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South African police say a Lebanese man swallowed 220 polished diamonds, worth $2.3 million, before trying to board a plane from Johannesburg to Dubai.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Police have arrested a man who allegedly swallowed 220 polished diamonds and tried to smuggle them out of the country.
The 25-year-old unnamed man, said to be of Lebanese origin, was caught with the gems worth $2.3 million while trying to board a plane from Johannesburg to Dubai.
South Africa's elite police unit, the Hawks, stopped the man at OR Tambo International Airport after responding to a tip, the South African Press Association reported.
“We nabbed him just before he went through the security checkpoint,” Hawks spokesman Paul Ramaloko told Agence France-Presse.
Ramaloko told the Daily Mail that officers gave the man laxatives to expel the diamonds from his system.
In March, a 27-year-old Lebanese man was similarly arrested at OR Tambo airport with $1.7 million in diamonds, SAPA reported.
Police are investigating whether the two are part of a diamond-smuggling syndicate.
While South Africa was previously one of the world's biggest producers of diamonds, many are now mined in neighboring Zimbabwe and Botswana.
A report released Monday by the Canadian watchdog group Partnership Africa Canada accused Zimbabwe’s government of pilfering $2 billion in diamonds from the country's lucrative Marange fields and using the money to enrich corrupt government officials.
More from GlobalPost: The case of Zimbabwe’s stolen diamonds