08 March 2023

Two killed during attempted multimillion-dollar heist at airport in Chile

08 March 2023

A security officer and a robber have been killed during an attempt to steal more than 32 million dollars (£27m) in cash from a plane at an airport in Chile’s capital Santiago.

Around 10 heavily armed robbers were able to beat security measures to reach the runway at the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport, where a Latam airlines aircraft from Miami had 32.5 million dollars in cash that was being transferred to an armoured truck, interior subsecretary Manuel Monsalve said.

There was a shootout between the would-be robbers and security officials that resulted in the deaths of an employee of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, or DGAC, as well as an alleged assailant.

The other robbers fled. Two burned vehicles were later found nearby.

When there’s insecurity, everything else wobbles

“The brave action by the DGAC officials frustrated the robbery,” Mr Monsalve said, noting that the would-be robbers were “highly organised” and “very armed”.

Video posted on social media appeared to show bullet holes in a Delta plane that was parked next to the Latam aircraft that was targeted. Another video appears to show a moment in the shootout during which a lot of gunshots can be heard.

“There was no risk to passengers,” DGAC chief Raul Jorquera said.

The attempted heist targeted the 32.5 million that was set to be transferred to an armoured truck to then be distributed to several banks in the South American country.

The attempted robbery “will undoubtedly lead us to revise processes, protocols that must be improved… it forces us to rethink many things,” Mr Jorquera said.

This was not the first time the airport in Chile’s capital was targeted. In 2020, thieves stole some 15 million dollars from a warehouse in the airport, six years after a similar 10 million dollar heist.

President Gabriel Boric bemoaned the latest heist during a speech on Wednesday in which he said that “when there’s insecurity, everything else wobbles”.

An increase in violent crime has contributed to a recent decline in Mr Boric’s approval ratings, according to polls.

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