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Jeweler Found Guilty of Trying to Smuggle Gems

February 27, 1986

A jeweler was convicted in Los Angeles federal court Wednesday of trying to smuggle about $300,000 in gems through customs by hiding them in his luggage.

El Meng Tsai, 41, was arrested Oct. 30 at Los Angeles International Airport after a flight from the Orient when customs agents found nearly 1,000 diamonds and other gemstones in his luggage.

Tsai, who lives on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, owns jewelry firms in Rolling Hills Estates and Los Angeles. He could receive five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of three counts when sentenced March 31 by U.S. District Judge Harry Hupp.

Tsai had testified that he was not trying to avoid paying duties, but hid the gems for fear of robbery.

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