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Central Command: Suspected gold shipment recovered

U.S.: Bars could be worth $500 million

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. troops seized what is believed to be a massive gold shipment Friday during a routine traffic stop near the Iraqi border with Syria, U.S. Central Command announced.

Soldiers with the Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment found about 2,000 bars -- each weighing 40 pounds -- while searching a Mercedes truck driven by two men.

The bars have not yet been tested to determine their contents, Central Command said, adding that they could be worth as much as $500 million, depending on their purity and karat weight.

The men said they were paid $350 to pick the truck up in Baghdad and drive it to an unnamed person in the Iraqi town of Qaim near the Syrian border, along a known smuggling route. They said they were told the bars were bronze, the Central Command statement said.

The bars are now in custody of the 3rd Cavalry.

Coalition forces have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars believed to have been taken by members of Saddam Hussein's regime before the start of the war.

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