Attempted heist leads to death in Latam airlines aircraft

Attempted heist leads to death in Latam airlines aircraft

An attempted heist of more than $32 million in cash from a Latam airlines aircraft arriving from Miami resulted in an airport shootout in Chile’s capital, which killed a security officer and an alleged robber.

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Around 10 heavily armed robbers were able to bypass security measures to reach the runway at the Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport, where the cash was being transferred to an armored truck.

The incident happened on Wednesday, and the Interior Subsecretary Manuel Monsalve stated that the robbers were “highly organized” and “very armed.”

During the shootout between the robbers and security officials, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGAC) employee, Claudio Villar Rodriguez, and an alleged assailant were killed.

Two burned vehicles were later found nearby, and the other robbers fled the scene. Videos posted on social media appeared to show bullet holes in a Delta plane parked next to the targeted Latam aircraft.

There was no risk to passengers, according to DGAC chief Raúl Jorquera. The attempted heist targeted the $32.5 million that was set to be transferred to an armored truck to be distributed to several banks in the South American country. Jorquera stated that the attempted robbery “will undoubtedly lead us to revise processes, protocols that must be improved…it forces us to rethink many things.”

This was not the first time the airport in Chile’s capital was targeted. In 2020, thieves stole around $15 million from a warehouse in the airport. In that heist, the suspects used two vehicles, one painted in the colors and with the logo of courier company DHL. In 2014, another group made off with more than $10 million at the airport.

During a speech on Wednesday, President Gabriel Boric bemoaned the latest heist and vowed that the criminals would be brought to justice. The increase in violent crime has contributed to a recent decline in Boric’s approval ratings, according to polls. The AFP contributed to this report.

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