Eight masked gunmen made a hole in a security fence at Brussels' international airport, drove onto the tarmac and snatched $50 million worth of diamonds from a Swiss-bound plane on Feb. 18, 2013.

Airport Diamond Heist Suspects Arrested in Multicountry Sweep

'Brussels criminal milieu' rounded up three months after daring $50M theft.

Eight masked gunmen made a hole in a security fence at Brussels' international airport, drove onto the tarmac and snatched $50 million worth of diamonds from a Swiss-bound plane on Feb. 18, 2013.
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Police in Belgium, France and Switzerland detained more than 30 people suspected of involvement in the daring February 18 diamond heist at a Belgian airport, authorities announced Wednesday. Diamonds were recovered in Switzerland and cash was found in Belgium.

During the heist, eight men cut through the security fence of a Brussels-area airport and drove two vehicles – a stolen taxi later found torched and an Audi with French tags – to a parked Zurich-bound plane. In a matter of minutes, the men boarded the plane and removed an estimated $50 million worth of diamonds.

Belgian prosecutors announced Wednesday morning that Swiss police arrested several men in a Tuesday sweep, French police arrested one man on Tuesday believed to have been on the eight-man crew, and Belgian police rounded up 24 men in a Wednesday morning operation.

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"At least 10 of the men arrested in Belgium were known to the justice authorities, mainly for armed attacks. They were part of the Brussels criminal milieu," said Brussels police spokesman Jean-Marc Meilleur, The Guardian reports.

Belgian police said the men arrested there in the large 40-house operation were in their 30s and 40s, AFP reports. "[L]arge amounts of money" were recovered by police, Meilleur said, according to The Associated Press.

It's unclear how many men were arrested in Switzerland. Belgian authorities said six, but the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation says eight, citing a statement from the Geneva prosecutor's office. Reuters reports that eight men were detained by Swiss police, but six were released without being charged.

According to the SBC, suspects include a businessman and a Geneva lawyer charged with receiving stolen goods and obstruction of justice. Approximately $106,000 was seized by Swiss police, along with a "large number of diamonds" that are currently being appraised, the SBC reports.

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