Fortaleza bank heist 2005: what is the true story behind Netflix’s The Great Robbery of Brazil’s Central Bank?
The Great Robbery of Brazil’s Central Bank is available to watch now on Netflix
and live on Freeview channel 276
In 2005, thieves tunnelled into a Fortaleza, Brazil, bank vault and stole a fortune - most of the thieves and the money remains at large.
It is estimated that 25 criminals were involved in the heist, although only eight were arrested.
What was the Fortaleza bank robbery?
On Saturday 6 August 2005, a group of burglars tunnelled into the vault of Fortalenza’s central bank on the north-east coast of Brazil.
The group has set up a phoney landscaping business as a cover and spent three months digging a 256-foot tunnel on the pretence of it being part of the business.
The tunnel led under the bank and straight up through the floor of its main vault, where hundreds of millions of reais were stored.
Having broken into the vault, the criminal crew stole five cases full of 50 real notes, weighing roughly 3.5 tons in total.
The bank had not insured the money, citing the minor risk to the cash in such a secure building making the insurance premiums difficult to justify.
The gang got away with just over 160 million reais, worth roughly £27 million today.
Incredibly, the bank robbery, one of the greatest in history, was not discovered until the bank opened for business the following Monday, two days later.
What happened to the bank robbers?
In the months and years following the robbery, Brazilian federal police were engaged in a cat and mouse game with the robbers.
Four days after the robbery, two men who were driving a car-carrying truck were arrested and 2.1 million reais was recovered.
In September 2005 a further five men were arrested and 5.2 million reais recovered.
The following month a man who had links to a former security guard who had been involved in the heist was arrested and less than 100,000 reais was seized.
While it is believed that up to 18 of those involved in the heist remain at large, some of the criminals met a bloody end.
In October 2005, the body of Luis Fernando, the alleged mastermind behind the heist was found abandoned on a quiet road in the village of Camanducaia, around 200 miles west of Rio de Janerio.
The 26-year-old had been kidnapped and even though his family paid his hefty ransom, he was shot to death by his kidnappers.
Police discovered a further six kidnappings they believe were related to the robbery - in each case the ransom was paid by the families.
There was evidence to suggest that members of the police force had been involved in the kidnappings, and three officers were arrested.
The body of another suspect in the heist, Evandro José das Neves, was discovered in a São Paulo favela in October 2006.
Was the money ever recovered?
Small amounts of cash from the robbery were recovered over the years, in one instance 170,000 reais was found buried in a house 500km from the Fortaleza.
Overall, it is estimated that 20 million reais has been recovered to date, leaving 140 million reais (£20.9 million) unaccounted for.
Where can I watch The Great Robbery of Brazil’s Central Bank?
All episodes of the miniseries are available to watch now on Netflix.
The programme is in Portuguese with English subtitles and dubbing available.
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