Chile makes arrests after bomb threats grounded nine planes

SANTIAGO – Chilean police have arrested two men over bomb threats that led to the disruption of several flights in Chile, Peru and Argentina on Thursday.

According to the daily La Tercera, planes allegedly planted with bombs had to be diverted after taking off from Santiago’s airport. The threats turned out to be fake.

Local Biobio radio reported the DGAC confirmed that the flights were forced to make emergency landings “without informing the passengers of the real motives to avoid causing alarm.”

Flights to Lima, Peru and Buenos Aires, Argentina were among those diverted. Authorities checked the planes and found nothing.

A specialist organized crime unit arrested one, 29-year-old Chilean man in the northern city of Antofagasta overnight after using cellphone triangulation to locate him, police said.

The man was arrested early Friday morning at his home, and his cellphone and other items were seized as evidence, Santiago’s police chief, Jose Rivera Aedo, told a news conference.

The man, who has not been named, was due to appear before a court in Santiago on Friday afternoon on charges of making threats of explosives contrary to national security legislation.

A second, 33-year-old man, also Chilean and identified as Boris Chacon Flores, was detained at Santiago airport on Thursday afternoon after allegedly “joking” about a bomb in his bag to a friend as he went through security, a spokeswoman for the Santiago West prosecutor said. The man appeared in court on one charge of making a false bomb threat.

There was no apparent link between the two arrested men, the spokeswoman, María Angelica Venegas told Reuters. Police chief Rivera declined to say whether authorities were looking for more suspects.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera wrote on Twitter that his government would push for punitive charges against the suspect who allegedly made the calls “to make an example of him.”

Hundreds of passengers and their luggage were grounded at airports around the region after threats were made toward planes operated by LATAM airlines, a major regional carrier, and Sky, a low-cost Chilean airline.

LATAM Airlines connects Cusco with Santiago de Chile