33 Detained in Spectacular $50M Diamond Heist

The van believed to have been in the Belgian airport diamond heist was found burned. Photo credit: NBC News

Authorities in Belgium and Switzerland said Wednesday that they have detained 33 people in three countries suspected of being involved in a spectacular $50 million diamond heist at Brussels airport in February, the Associated Press reports.

A French citizen believed to be one of the actual robbers was detained in his home country. Belgian authorities have requested his extradition. Eight others in Geneva were also detained on Tuesday, according to the report. This was followed Wednesday morning by 40 raids by Belgian police that netted the remaining 24 suspects. A Brussels police spokesman is quoted as saying they are certain they recovered some of the stolen diamonds in Switzerland.

Swiss authorities have issued a statement saying that they recovered diamonds that are believed to have stolen in the heist.

The February 18 robbery was so spectacular and efficient that it was compared in the press to Hollywood movie heists such as Ocean’s Eleven and James Bond films. On February 18, the robbers posing as police drove in a van through a hole in the fence (they created) of Brussels airport to the plane carrying the diamonds, pulled out machine guns, took the rough and cut diamonds, and drove away in less than five minutes. The only known clue was the charred remains of a van believed to be in the heist.

Police reportedly said that there will be announcement later Wednesday on how many will actually be charged and their identifications.

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