SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean customs officials say they have arrested eight men over a scheme to allegedly smuggle gold out of the country by hiding it in their rectums.

The Korea Customs Service said Monday the men allegedly transformed $260,000 in gold bars into small beads and smuggled them in their rectums to Japan two times in 2010 to avoid import taxes.

South Korea says Japanese custom officials caught the men on their second attempt and sent them home after imposing fines. Later, one of the suspects allegedly orchestrated an unsuccessful bid to smuggle gold bars from Mongolia to Hong Kong using a similar method.

Meanwhile, South Korean officials gathered evidence against them at home. They say the suspects recently admitted to the smuggling after initial denials.