A gang of 30 thieves have been charged after stealing 133 tonnes of chicken from a factory in one of the rarest heists in history.
Thieves took 1,660 white boxes packed with meat from a state facility in Cuba’s capital city of Havana.
They then went on to sell the food on the street and used the money to buy laptops, TVs, fridges and air conditioners.
Authorities did not say when the chicken theft took place, but believe it likely occurred between the hours of midnight and 2am, when they detected fluctuations in the temperature of the cold storage facility.
Video surveillance captured trucks transporting the chicken off site.
Among those charged were shift bosses and IT workers at the plant as well as security guards and outsiders not directly affiliated with the company, according to a Cuban state TV broadcast on Friday night.
If found guilty, the suspects could face as many as 20 years in prison.
Their haul amounted to anywhere between 33,000 to 53,000 chickens, based on the average weight of a hen.
Rigoberto Mustelier, director of government food distributor COPMAR, said the quantity stolen was the equivalent of a month`s ration of chicken for an entire average-sized province at current distribution rates.
It comes at a time of major food shortages in the communist-run nation.
The chicken had been earmarked for Cuba`s ‘ration book’ system introduced after the late Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution to provide subsidised staples for all.
The amount of chicken available via the ration book has fallen sharply in recent years as economic crisis has brought scarcities of food, fuel and medicines.
Many subsidised products such as rice, beans, sugar, pork, chicken, beef and fish reach people days, weeks or even months later than scheduled.
People in Cuba – who make an average wage of just 4,209 Cuban pesos per month, which amounts to only £11 at the informal exchange rate – are then left to seek other ways to make ends meet.
Cuba imports most of the food and fuel it uses, but revenue has dipped majorly since the Covid pandemic.
The economic dip has been compounded by strict US sanctions and a major drop off in tourism which has previously been the lynchpin of the nation’s income.
In that time crime has also increased, however, large-scale thefts such as this are still rare on the Caribbean island.
Last year, five men were convicted for one of the biggest art heists in modern history after stealing £100million worth of jewels, including a diamond-encrusted sword, from a museum in Germany.
And in Canada, thieves pulled off an audacious heist at an airport which saw them escape with £12,000,000 (C$20m) worth of gold and valuables.
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