Turkish cops have seized 102 grammes of highly radioactive Californium from a man trying to sell it on for GBP 380,000.
The incident took place in the town of Turgutreis, in the district of Akdeniz, in the southern Turkish province of Mersin.
During the arrest, the police seized 102 grammes (3.6 oz) of Californium, a radioactive chemical element with the symbol Cf and atomic number 98.
The local police said in a statement on 7th March: “Mersin Provincial Gendarmerie Command teams carried out an operation against a person who smuggled chemicals and mobile phones.
“Police teams were informed that they were looking for a customer to sell the chemical element Californium (used in moisture meters in oil wells, and to find gold and silver ore) in the hands of a foreign national in Turgutreis in Akdeniz District for USD 500,000 [GBP 380,000].
“AFAD [Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency] carried out an operation to catch the suspect and seize the chemical substance with the support of CBRN [Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear] experts.
“As a result of the operation, the suspect was caught and detained. During the search of the suspect’s house, 102 grammes of the chemical element Californium were seized and taken to TAEK (Turkish Atomic Energy Agency).
“Again, in the house belonging to the same suspect, 46 mobile phones with a market value of approximately TRY 230,000 (GBP 11,800), which were smuggled through customs, were seized and confiscated. The captured suspect was taken to the Mersin Provincial Gendarmerie Command to be processed.”
The investigation continues.
Californium, a radioactive metal, is a strong neutron emitter and is used in metal detectors, for finding gold and silver ores, to detect water and oil layers in oil wells, as well as metal fatigue and stress in airplanes.