Police Make Another Arrest in $70M Brazilian Bank Heist

SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) - A former security guard on Friday confessed his involvement in one of the world's biggest bank robberies in which US$70 million (euro57.64 million) was stolen in August from a regional branch of Brazil's central bank, the federal police said.

Deusimar Neves Queiroz was arrested on Friday after his sister-in-law tipped off law enforcement officials, federal police spokeswoman Sabrina Albuquerque said by telephone, adding that it was unclear why she turned him in.

Queiroz told police that he did not take an active part in the heist, but that he did provide the thieves with information on the vault from where the money was stolen in the city of Fortaleza, 2,400 kilometers(1,488 miles) northeast of Sao Paulo.

"A few years ago he worked for a security firm that provided services to the Central Bank," Albuquerque said without offering further details on the kind of information Queiroz passed on to the thieves.

No money from the heist was found in Queiroz's possession or in his house, the spokeswoman said.

After digging for three months, the thieves crawled through a tunnel that stretched 80 meters (262 feet) from a house they rented near the bank to reach the vault where they broke into containers filled with used 50-real notes - equivalent to about US$22 (euro18).

Queiroz's sister in law Francisca Rodrigues Cunha told police he received almost US$890,000 (euro730,766) but he claimed he received only US$89,000 (euro89,000) as payment for the information.

Queiroz said part of the money went to buy a used car, a motorcycle and a small home for another sister-in-law. The other part was meant as startup capital for a loan-sharking business.

Late last month, three men confessed they took part in the heist.

The three, who were among five men arrested Sept. 28 with about US$5.4 million (euro 4.5 million) of the money from the heist, told police they helped dig the tunnel used by the thieves to get to the vault.

More than US$2 million (euro1.66 million) in cash was recovered shortly after the heist inside three pickup trucks found on a vehicle transporter several hundred miles from Fortaleza.

So far, authorities have recovered more than US$7 million (euro5.76 million).

The two other men arrested last month denied they had taken part in the robbery, but admitted they had been hired to carry the money out of Ceara state. Three other men were arrested in connection to the heist shortly after the money was discovered missing on August 8.

The US$70 million (euro57.64 million) taken from the bank surpassed the US$65 million (euro53.52 million) stolen in 1987 from the Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Center in London, once recognized by experts as the biggest robbery. But it was still less than the 2003 robbery of an Iraq central bank, where US$900 million (euro741.11 million) in U.S. bills and US$100 million (euro82.35 million) worth of euros were stolen.