Skip to main content

33 arrests in Belgium diamond heist

From Carol Jordan, CNN
updated 9:26 AM EDT, Wed May 8, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police arrest 33 suspects in connection with a diamond heist at Brussels Airport
  • People are detained in Belgium, Switzerland and France, Brussels prosecutor's office says
  • $50 million in rough and polished diamonds was stolen in the heist in February

(CNN) -- More than 30 arrests have been made in the diamond heist last February at Brussels Airport and some of the stolen diamonds have been recovered, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor's office said Wednesday.

How could diamond thieves sell them?

Police arrested 24 people Tuesday in Belgium, eight in Switzerland, and one in France, said Jean-Marc Meilleur, the office's spokesman. Police in Belgium raided about 40 houses in Brussels on Wednesday.

Authorities discovered some of the stolen diamonds in Switzerland, and money in Belgium, Switzerland and France, Meilleur said. Luxury cars were seized in Belgium, he said.

Read more: Security questions at Brussels airport after $50 million diamond heist

At this point, all those arrested are being questioned by the police locally, he said.

The slick theft of $50 million in rough and polished diamonds in a dramatic heist grabbed the headlines in February.

Authorities said then that eight masked, heavily armed men in clothing resembling police uniforms had burst through a hole in the perimeter fence onto the airport tarmac in two vehicles.

The men swiftly removed the diamonds from the hold of a Zurich-bound aircraft before speeding off the way they came.

Read more: Diamond heists are forever

While no one was hurt, the pilot, co-pilot and a transport security guard were all threatened at gunpoint, the Brussels prosecutor said.

Antwerp, the city known as the world's diamond-cutting capital, lies only about 25 miles away from Brussels.

Read more: Drag queens, fake beards and chocolates: Notable diamond heists

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:23 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
updated 4:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
updated 12:52 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
CNN's Will Ripley travels to North Korea, visiting an international wrestling festival and a slide-filled water park.
updated 5:20 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
updated 8:30 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
In a raid on a luxury apartment complex, agents caught up with a French-Algerian man they accuse of bringing back terror to Europe.
updated 8:02 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about trying to get a hostage home alive.
updated 10:02 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
The accidental killing of a gun instructor raises an "absurd question," writes Mel Robbins.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
updated 5:46 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT