After high-powered rifles meant to be used by police began turning up on the black market, Paraguay officials started an investigation, the BBC reported.
They found where the rifles had come from. They also found a few unwelcome parting gifts from the crooks.
Paraguay officials say unknown thieves had broken into the National Police’s Department of Armaments and Munitions in Capiatá and made off 42 FAL-type rifles, which had come from Brazil originally, ABC Color reported.
Investigators noticed discrepancies between what should have been in storage and what they found, and realized the rifles left inside the building were fake, according to ABC Color.
The rifles had been replaced with non-functioning replicas made of wood and plastic, complete with black coloring and carved components — but no firing mechanism, according to InfoBae.
Officials believe the weapons were stolen to be sold on the black market in Brazil and neighboring countries, InfoBae reported. The Brazilian and Argentine governments have been placed on alert, according to the site.
The rifles had been removed from the armory after they had been originally placed into storage to be upgraded to newer models, the BBC reported. A police officer charged with guarding the area has been replaced, according to the site.
News of the heist comes about a year after a Brazilian gang reportedly stormed a police headquarters and security vault using explosives and automatic weapons, killing one officer and making off with about $8 million in loot, The Guardian reported in 2017. Local media reportedly described the attack as the “heist of the century,” according to the paper.
In that case, four suspects were arrested and three were killed in the chaos, with another eight arrested days later, CNN reported. Some of the stolen material, including cash and weapons, was recovered.