Police who arrested a suspected smuggler in South Africa discovered he’d swallowed 220 diamonds worth £1.4m before attempting to board a plane.
The unnamed Lebanese man, 25, was stopped as he got on a flight from Johannesburg to Dubai.
Officers at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport then gave him laxatives to flush the valuable stones out of his system.
Police confirmed they detained the suspect at a boarding gate following a tip off.
Spokesman Paul Ramaloko said: ‘The man was ready to board the flight and had the diamonds on his person.
‘Our officers were tipped off about his activities and detained him at the airport.
‘He was then taken for examination and we found around 220 pieces of diamond inside him, with a value of around 20million rand.’
Captain Ramaloko said it was not clear whether the suspect had swallowed the stones before he arrived at the airport or in panic after he spotted police at the boarding gate.
He added: ‘At this stage it would be unwise for us to speculate about what exactly he had done.
‘We do not know whether he had swallowed the diamonds before he came to the airport or during arrest.’
The suspect was detained by South Africa’s elite ‘Hawks’ investigations unit and is due to appear before a magistrate on Thursday.
Captain Ramaloko said yesterday’s arrest followed that of another Lebanese man, 27, at the airport in March.
Detectives were today investigating whether the pair had been operating as part of a smuggling syndicate.
South Africa is one of the world’s most prolific producers of diamonds, which are also mined commercially in neighbouring Botswana and Zimbabwe.
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