Brazil arrests nine after ‘Robbery of the Century’ in Paraguay

RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s Federal Police say they have arrested nine men suspected of stealing millions of dollars in an explosive assault of an armored car company in neighboring Paraguay.

Earlier on Monday about 50 men moved into the Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este, blew up the front of a private security firm, and fired on police.

Unconfirmed reports suggest they could have stolen up to $40m (£31m; €37m).

After the robbery, the gang created a diversion by burning cars and attacking the local police station, the ABC News reported.

Nine people were arrested Tuesday in the Brazilian state of Parana, all suspects in the explosive heist of an armored car company in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.

Regional federal police inspector Fabiano Bordignon said at a news conference that the nine are suspected of being among the estimated 50 men who used assault rifles and explosives to blast open the vault of the armored car company across the border in Ciudad del Este and then escaped into Brazil.

Bordignon said the amount stolen would be announced later in the day. Some local news media say about $40 million was stolen.

According to a Brazilian federal police statement, six rifles, multiple automatic weapon magazines, two boats, seven vehicles and an unspecified cash amount were seized in the operation to arrest the suspects.

The robbery happened early Monday in Paraguay, near the border with Brazil and Argentina, police said.

More than 50 people carrying large caliber weapons, dynamite and caltrops took part in what authorities are calling the “robbery of the century.”

The group made off with money from several vaults inside Prosegur, a private security firm in Ciudad del Este, police said.

Ciudad del Este is Paraguay’s second-largest city and is along the border with Brazil and Argentina.

Authorities believe the robbers were members of Primer Comando de la Capital, one of the largest criminal organizations in Brazil.

A police officer was killed during Monday’s shootout that started about midnight (local time) and lasted for about two hours. Another officer and three bystanders were injured and taken to local hospitals, police said.

Three suspects were killed and four arrested during the confrontation, said a spokesperson with Paraguay’s Interior Ministry in a news release.