Two Colombian nationals were detained Monday and five others are wanted for questioning in a probe of a series of robberies at luxury apartment complexes in three different Brazilian cities, authorities said.
All seven Colombians are suspected members of a gang behind heists in affluent neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte, police inspector Alexandre Magalhaes told a press conference.
The gang apparently used some of the proceeds from the robberies to go into loan sharking, the investigator said.
The robbery victims include professional athletes, judges and business executives.
Over the last 12 months, police catalogued 11 separate robberies in Rio displaying the same modus operandi, Magalhaes said.
“After we identified the robberies, we discovered the usury activity. Among the victims of this practice there are many foreigners, mainly Colombians,” the inspector said.
Police found the two men arrested Monday, Eyber Muriel Cardona and Alessander Muñoz Botero, after reviewing footage from security cameras at the targeted apartment buildings.
Searches of the suspects’ Rio de Janeiro residences turned up lists of people who borrowed money from the gang.