Brazilian Police Arrest ‘Gunpoint Crypto Thieves’
Brazilian police officers and Interpol have swooped on a gang of suspected gun-toting crypto thieves, arresting seven people.
Per an official release from the Santa Catarina civil police force, officers were issued with eight arrest warrants and four “search and seize” permits last week.
They followed up with a series of raids in Brazilian and Argentinian cities.
The officers teamed up with Interpol, the Brazilian Ministry of Justice, and Federal Police Department, and Argentina’s Federal Police Force for a major operation codenamed Blockchain.
Two suspects were detained on Wednesday, October 4, in Buenos Aires.
Another suspect was held in the Brazilian state of Sergipe the following day.
Another two suspected thieves were already in custody, having been charged with bank robbery-related offenses.
One of the suspected thieves was able to evade law enforcement officers and appears to be on the run.
Santa Catarina police vehicles at a crime scene. (Source: Polícia Civil de Santa Catarina/Facebook)
Brazilian Police ‘Bust Crypto Theft Ring’
Officers suspect the detainees, all apparently Brazilian nationals, of “robbery” and “extortion”-related offenses.
Police think the group stole over $230,000 worth of unnamed cryptoassets by breaking into premises operated by a business in Praia Brava, Itajaí, armed with guns.
The business owner was reportedly held at gunpoint, along with his family and employees, for three hours.
The group allegedly beat their captives and threatened them with violence if the business owner did not send his crypto to a wallet operated by the suspected thieves.
The incident reportedly took place in January this year.
The group also reportedly stole jewelry, electronic devices, and cash.
But officers claim to have traced the coins to addresses based in Argentina and Peru.
The suspected robbers appear to have attempted to throw investigators off the scent by “spreading” the funds “across several crypto wallets.”
Police spokespeople said they had frozen crypto exchange wallets and seized coins.
An image circulated by the Polícia Civil de Santa Catarina showing the law enforcement agencies and government organs involved in Operation Blockchain. (Source: Polícia Civil de Santa Catarina)
Brazilian Police Targeting Crypto Offenders
The seven individuals remain in custody and are likely to be formally indicted by the prosecution before the end of the month.
Last month, the state of Santa Catarina announced it was barring public officials, including police and military officers, from mining crypto using public networks.
In August, officers in São Paulo, Mato Grosso, and Mato Grosso do Sul froze crypto wallets and seized coins as part of a major bust on a suspected ring of crypto-powered electronics smugglers and tax evaders.