• Spanish businessman steals, sells 2M face masks to Portugal
  • Suspect, director of well-known real estate company
  • Suspect empties warehouse
  • 100 out of 2M masks left
  • Empty boxes of surgical gloves found
  • Suspect arrested, released on bail, investigation ongoing

A Spanish businessman stole two million face masks and other medical protective equipment and sold them to Portugal before he was caught.

According to a Metro UK report, the unnamed businessman who was a director of a well-established local real-estate firm, took the masks and other protective supplies such as surgical gloves from a locked warehouse in Santiago de Compostela on February.

The report added that this warehouse stored the equipment of a medical supplies company that had gone into liquidation.

According to the New York Post, the suspect deliberately chose those items that had the highest resale values and sold them to contacts in Portugal.

Alfonso Rueda, vice president of the Xunta de Galicia regional government, visited the warehouse on Monday and found that only 100 of the two million masks stored remained untouched.

“The police received a tip-off that there could have been valuable health equipment here which would have been so necessary in the fight against COVID-19,” he said, according to Metro. “It had been cleaned out by the time they arrived. We calculate 2 million face masks have been stolen; only the boxes are left.”

Rueda added that empty boxes of surgical gloves were found but they don't know how many of the items were missing.

Portugal authorities helped the local investigators with the case and the man was soon identifed and arrested by authorities and has made an initial court appearance.

The Metro reported that according to court sources, the businessman was released on bail during a closed court hearing and the judicial investigation is still ongoing.

According to the Johns Hopkins University statistics, Spain has the second-highest number of reported coronavirus cases with a total of 146,690, next to the US; on the other hand, it is the country currently second to Italy with the highest COVID-19 death toll of 14,555 people.

Reportedly, the Spanish government was forced to buy face masks from China in an "emergency purchase" as the number of coronavirus cases grew in the country.

Face Mask
Face mask for protection against the coronavirus. Mika Baumeister - Unsplash