DOMODEDOVO CUSTOMS INTERCEPTS 35,500 CUT DIAMONDS*

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MOSCOW, December 7 (RIA Novosti) - Domodedovo airport customs officers have arrested a record cut-diamond batch of 35,500 pieces, says the federal customs service of Russia.

"The cost of merely one third of the detained goods tops $1 million. It was a Russian tourist returning from the United Arab Emirates who tried to smuggle these diamonds. Her specially-made belt proved to contain over 35,500 cut diamonds (some weighing up to 8 carats) as well as over a hundred parcels with petty diamonds which beggar count," says the federal service.

Besides, this 33-year-old native of Buryatia (a republic in Southern Siberia) harboured six pieces of jewellery with diamonds: a necklace, three pairs of earings, a watch and a ring. Domodedovo customs officers spent over 12 hours counting only part of the smuggled diamonds.

The tourist from Buryatia was stopped by customs officers because "she was ostensibly calm when passing the green corridor." Besides, the X-rayed bag showed a suspicious watch. The continued search revealed two pairs of white gold earings with diamonds. The tourist put some of the jewellery on her body as ornaments. She said she had bought herself in the Emirates a present which cost $115,000. "This information considered, it was decided to search this tourist. It was then that the greater part of the contraband was discovered."

It is the largest precious stone batch detained by Russian customs officers over the recent years.

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