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Smuggling Probed After Rubies Seized

Romanian police are investigating a suspected international gem smuggling operation after seizing 12,000 rubies in northeastern Romania.

Twenty-two pounds of rubies were seized when they were withdrawn from a bank, Col. Ioan Toarba of the Iasi county police told the official Rompres news agency Monday. Police said the gems were being used as collateral for bank loans.

There was no official word on the value of the rubies, but the newspaper Romania Libera quoted one expert as saying they could be worth up to $10 million.

Toarba said the rubies were sent to Romania by a German company last year and transferred to a bank in Iasi, 200 miles northeast of Bucharest.

Florea Gheorghe Cristian, the man arrested in December in possession of the rubies, has been released, but he is still under investigation for smuggling.


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