Brazilian Police Detain Suspects in Theft of 700 Kilos of Gold from Sao Paulo Airport

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  • One of those arrested was identified as a logistics supervisor at the airport and who first told authorities that he and his family were held hostage.
  • The police estimate that in all the operations necessary to execute the robbery at least ten people participated.
  • The theft occurred in broad daylight in the export warehouse of the airport's cargo terminal, the busiest and main gateway to Brazil.

The Brazilian Police have arrested three people suspected of having participated in the theft of 718.9 kilos of gold committed in the cargo terminal of Guarulhos international airport, the largest in the country, according to official sources. These are three workers from the airport itself, located in Sao Paulo metropolitan region, according to news sources confirmed the case.

São Paulo/Guarulhos–Governador André Franco Montoro International Airport (GRU), is the primary international airport serving São Paulo. It is popularly known locally as either Cumbica Airport, after the district where it is located and the Brazilian Air Force base that still exists at the airport complex, or Guarulhos Airport, after the municipality of Guarulhos, in the São Paulo metropolitan area, where it is located.

This cargo theft, valued at over $30 million, was committed Thursday by a group of heavily armed bandits disguised as agents of the Brazil Federal Police. One of those arrested was identified as Peterson Patricio, 33, logistics supervisor at the airport and who first told authorities that he and his family were held hostage.

Patricio initially presented himself as a victim by ensuring that he was kidnapped with his family a day before the robbery and that the assailants forced him to pass inside information to facilitate access to the interior of the terminal. However, once in prison, he confessed his participation in the action and said that his family knew nothing about it.

In the airport security cameras images, it was possible to see how Patricio indicated to the members of the band the exact place where the gold was and it is even seen how he takes some pieces that were loose in a container. However, investigators initially believed he was coerced and under threat. The police said they were keeping open the possibility that someone from inside the airport had participated in gold theft, whose weight was first estimated at 750 kilos and then reduced to 718.9.

Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and atomic number 79, making it one of the higher atomic number elements that occur naturally. In its purest form, it is a bright, slightly reddish yellow, dense, soft, malleable, and ductile metal.

The second suspect arrested, also named Peterson, is apparently an assistant to the first at Guarulhos airport, which is one of the most important in Latin America. No further information on the third detainee is known. The police estimate that in all the operations necessary to execute the robbery (considered one of the biggest in Brazilian history) at least ten people participated.

Eight armed men disguised as agents who arrived in two fake police vans stole the gold without firing a shot. The thieves took two security guards hostage and the family of one of them to force their help, according to police reports.

The cargo was heavy and the thieves decided to use airport employees and some trucks to get it into one of the vans before they fled. Hours later, the hostages were released and the vehicles were located in the eastern part of the metropolis. The gold was en route to Zurich (Switzerland) and New York (United States) at the time of the theft.

The theft occurred in broad daylight in the export warehouse of the airport’s cargo terminal, the busiest and main gateway to Brazil. For more than a century the terminal has been the largest gold exporter in the world. The thieves only needed two and a half minutes, according to the images recorded by the security cameras.

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George Mtimba

George clarifies how the news is changing the world, how world news trends affect you. Also, George is a professional journalist, a freelance news reporter and writer who is passionate with current world news.
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