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Multi-million Gold Heist From Curacao Boat

He referred questions about the source of the gold to the captain, who was meeting with authorities on the Dutch Caribbean island and not immediately available.

Emmanuel said the gold was locked away when the thieves boarded the vessel. "They took everything," he said.

The crew member said neither he nor anyone else on the vessel was armed. "This is normal," he said. "We never carry arms. Since I started working here, I've transported gold once before, and this is the system."

Colin Sparman, executive secretary of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association, said legal shipments are typically made by air under heavy security. But gold smuggling is common to avoid taxes and royalty payments on the precious metal.

Curacao, just north of Venezuela, is primarily known as tourist destination, particularly for divers. It is also an offshore financial center, especially for people from South America.

_____

Associated Press writers Orlando Cuales in Willemstad and Bert Wilkinson in Georgetown, Guyana contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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