FBI Finally Solve Biggest Heist In American History

published on July 9, 2020

During the night of september 121983 one man carried out what wasat the time the biggest cash robbery inamerican historymillions of dollars were lifted asvictor manuel garena

Devised and executed a plan to exploitwells fargo'sskimpy security protocols but there wasfar more to this robbery than met theeyeit spurred from a much grander

International political motive with 16more people involved behind the scenessome of the accused remained on the runfor decadesleading the fbi on a wild goose chasedid the authorities eventually track

Them downhow'd the successful heist play out andwhat was this overarching motivationlet's find out to illustrate how these17 individuals collaborated sosuccessfully and carried out one of the

Most expensive cash heists to have everoccurred on us soil we need tounderstandhow their victim the wells fargo companymade it so easyso allow us to set the scene the

Location is west hartford connecticuthere at 21 cobro drive in the cobroindustrial parkwells fargo had a depot in which itwould store significant amounts of cashthe general public remained rather

Clueless to the fact that they wereliving next to a metaphorical gold mineso wells fargo didn't mind allowing thewest hartford depot to holdfar more funds than most they wereallowed to keep as much as 30

Million dollars on site at the time thewells fargo branch was managed byjim mckeon jim wasn't dirty but he wasinexperiencedafter only five months of guard duty thecompany promoted him to manager

This was mistake number one the companyalso hired workers at minimum wagethis was the case for then 25 year oldvictor manuel garenavictor became jim's second in commandand was eventually given responsibility

To hold one of the cash vault's keysas it turns out that was mistake numbertwo about two weeks before the robberythe first steps were put into placenormally no vehicleother than the designated wells fargo

Transport vans were allowed inside thedelivery van areait was too risky to let any other carnear the vault for obvious reasonsbut knowing that his boss wasinexperienced in lax

Garena tested the waters he rented anugly duckling rent-a-car and told mckeonthat he'd borrowed the van from a friendwho would be mad if it was damagedso he needed to store it within theprivate parking lot

Even though this was a direct violationof company rules mckeon let it slidemistake number three fast forward to thenight of september 12 1983and everything was about to hit the faninside mckeon was at his desk

Outside a 1973 buick lesabre that gerenahad rentedsat parked near the vault while mckeonwas doing his regular paperwork to closeout his shiftgerena approached him and tricked him

Which led to mckeon looking down thebarrel of his own weaponfrom that point mckeon as well asanother on-shift co-worker werehandcuffedgerena injected them with a mixture of

Aspirin and water to act as a sedativewhich proved too weak to actually takeeffect allowing the pair to watchas gerina carried out the entire crimeusing a cartwhile his co-workers alertly watched on

Gerena made multiple trips between thevault and the buick until a total ofseven millionseventeen thousand one hundred and fiftytwo dollars had been stolenthat's over 18 million by today's

Standards then he fled the sceneonce the police arrived they assumedthat the case was clear-cut since theidentity of the perpetrator was knownand there were unquestionable witnessesso instead of focusing on chasing gerena

And finding him they focused on securingand investigating the crime scenehowever this crime wasn't clear cutthere was much more going on behind thescenes than anyone realizedbecause the police were prioritizing the

Scene of the crime they hadunintentionally given gerena anopportunity to fleegerena linked up with two associates whowere on standby at a motelthese men were part of an organization

Called the machete wielders but we'llcircle back to that in a momenthe gave them the car load of cash aswell as his legal idand then they split in differentdirections the associates drove north

Toward bostondeliberately dropping the id along theway as a decoymeanwhile with counterfeit documents inhand gerena wentsouth toward new york then was

Transported to mexicoand flown to cuba subsequent searches ofgerena's apartment and his call listcame up empty with only his passportbeing recoveredbefore too long victor manuel gerena was

Placed on the fbi's top 10 mostwanted fugitives list and remained atlarge for 25 yearsgerena was merely the inside man and theface of the operationbut there was much more at play behind

The scenes 16 other men were linked tothe crimea crime which had an intricate elaboratepolitical motivationincluding the cost of car rentalpurchasing of fake documents

Time spent formulating a plan andarranging for international transportthe gang could have easily spent upwardsof ten thousand dollars but that's justan estimationnow let's rewind for a second who were

These so-called machete wieldersthe name is the rough englishtranslation of the spanish monikerlos meschateros which was a nickname forthe boracuya popular a guerrilla groupthat sought puerto rican independence

From the united stateslos meschiteros had claimedresponsibility for a number of attacksagainst the united states armed forcesand had a complex often bitterrelationship with america

And as it turns out the mother of insideman victor garena named gloriawas an ardent supporter of independencefor puerto rico with that in mindit didn't take much for los maciteros torecruit victor garena to their side

Allegedly the major purpose of thisentire heist was to finance theoperation of los meschiteros and fundtheir stance and action against theunited statesbecause of the fact that victor gerena

Fled to cuba many investigators believethat the northern caribbean nation was aplayer in the heist as wellsome people including a former cubanintelligence agent have claimed thegovernment of fidel castro helped

Finance the wells fargo heistalthough we'll never know for sure overthe following two years the fbi gatheredits informationmeanwhile wells fargo was offering threehundred and fifty thousand dollars in

Reward for gerena's capture the fbidetermined that victor gerena hadplanned to take credit for the heist onbehalfof los meschiteros in a press event tobe held on september 24th 1984

This piece of information pushed the fbito focus their investigationon los meschiteros down in puerto ricoand the alleged leader of the groupfiliberto ojita rios was among many nowin the limelight

Two brothers avelino and norbertogonzalez were also under fireeventually after another year ofinvestigative digging had passed andafter the list of suspects had beencarefully created and checked the fbi

Made their moveduring the morning of august 30th 1985the fbi conducted unannounced raidswithout warrants in more than 30separate locations in puerto ricoeverywhere from carolina to caguas

Bayamon to vegabajaand lukuyo to guainabo juan segarrapalmer one of the leaders of the groupwas sentenced to 65 years in prison buthad his sentence commuted by former uspresident

Bill clinton on that morning all butfour of the suspects were arrested andcharged with involvementin mashiteros activities and the wellsfargo heistthis was far bigger than simply

Arresting those responsible thoughas the fbi tried to prosecute theperpetrators puerto rican groups foughtbackin december of 1985 a puerto ricannationalist paper

Called libertad warned the americanfederal government that if the arrestscontinuedthey should begin preparing theircemeteries also because they intended tosend mercenaries to american soil

Remember some of the suspects stillremained at largefiliberto ojeda rios had skipped bail in1990 while awaiting trialas victor gerena and the gonzalezbrothers norberto gonzalez and avelino

Gonzalez claudio remained on the runavelino gonzalez claudio was finallycaptured in 2008and sentenced in 2010 to seven years inprison for his role as one of therobberies masterminds

He pleaded guilty to conspiring to robthe wells fargo armored servicecorporation and to transporting thestolen money to mexicoavelino's older brother norberto wasseized in 2011

Found living in the small southernpuerto rican mountain townof caye while authorities did notdisclose what led to the arrest they didadmit that the 65 year old at the timehad managed to escape capture

For a quarter of a century by laying lowand operating under an aliasfollowing the famous robbery once caughtnorberto was forced to face multiplecharges that included bank robberyforeign and interstate transportation of

Stolen money and conspiracy to interferewith commerce by robbery he pleadedguilty to these charges as well asillegal possession of an automaticweapon as for filiberto ojeda riosthe leader of los meschiteros he was

Taken down in a shootout in 2005of the four arguably most involvedsuspectsone is still yet to be found the plannedcenterpiecevictor manuel gerena so as we know

The money didn't remain in the usa justlike victor gerena it was transportedacrossborders out of reach of easy fbidiscovery about 80 000in what was believed to be the stolen

Cash was uncovered in searches acrosspuerto rico and boston but the restremained unaccounted for so what exactlywas this seven million dollars used forthe federal government contends that thegroup spent about one million dollars

This was supposedly used to fundeducation food housing clothing and toysfor childrento the poorer puerto rican communitiesof the remaining 6 million4 million was scattered across safety

Deposit boxessavings accounts and farmhouse sellersin puerto ricowhile the other two million allegedlyended up in cubabut why cuba because as we touched on

Earlierallegedly they were involved a formercuban intelligence agent named jorgemasetti testified to us authoritiesthat the cuban government provided fiftythousand dollars in seed money

For the robbery mercedes claims to beinvolved in shippingsome of the seven million dollar hallfrom the cuban embassy in mexico city tohavana howevercuban officials have labeled this story

As entirely false let's take a step backfor a momentthe ideology driven thieves took themodern equivalent of 18 million dollarsbut once you factor in the cost of anongoing 25-plus year investigation the

Overall cost growstenfold on national institutes of healthstudy from 2007indicated the following as a result ofthe 23 million criminal offensescommitted in 2007

Victims lost close to 15 billion inorder to solve these same crimesgovernment agencies spent approximately179 billion dollars so for every onedollar stolenit took 12 to solve the crime if we

Loosely apply this ratio to the wellsfargo heist we can infer that the fbispent 84 million dollarswhich is over 200 million when adjustedfor inflation trying to catch themasterminds

Considering that the operations frontman is still on the loosethat number can only continue to growthe fbi offered a rewardup to one million dollars forinformation leading directly to the

Arrestof victor manuel gerena even though thewells fargo heist was the most expensivecash robbery in american history at thetimeit no longer holds that title a man

Named alan paceled the 1997 dunbar armored truckingcompany robberytogether with five childhood friendspace broke into the vaultneutralized two guards on their lunch

Breaks and loaded 189million dollars into a u-haul takinginflation into accountthat's a hefty 30 million dollar paydaybut that's a story for another daywhere do you think victor could be

Hiding let us know your thoughts in thecomments don't forget to like this videosubscribe to the channel and as alwaysthank you so much for checking out therichestsee you next time and have a great day

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