A gang of at least thirty men blew up the front of the Prosegur private security firm in Ciudad del Este, in Paraguay’s tri-border area, and made off with US$40million.
And that was just the start:
Huge robbery sparks gun battles in Paraguay and Brazil
After the robbery, the gang created a diversion by burning cars and attacking the local police station.
They escaped after a two-hour shootout that left one police officer dead at the scene after the company’s vaults were blown up.
Police believe they fled in several of the security company’s armoured trucks and then may have transferred their booty to waiting boats at the Parana river.
They were believed to have travelled 50km (30 miles) downriver to a region called Itaipulandia in Brazil, were they were intercepted by Brazilian police.
Brazilian federal police came across 12 men who exchanged fire and then escaped, Brazilian Globo website reported.
The BBC said there were fifty men, AlJazeera said up to 80 people may have been involved in the attack, and the Telegraph claims there were thirty,
Vladimir Jara, spokesman for Paraguay’s interior ministry, said they too believe the robbery was carried out by a Brazilian criminal organisation.
. . .
The city’s [Ciudad del Este] location means that cocaine from Bolivia flows down the river, before being distributed into the large Brazilian and Argentine metropolises.
Nunca imaginei ver isso em minha pequena e “pacata” cidade..perseguição de bandidos causa mortes, apreensão de explosivos, carros, bandidos pic.twitter.com/g2YYZ3LbRX
— Édina (@tietedina) April 24, 2017
At least 12 people managed to escape police at a third confrontation in Itaipulandia, also on the Brazilian side of the border.
Paraguayan police chief Luis Rojas said it was possible the attackers had help inside the police.
The above news video (in Spanish) attributes the robbery to Sao Paulo’s Primer Comando, Brazil’s largest organized crime organization, Primeiro Comando da Capital, or PCC, which was recently recruiting Colombian FARC members.
The PCC reportedly has consolidated control over the area’s drug traffic monopoly.
CNN also reports
Authorities believe the robbers were members of Primer Comando de la Capital, one of the largest criminal organizations in Brazil.
O Globo (link in Portuguese) confirms that eight suspects are under arrest. The O Globo article states there are fifty suspects, and that the eleven hostages had been released. Brazil’s Federal Police seized six rifles, ammunition, two boats and seven vehicles used in the assault.
This is the largest robbery in Paraguay’s history.