Massive Gold Heists Strike Mexico, Brazil
Even in a world of advanced security technologies, major bank robberies still happen.
Funny enough, it's not always computer hackers using digital means in these modern-day thefts. Old-fashioned gold heists still occur with some frequency.
Two examples in the news come from Latin America in the past month alone.
$2.5 Million Gold Coin Heist
Last week, thieves made off with hundreds of large gold coins from a Banxíco (Bank of Mexico) government mint located in Mexico City.
The robbers were presumably armed when they stole the coins from the bank's vault—in broad daylight!—in the country's capital city.
Supposedly the vault door was left open. It's unclear if this means it was literally wide open or simply unlocked. Precisely how access was gained remains a mystery. Employees who were present are being questioned.
In total, the group of four thieves stole 1,567 gold centenarios. Each of these coins contains more than a troy ounce of gold, and currently trades for about $1,600.
The Daily Mail (U.K.) reported that three of the four suspects have potentially been identified by authorities, but that news is best taken with a grain of salt.
Centenarios are gold coins with a face value of 50 pesos. They were initially issued from 1921 (i.e. the centennial of Mexican independence) to 1972, excepting the year 1948.
The coins have been minted again in more recent years. All issues from 1949 and after bear the dual date inscription of "1821" and "1947." This way, the mint doesn't need to make new dies.
In all likelihood, the coins will be melted down by the perpetrators in an attempt to conceal the source of their loot.
However, Mexican gold centenarios have remained popular with bullion investors throughout the 20th century thanks to their large size and classic design (see image below) showing the bare-breasted statue, the "Angel of Independence." The coins are still seen with regularity in the over-the-counter North American gold trade.
More Gold Thefts in Latin America
The brazen Mexico City theft was closely preceded by a similar crime in Brazil.
Only weeks prior, another armed heist involving gold took place at an airport in Guarulhos, not far from São Paulo.
The thieves in this case had disguised their vehicle to look like a police SUV and intercepted a cargo shipment containing some 750 kilos of precious metals and other valuables.
It really sounds like something out of a Bond movie. There was supposedly even a kidnapping involved in the Brazilian heist, where the haul was reported to be about $40 million.
Luckily, nobody was injured in either of these cases.
You can find more coverage of both of these events in CoinWeek.
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Everett has been the head content writer and market analyst at Gainesville Coins since 2013. He has a background in History and is deeply interested in how gold and silver have historically fit into the financial system.