Portugal’s Judiciary Police have arrested ten suspects, including military personnel, suspected of secretly airlifting and then selling diamonds, gold and drugs while on UN peacekeeping missions.
On Monday, Portuguese authorities conducted massive searches at a hundred locations, which reportedly included a military compound and banks, all across the country as part of a probe into a gemstone and drug-smuggling ring within the country’s military.
The suspects include personnel of the Republican National Guard as well as the Public Security Police. They are accused of using military planes to transport illegal and precious goods from Central Africa Republic, where they were part of UN peacekeeping operations.
Police say that once diamonds had reached Portugal, they were then taken to Belgium by the suspects who sold them. According to police, the ill-gotten profits were invested in Bitcoin cryptocurrency. It has not been revealed yet how much money the group raked in, though some media outlets mention diamonds being sold at ‘millionaire prices’.
It was also reported that the suspects were involved in drug trading at home.
According to the Portuguese armed forces, they issued a statement confirming that they first received tip-offs about members of international missions involved in diamond smuggling starting in December 2019.
In an apparent attempt to save face in the international arena, Portugal’s foreign minister pointed out that “He never saw anyone refer to the Portuguese troops involved in international operations other than when they were needed.”
Currently, there are 180 Portuguese peacekeepers deployed to the war-torn Central African Republic.
Numerous scandals have engulfed UN blue helmets representing a variety of countries in the recent past. Most shocking of all, human rights organizations have accused them of raping civilians, including in Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic.
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