The next inevitable Bond movie? It begins with a speeding hearse, wending its way through the frigid and barren roads outside the city of Khabarovsk in Russia, a few miles from the Chinese border. We pan in closer and see that the hearse is labeled "Funeral" in Cyrillic script and a photograph of a woman—evidently the unfortunately recipient of the ride—is posted on the dashboard.
Sirens blare. Its piercing whine becomes louder.
We cut to a wide shot of the police, frantically opening the back of the hearse and then the casket itself. And there it is: half a ton of caviar, in plastic containers, jammed into the casket and all around it. Under decorative wreaths. Everywhere.
No, this is not a movie. This shit actually went down this week in Russia.
Russia's Interior Ministry said in a statement that the Russian police uncovered 1,100 pounds of caviar in the back of a hearse that was pulled over for speeding.
The driver said he had been paid to transport a body to a funeral in nearby Khabarovsk. The seized caviar is reported to be worth upwards of 10 million roubles, or $156,000—but that seems like a pretty damn severe underestimation, given current caviar prices. In any event, it's a lot of caviar and worth many a rouble.
Evidently, a second car was used as a decoy in an attempt to distract police. "But we decided to ignore it and stop the vehicle that was following it instead," said Inspector Artem Shpilev. The driver and a funeral parlor employee who accompanied him in the hearse were arrested. They claimed they had no idea what was in the hearse, telling police that they had been hired by a man in a village outside Khabarovsk who asked them to transport the body of a female relative to the city morgue.
Sturgeon—from whence caviar comes—is rapidly disappearing from the Caspian Sea due to illegal fishing. As such, Russia has tried to strictly regulate the caviar industry, which now consists of about 50 farms. According to The Guardian, "Wild caviar production and sturgeon fishing is almost entirely banned, except for indigenous peoples of Russia's north, who have to obtain permits."
Despite the ban, however, a study found that in 2010, only 19 out of 244 tons of caviar produced in Russia were made legally.
This is not the first intersection of fish eggs and death in Russia of late. In 2011, 385 pounds of caviar were found stored alongside dead bodies in a St. Petersburg morgue.
We'll have to wait for the Bond movie to come out. In the meantime, this all makes a mighty fine Halloween horror story to share with friends and family—with a shot of vodka, of course. Za vashe zdorovie!