5 Portuguese military police arrested in Tancos weapons heist investigation

tancos weapons

At least five members of Portugal’s Military Judiciary Police and the Republican National Guard are arrested in connection with a weapons heist that occurred last year in the central parish of Tancos.

Among those arrested in the operation dubbed “Operation Hubris” was the director of Portugal’s Military Judiciary Police, Colonel Luís Vieira, according to a report in TSF on Tuesday.

According to the same source, the investigation is related to the mounting scenario regarding the discovery and recovery of the weapons that had been stolen in Tancos in June, 2017.

According to the BBC, among the weapons stolen were:

  • 1,450 9mm ammunition cartridges
  • 150 hand grenades
  • 44 anti-tank grenades
  • 18 tear gas grenades
  • 102 explosive charges
  • 264 pieces of plastic explosive

Most of the weapons stolen in Tancos were found on October 18, 2017, in the region of Chamusca.

Operation Hubris

The latest investigations into who stole the weapons resulted this week in searches being conducted at various locations in Greater Lisbon, Algarve, Porto and Santarém. During Operation Hubris, five prosecutors and about 100 investigators and experts from the Judiciary Police participated, the Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

Various crimes are involved: “criminal association, denial of justice, misrepresentation, falsification of documents, influence peddling, personal favoritism practiced by an employee, abuse of power, possession of a prohibited weapon and arms trafficking.”

Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa recalled that he insisted from the first day on the integral clarification of the Tancos case and the importance of the criminal investigation, and recently, on September 10, he reiterated that he expected developments in this investigation.

On 18 October, the Military Judiciary Police recovered almost all the weapons that had been stolen from the Tancos base at the end of June, except for 9-millimeter munitions, according to Noticias de Coimbra.

However, among the material found, in an open field at Chamusca, at a location 21 kilometers from the Tancos base, there was a box with a hundred small explosives of 200 grams which did not appear in the initial list of the material that had been stolen, which was devalued by the Army and attributed to inventory failures.

In July of 2017, the BBC reported that five military commanders had been suspended at the time while an internal investigation was taking place.

There was no indication they were directly involved in the raid, chief of staff Gen Frederico Rovisco Duarte said in 2016; however, their units were thought to be in charge of securing and monitoring the storage area.

It was suspected right away, but now all signs point towards an inside job.

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