Bolivian government denies involvement in airport gold heist

Sucre, Sep 2 (IANS) The Government of Bolivia announced that no Bolivian police officer had been involved in an armed attack at the airport of Juliaca in Peru, in which robbers made off with 123kg of gold, around $1.9 million and more than 9 million Peruvian soles ($2.3 million) in cash.

“After an exhaustive revision of all Bolivian police personnel, it was established that the names mentioned by the Peruvian daily, La Republica, did not match any member of Bolivian security forces,” Xinhua quoted an official press release from the Bolivian government on Tuesday.

Since the attack on August 28, Peruvian media had published information about the alleged assailants, who used tear gas to overpower guards and rob an armored truck and aircraft loaded with gold.

Six suspects were arrested on Sunday in the town of Canchi Grande, near Juliaca, with about 59kg of gold and $300,000 worth of cash being retrieved.

La Republica mentioned that one of those arrested was a presumed Bolivian policemen named as Juan Chirino Vargas. This prompted the Bolivian Ministry of Government to criticise the leak and to ask the newspaper to manage information in a “balanced, responsible and professional manner”.

Despite the Bolivian denial of his identity, Vargas remains in custody along with Zacarias Yana Quispe and Miguel Angel Perez Tirado. The three other suspects have been released.

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