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Russian police find $2.1 million haul of stolen jewelry & diamonds buried in remote forest after international manhunt for thief

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Investigators have uncovered four bags stuffed with precious stones worth millions of dollars buried in the woods in Russia’s Tatarstan region. The jewels were stolen from an exhibition three years ago, sparking a massive search.

Local officers announced on Thursday that they had discovered the cache, which included diamonds, rings, and other valuables with a total worth of more than 160 million rubles ($2.1 million), lifted from a Russian jewelry company in 2018. A suitcase containing the trove had been packed up ready for transportation after the gems were showcased at a fair in the city of Kazan, held while thousands of foreign football fans were in the city for the World Cup. However, the bag went missing before it made it to the airport.

© Министерство внутренних дел по Республике Татарстан



Based on CCTV and biological material from the crime scene, investigators believed that Valero Edgar Alejandro, a Colombian national who helped pack up the valuables, was responsible for the theft. He was detained by police in Argentina in September 2019, before being extradited to Russia in March this year.

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A spokeswoman for the country’s interior ministry, Irina Volk, said, “The Colombian admitted that he had buried the stolen items in a forest belt around one of the districts of Kazan. Due to the fact that the accused did not specify the location of the cache, the police had no choice but to investigate a wide area of land.”

On Friday, 2,613 separate diamonds and pieces of jewelry were handed over to the rightful owners. Vasily Savvin, director of the Seven Diamonds group, lavished praise on the police, and said the recovery “made me believe miracles can happen.” The stolen haul had accounted for up to 70% of the value of the business.

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