Chinese authorities uncover ‘ideal’ illegal trading network

Chinese customs officials seized dozens of meteorites and pyrite when they arrived from South Africa, the Daily Mail reports. The meteorites were discovered in January when customs officials received an unusual shipment from South…

Chinese authorities uncover ‘ideal’ illegal trading network

Chinese customs officials seized dozens of meteorites and pyrite when they arrived from South Africa, the Daily Mail reports. The meteorites were discovered in January when customs officials received an unusual shipment from South Africa, which didn’t appear to contain minerals.

The smuggler, who was caught on video, said he had purposely packaged the meteorites and other minerals to pass them off as pyrite, which has proven effective in the past. According to Chinese regulations, any materials that contain metallic elements or any substances that could look like radioactive, metallic, or magnetic elements are prohibited entry into the country, so the meteorites are presumed to be pyrite.

After inspecting the shipment, however, officials realized the meteorites and pyrite were actually filled with fragments of paper and paper clips. That is because pyrite has a unique magnetic feature, which is what most other meteorites and mineral contains, and magnetic bits can easily mix with the paper, rubber, glass, and other materials.

Not all meteorites are made of pyrite, however, but the Chinese authorities had previously only confiscated meteorites and pyrite that were tumbled from heavy machines, so they likely didn’t check closely enough for pyrite. Officials told the Daily Mail that only four of the smuggling attempts were successful.

Read the full story at The Daily Mail.

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