The ‘biggest bank heist in the world’ was foiled after police arrested a gang who spent four months building a mass 1,600ft tunnel underneath a bank so they could get to the vaults.
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Sixteen men have been arrested after Brazilian police officers discovered the huge tunnel under a Sao Paulo branch of the Bank of Brazil.
Officers had been monitoring the gang for three months but only discovered the tunnel on Monday.
By then the tunnel was complete and the officers had to act fast as the gang had already managed to break into the shell of the vault.
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If successful, the heist would have been the biggest bank robbery in history, according to local news reports.
Investigator Fabio Pinheiro Lopes said the gang spent $1.27 million to build the tunnel from a rented home nearby, which was stocked with food and tools when it was discovered.
Their plan was to steal $317 million (£240m).
Mr Lopes said: ‘The gang’s investment was in the range of 4 million real ($1.27 million), they said, each of the participants put in 200,000 real $6,340) and their estimate was to take 1 billion real ($317 million).
‘It would have been the biggest assault in the world.’
The men had used pieces of wood and iron bars to support the tunnel, which was big enough for a grown adult to stand up in.