London police have foiled an attempted robbery of £40 million ($70 million) in gold bullion at Heathrow Airport, CNN reports.
Six men were arrested in the Monday morning raid by armed officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Flying Squad, Scotland Yard reportedly said. Two suspects escaped in a hijacked van, and one was arrested later.
“We have foiled what would have been one of the biggest robberies ever committed in the UK,” detective Superintendent Barry Phillips of the Flying Squad, reportedly said. We believe that these men were part of an organized criminal enterprise. It is clear that a lot of planning and preparation went into the attack, but the Met’s Flying Squad was one step ahead of the team for some time.”
Armed officers were lying in wait when a white van rammed through the shutters of Swiss Port Cargo warehouse on the outer perimeter of Heathrow, police reportedly said.
A gang of men got out of the van and threatened warehouse staff with at least one firearm and other weapons, including knives, Scotland Yard reportedly said.
The gang tried to steal the gold bullion at the warehouse and force their way into a secure area containing a large quantity of bank notes, police reportedly said.
The officers disabled the van and arrested six suspects, aged in their early to late 30s, but two other suspects hijacked a van and forced the driver to take them out of the area.
The van was recovered shortly afterwards and the driver was not injured.
Police reportedly said later that a seventh man had been arrested and that an eighth suspect was still being sought.
The best-known successful robbery at Heathrow was the Brinks Mat robbery in 1983, in which a six-man gang stole gold valued then at $46 million.