Tancos arms theft – Algarve gang members arrested
A police operation early on Monday morning saw a swathe of arrests in the Algarve and Centre of the country of those suspected of being involved in the Tancos arms and ammunition theft in June 2017.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office confirmed today that eight civilians had been picked up in Operation Húbris II, to be added to two suspects already in detention.
The arrests, “in the central and southern parts of the country,” are related to the crimes of criminal association, theft, arms trafficking, international terrorism and drug trafficking.
None of the detainees is military but one already in custody is a former marine. Another of the detainees is accused of being involved in the unrelated theft of Glock pistols from the Public Security Police.
Operation Húbris has involved searches and arrests within the Military Judicial Police – including its then director, Colonel Luís Vieira. GNR personnel also have been arrested in a case that continues to intrigue the public.
Of today’s detainees, five are said to be directly involved in the Tancos robbery with the others known to have links to a criminal gang which carried out the actual operation.
The investigators now have no doubt that the robbery was well planned and that the military materials were stolen to be sold on to organised crime.
The investigation got a break in mid-November when a suspect, a lock specialist, admitted to supplying information to gang members on how to get into the Army arms depot.
As the inquiry into the theft and subsequent return of military materials continues, boosted by this morning’s arrests, the spotlight inevitably now will swing to the political arena to unravel what is being hidden by whom and why.
A Parliamentary Inquiry Commission so far has named 63 people it wishes to interview, including defendants, investigators, operational commanders and military chiefs, secret service officials and Prime Minister, António Costa who recently stated that the thefts had nothing to do with terrorism or organised crime.