In 1978 nearly $6 million was robbed from Lufthansa at New York JFK — in what was then the largest cash robbery ever in the United States.
The movies, The 10 Million Dollar Getaway and The Big Heist were made about the job and it featured prominently in Goodfellas. The latter film is the story of Henry Hill, who is the one that learned about American money flown in monthly from West Germany.
The heist was investigated for over 35 years, even leading to an arrest in 2014 of a purported high-ranking member of the Bonanno crime family, however the then-78 year old man was acquitted. Much of the proceeds of the Lufthansa robbery were said to have been gambled away in casinos.
Now a Brazilian gang has stolen about $5 million from a Lufthansa cargo flight while it was being loaded at São Paulo/Campinas airport last Sunday. The German carrier makes a daily MD11 flight from São Paulo to Dakar and on to Frankfurt.
Five gang members wielding rifles infiltrated an international airport in Brazil on Sunday and carried out a carefully choreographed heist worthy of the big screen.
Police said the gang, using cars that were painted to resemble airport security vehicles, tore past two gates and drove into the cargo section of Viracopos Airport, 60 miles outside Sao Paulo. They attacked two security guards and stuffed them into a van, then invaded the tarmac and drove up to a parked Lufthansa plane just as employees were transferring bags of cash into an armored vehicle.
Lufthansa Cargo MD-11 Freighter in Frankfurt, Copyright: philipus / 123RF Stock Photo
According to leader of the airport worker’s union, “Everyone who passes through the Viracopos Airport is at the mercy of thugs” suggesting that ‘muggings, carjackings and kidnappings of employees in the vicinity of the airport’ is commonplace and that the highway to the airport is known for kidnapping attempts.
A record 10,500 cargo thefts were registered in 2017 in Sao Paulo, according to Sao Paulo state figures. In February, police busted a cargo-looting ring that was stashing stolen trucks and merchandise at a rest stop right outside Sao Paulo. In Rio de Janeiro, some areas are so dangerous for truckers that the post office has halted deliveries in nearly half the city.
To show just how complicated life is sometimes, Brazil has some of the world’s toughest gun control laws.
(HT: Live and Let’s Fly)