Paging John le Carré. Twenty-four people in Belgium, six people in Switzerland and one person in France were arrested on Wednesday in connection with a diamond heist at the Brussels Airport in February, when a team of eight masked and armed thieves, who prosecutors described as “professionals,” disguised themselves as policemen, broke into the tarmac area and cleaned out a plane load of diamonds in mere minutes without firing a shot.
The value of the stolen diamonds is estimated somewhere between $50 million and $67 million. Some of the stolen goods and a “large amount” of the money was recovered in Belgium, a spokeswoman for the Belgian prosecutor’s office told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday morning.
The first suspect was arrested three months ago in France, the AP reported. Jean-Marc Meilleur, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor's office, said the man was suspected of being one of the thieves, "and his extradition to Belgium has been requested."
The AFP reported the heist was “one of the biggest” ever pulled.
"In Switzerland, we have found diamonds that we can already say are coming from the heist, and in Belgium large amounts of money have been found," Meilleur told reporters. "And the investigation is still ongoing."
The Brussels Airport near Antwerp, Belgium's second-largest city, is Belgium’s biggest trading site for rough diamonds, Bloomberg reported.
Maya covers the U.N., Europe, and the Middle East for IBTimes. She joined the company in July 2012 after having previously worked with DNAinfo.com and Gawker.