Colombia Casino Robbery Ends with Arrest of Gang Members

Posted on: May 3, 2022, 05:46h. 

Last updated on: May 4, 2022, 01:44h.

Colombian police ended a casino robbery in Santa Marta in the act this week, potentially stopping a crime spree. Among those captured is a man on the list of most-wanted criminals in the city.

Colombia police
A Colombian police officer on patrol. Several officers found themselves exchanging fire recently with thieves who had just robbed a casino. (Image: Shutterstock)

Three young men were caught in flagrante delicto while storming a casino on the urban perimeter of Santa Marta on Colombia’s Caribbean coast this week. Police identified the detainees as Brian “Bryan” Augusto Cantillo Salcedo, Estiven Aldemar García Ortiz, and Fernando José Nieto Leal, alias Fercho, according to media outlet El Heraldo.

The capture of the trio was possible due, in part, to the intervention of the local community. They warned police that an armed robbery was underway inside the casino. When the police arrived, they immediately came under fire, forcing them into action.

Fercho was shot in the left foot as he exchanged gunfire. But the officers prevailed and arrested all three. The foot wound wasn’t life-threatening.

Gang Takedown

At the time of the incident, police found a Smith & Wesson revolver, six 38-caliber cartridges, and an Ekol pistol, which only fires blanks. However, it wasn’t loaded and the police didn’t recover any ammunition.

Police also recovered five cell phones, bags with personal items, and 411,000 pesos ($102.30) in cash. That cash was allegedly all the robbers gained from the casino heist. 

But the bust was significant for law enforcement. Fercho reportedly has a rap sheet that included aggravated theft in 2015, 2022, and theft in 2017 and 2019. In addition, Bryan is one of Santa Marta’s most wanted criminals and a prime suspect in a string of robberies in the sector of the University of Magdalena.

Casinos Always Make Tempting Targets

Colombia has dealt with its share of casino robberies, as well.

In July of last year, eight armed men broke into the Texas Luxury casino in Barranquilla. After stripping the guard of his weapon and shooting a few warning rounds from their guns, the robbers seized an estimated 36 million pesos (US$8,960) in cash and goods.

Witnesses reported that the criminals arrived at the gates of the casino in a taxi. After committing the crime, they fled in the same vehicle. Other witnesses say that the subjects, in addition to the taxi, also arrived on two motorcycles.

The thieves took the customers’ belongings, including cash, jewelry, and cell phones. The robbery, according to witnesses, did not take more than three minutes. Police never caught the attackers.

A month later, a robbery occurred in a casino in the municipality of Funza, in the department of Cundinamarca. Local media reported that the subjects initially got away with about 16 million pesos (US$3,982). Police intervened during the robbers’ getaway, leading to a shootout.

The exchange left two of the subjects injured and three of them captured. It would have been difficult for the criminals to inflict any damage – the media reported they used prop guns like the Ekol.