STAFF REPORTER

PALMA
THE National Police Robbery Squad have broken up a gang of criminals in Palma for carrying out raids on three banks, an office and a private property - the latter belonging to businessmen who were assaulted and tied up, Avelino Brañas, the Squad Deputy Inspector said yesterday.

The thieves apparently made off with booty of some 55'000 euros which they later shared out and tried to send out of the country through an international money transfer service.

Brañas confirmed that five people in total have been arrested, four men and a woman, all allegedly involved in the gang's activities. The police operation, however, remains ongoing and further arrests are not discounted.

The Deputy Inspector yesterday described the gang as “well-established and organised, with a clear idea of the responsibility of each member.” The criminals were originally from Tenerife and came to Majorca two months ago with an outline plan in mind on raiding businesses and private property.

The banks were specifically targeted for their only having women staff. The gang chose their moment of attack at a time when there were few people using the premises - one would enter armed with a starter's pistol, capable of doing great damage if fired at close range, whilst another waited outside on guard.

Meanwhile, a businessman was attacked on leaving his office, assaulted and tied up whilst the gang members made off with 55'000 euros. At a private property, the owner was assaulted, bound, gagged and threatened whilst the thieves went in search of valuables.

After questioning the suspects, the police now believe they were planning to return to Tenerife on Thursday of last week but four of the gang were arrested on Wednesday and the fifth a day later. One member, French by birth, had spent time in the French Foreign Legion; another is Brazilian and the others are Spanish, said the Deputy Inspector.

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