‘Ninja Turtles’-inspired bank robbers pulled off ‘the heist of the century’ — but a thief’s wife blew it | Big Indy News
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‘Ninja Turtles’-inspired bank robbers pulled off ‘the heist of the century’ — but a thief’s wife blew it

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In 2006, an army of police officers surrounded the Banco Rio in Acassuso, Argentina, and negotiated for hours with a bold group of robbers inside.

The criminals took hostages and demanded the police bring them pizza, as the nation watched on live TV. Snipers perched in trees, ready to shoot if needed.

Finally, one robber told the police they were ready to surrender. But when law enforcement entered the bank, there wasn’t a perp to be found. They’d vanished without a trace, taking with them a reported $20 million in cash and valuables from safety deposit boxes.

“We use[d] [a] tunnel, not to break in, but to break out,” says the robbery’s mastermind, Fernando Araujo, in the new Netflix documentary “Bank Robbers: the Last Great Heist,” which debuts on Wednesday.  

“No one [had] ever planned to do a heist this way.”

The plan

For years, Fernando Araujo had been plotting how to tunnel into the bank.
Courtesy of Netflix

Araujo, an artist and small time pot grower, started concocting the plan in 2003, when he rented a house near the bank and began exploring the sewage tunnels beneath. Inspired in part by the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” he dubbed his scheme the “Donatello Project.”

Posing as an architecture student, he called the public works agency in Acassuso to get information on how the ground might handle tunnels. Then he convinced Sebastián García Bolster, a local motorcycle mechanic to join his team as a civil engineer.

They calculated how to drill 15 meters diagonally into the bank, essentially making their tunnel a triangular hypotenuse between the building’s basement and the sewer. Doing so would require some heavy machinery.

Sebastián García Bolster was brought on as an engineer to the robbery.
Sebastián García Bolster was brought on as an engineer to the robbery.
Courtesy of Netflix

“To make a hole the size of a soda bottle [with pickaxes] took one hour. It was impossible. So we had to bring in a 220 watt generator so we could use an electro pneumatic drill,” Araujo says.

As their plans came together, they found more men to be part of the heist. Career crook Rubén “Beto” de la Torre was recruited as muscle and Luis Mario Vitette Sellanes came on as well — he would become designated police negotiator. They recruited another man referred only in the film as “the Doc” and said to be both a lawyer and a sophisticated thief.

After years of tinkering, the plan came into focus. Rather than going through the sewer to exit to local waters, as law enforcement would likely predict, Araujo’s team would go deeper into the city’s bowels.

The robbers modified a van so that they could climb through its floor directly from the sewers.
The robbers modified a van so that they could climb through its floor directly from the sewers.
Courtesy of Netflix

The crew bought an old van and customized it to have a floor hatch so they could park it above a manhole and climb directly into the vehicle without ever going out onto the street. They recruited a man named Julián Zalloecheverría to be their driver and someone called “the kid” to serve as extra muscle.

D-Day

The hostages were freed once the perps escaped through their tunnel.
The hostages were freed once the perps escaped through their tunnel.
AFP via Getty Images

At around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 13, 2006, the team of robbers stormed in through the front door of the bank, guns in hand and ready to take hostages. Sellanes went to the top floor to get the bank manager, then brought the man to the basement where the safe and security boxes were. There, he forced a security guard to surrender his weapon and then leave the building.

Araujo and Beto focused on the bank’s ground level, managing hostages and securing exits.

Police quickly descended upon the bank, and Sellanes began fake negotiations with the cops to get more time for his accomplices to gather the loot. He threw on a fake mustache, yarmulke, and glasses to throw off police and snipers peering through the bank’s windows. At 2:30 p.m., he made a point of releasing two hostages.

Luis Mario Viette Sellanes donned a disguise when negotiating with police.
Luis Mario Viette Sellanes donned a disguise when negotiating with police.
Courtesy of Netflix

Meanwhile, Bolster was in the basement using a special cannon to break open deposit boxes as quickly as possible.

“I didn’t stop to see what was inside or if it actually opened or anything,” Bolster says. “Just breaking, breaking, breaking all the locks.”

After two hours, they’d cracked open 143 boxes and it was time to escape. Sellanes told authorities they were ready to give up.

“Bring us some pizzas, bring us some soda, we’ll have a little food and surrender,” Sellanes recalls telling the negotiators. He knew they would be out of the building by the time forces entered.

The robbers demanded the police to give them pizza and they would surrender.
The robbers demanded the police to give them pizza and they would surrender.
AFP via Getty Images

The robbers splashed chlorine throughout the bank to cover their DNA and tossed random strands of hair around to throw off crime scene investigators. Then they escaped into their tunnels and into the sewer without a trace.

There, two small boats, one with a motor awaited them. But the motor wouldn’t start, so the men had to paddle through the sewer to reach their van 14 blocks away. Araujo laid sprawled out atop the loot in one of the boats to secure it.

They successfully made it to the van and drove to their safe house. The cops were none the wiser.

Police surrounded the bank during the heist. They negotiated with the robbers.
Police surrounded the bank during the heist. They negotiated with the robbers.
AFP via Getty Images

“Right away, the first thing I wanted to do was turn on the TV and make sure they weren’t behind,” Araujo says in the film. “Here we were with the money so far away.”

The men then divided the money evenly amongst themselves and parted ways.

Sellanes says he drove off with “four trashbags full of cash.”

Authorities were at first baffled by the escape. They didn’t even realize the gang had tunneled out until a bank worker spotted a piece of out of place furniture covering the hole.

It was a high tension situation in Argentina when a bank was robbed and hostages were taken in 2006.
It was a high tension situation in Argentina when a bank was robbed and hostages were taken in 2006.
AFP via Getty Images

In it, they found booby traps and a note from Araujo that read, in Spanish, “in a rich neighborhood, without weapons or grudges, it’s just money and not love.”

It was a picture perfect job, the take was massive, the police had no leads and no one had been injured. Araujo and Co. seemed to have gotten away with the heist of the century and would be able to enjoy their riches in peace.

One loose end

In 2006, a group of robbers pulled of "the heist of the century." But one woman led to their demise.
In 2006, a group of robbers pulled of “the heist of the century.” But one woman led to their demise.
Courtesy of Netflix

Then, weeks after the robbery, Beto noticed something amiss.

“I come back [home] one day and find my [stash] bag is out of place,” he says in the film. “I saw the stack of money had dropped, quite a bit.”

His wife, Alicia di Tullio, admitted to him that she had taken about $300,000 and some safety deposit loot from Beto without asking permission.

Alicia Di Tullio led to the arrest of Rio Bank culprits.
Alicia Di Tullio led to the arrest of Rio Bank culprits.

The two, who had been together 18 years, got into a blowout argument. Beto demanded she bring back what she taken immediately and left the house with his remaining loot in a huff. Furious, di Tullo called the police and turned in her husband.

The men realized their perfect plan had been thwarted. Sellanes recalls the Doc calling him frantically, saying “De la Torre’s wife is going to turn us all in soon, she’s asking for each of us to pay her $300,000, if we won’t she’s gonna give us up.”

Sellanes replied: “Doc, she can go f–k herself. I’m not giving her a thing, let Beto fix all this with her and leave me out of it.”

But Beto couldn’t fix what his wife had done.

“Beto” de la Torre was brought on as muscle for the heist.
“Beto” de la Torre was brought on as muscle for the heist.
Courtesy of Netflix

Beto, Bolster, Sellanes, Araujo and Zalloecheverría were all arrested and charged, with di Tullio serving as a confidential witness.

“She told us she had knowledge about the situation…for the purposes of this case, there is no proof that allows us to say what happened between [Beto and Di Tullio],” prosecuting district attorney Gastón Garbus says in the film. “I feel like it’s related to the cash and it wasn’t induced from matter of spite over the presence of another lady.”

Beto confirmed that her motive was money. “She valued [it] more than family and that was it, the tragic ending of my story, I think of everyone’s too,” he said.

In 2010, Beto was sentenced to 15 years, Araujo was given 14, Zalloecheverría got 10 and Bolster got nine. Sellanes agreed to a separate, expedited trial where he was given 14 years for not just the robbery but other miscellaneous crimes he was found connected to around that time as well. The Doc and the kid were never caught.

A happy ending for all?

Fernando Araujo was the robbery's mastermind.
Fernando Araujo was the robbery’s mastermind.
Courtesy of Netflix

None of the men ended up serving the sentences in full and all are now free and celebrated for their notorious heist.

“There were people who suddenly idolized this and see it as, I don’t know, something out of the ordinary,” Araujo says.

Sellanes has amassed over 30,000 Twitter followers, and the gang’s story was immortalized in a 2020 thriller-comedy “The Heist of the Century.”

Araujo says their story has a happy ending.

“Everyone who played a role in this story won. Prosecutors advanced careers, police officers became detectives afterwards and the judges were recognized. The victims’ insurance got them more than they had,” he says.

In the documentary, several of the men hint that much of the cash and valuables they scored was never recovered.

“Everybody’s curiosity, it’s great…where is [the rest of the loot]? It’s in the Cayman Islands in the, you better write this down, CBU [account] number 24!” Araujo says sarcastically.



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This Off-the-Shoulder Sequin Top Is Perfect for New Year’s Eve — On Sale Now!

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Us Weekly has affiliate partnerships so we may receive compensation for some links to products and services.

Our closet is like a New Year’s Eve graveyard, filled with the sequined skeletons of past holiday outfits we’ve since discarded. That’s the thing about New Year’s — it often feels like a waste of money for just a few hours of fun. Rather than splurge on a sparkly dress you’ll only wear once, we recommend buying a staple piece you can style over and over again. Our top choice? This off-the-shoulder shirt that’s currently on sale from Amazon.

Adorned with sequins and available in 12 different colors, this trendy top features a flattering silhouette that complements all figures. The drapey style shows off a little skin while still covering trouble areas on arms, and the relaxed fit skims curves nicely. You can mix and match this statement shirt with a variety of bottoms, from high-waisted pants to a mini skirt. Since the options are endless, you’re getting more bang for your buck.

Read on to find out why this sequin shirt is a New Year’s Eve necessity!

Get the Anna-Kaci Women’s Short Sleeve One Shoulder Sequin Top for just $36 (originally $45) at Amazon! Please note, prices are accurate at the date of publication, December 23, 2022, but are subject to change.

The Anna-Kaci Women’s Short Sleeve One Shoulder Sequin Top is perfect for a New Year’s Eve party! The unofficial dress code of the holiday is sequins, so you’ll fit right in. Bonus: this top is surprisingly comfortable.

We also love the versatility of this sparkly shirt. As everyone else around you is freezing in frocks, you can choose to complete your ensemble with warm pants or a blazer on top. Pair this shirt with faux leather pants in the winter or shorts in the summer! Stick with a solid shade, or go all out with a multicolored or ombré option.

Get the Anna-Kaci Women’s Short Sleeve One Shoulder Sequin Top for just $36 (originally $45) at Amazon! Please note, prices are accurate at the date of publication, December 23, 2022, but are subject to change.

Take this sparkly shirt from a holiday party to a concert! Stand out on any special occasion in this fun top that will earn you all the compliments. As one shopper said, “This shirt was perfect for attending a bling Christmas party. It fit well and shined brightly. It’s perfect for events.” Another customer gushed, “This shirt is everything! Comfy, flattering and makes this boxy girl have a waist!” And if you’re worried about this top feeling less than luxe, just read this rave review: “Many sequined tops and dresses look more like a costume to me, but this one doesn’t. I ordered for a concert but feel like it is something I will also wear on other occasions.”

On New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, rock this one-shoulder sequin shirt, on sale now at Amazon!

See It! Get the Anna-Kaci Women’s Short Sleeve One Shoulder Sequin Top for just $36 (originally $45) at Amazon! Please note, prices are accurate at the date of publication, December 23, 2022, but are subject to change.

Not your style? Shop more from Anna-Kaci here and explore more tops here! Don’t forget to check out all of Amazon’s Daily Deals for more great finds!

Looking for other New Year’s outfit ideas? Check out more picks below:

This post is brought to you by Us Weekly’s Shop With Us team. The Shop With Us team aims to highlight products and services our readers might find interesting and useful, such as wedding-guest outfits, purses, plus-size swimsuits, women’s sneakers, bridal shapewear, and perfect gift ideas for everyone in your life. Product and service selection, however, is in no way intended to constitute an endorsement by either Us Weekly or of any celebrity mentioned in the post.

The Shop With Us team may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. In addition, Us Weekly receives compensation from the manufacturer of the products we write about when you click on a link and then purchase the product featured in an article. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product or service is featured or recommended. Shop With Us operates independently from the advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback at ShopWithUs@usmagazine.com. Happy shopping!

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‘Babylon’ stars Margot Robbie, Jean Smart fear deepfakes: ‘Year 3000 porn’

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Jean Smart and Margot Robbie aren’t so fond of advanced technology in Hollywood.

During promotion for the film “Babylon” — which documents the rise and fall of characters in 1920s Hollywood — the cast of the movie was asked what they believe will be the next big shift in Tinseltown.

In Entertainment Weekly’s “Around the Table” video series, almost all the actors who joined — including Robbie, Smart, Brad Pitt, Diego Calva, Jovan Adepo and Li Jun Li — agreed they were concerned about deepfakes.

Deepfakes use artificial intelligence to manipulate videos and replace the likeness of one person with another.

Margot Robbie and Diego Calva in “Babylon.”
Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures via AP

“Are they just going to take our faces, and we won’t even be going to work anymore?” Robbie, 32, said.

“So creepy,” Pitt, 59, chimed in.

Smart echoed the concern but pointed out that their likeness can be used even after they’re gone.

“Or after you’re dead, they’ll go, ‘Oh, let’s put Margot Robbie in that movie’ — a hundred years from now, having her doing God knows what. And your estate will have to sue them. It’ll be horrible, Margot,” the 71-year-old actress said.

Margot Robbie, left, and Li Jun Li in "Babylon."
Margot Robbie and Li Jun Li in “Babylon.”
Paramount Pictures via AP

The “Hacks” star continued saying that she’s troubled by seeing Marilyn Monroe in TV commercials and Fred Astaire in Coke commercials due to the technology in Hollywood — and said she will not be OK with her likeness being used after she’s dead.

“Unless my kids are getting rich off it. Of course. In that case, then it’s all right,” Smart quipped.

But there’s one thing that is absolutely off the table for Smart’s likeness.

“I don’t want to be in a year-3000 porn,” she added.

Jean Smart in "Babylon."
Jean Smart said she will not be OK with her likeness being used after she’s dead.
Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures via AP

Meanwhile, some celebrities are already using deepfakes for projects.

Back in September, it was reported that an AI platform created a “digital twin” of Bruce Willis, who was diagnosed with aphasia — a brain disorder that affects his ability to communicate, which will allow him to appear on screen after his retirement from acting.

The “Die Hard” actor’s deepfake already made its debut in August 2021 when his face was “grafted” onto Konstantin Solovyov for a commercial for MegaFon, a Russian telecommunications company.

His estate has the final say on what’s created with his face.

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Erika Jayne is spotted in LA as she sports a pale blue sweatsuit and sunglasses during shopping trip

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Make-up free Erika Jayne shops for expensive Christmas gifts at luxury store Hermès in LA – amid the RHOBH star’s money woes

Erika Jayne went without makeup as she shopped in Los Angeles days before Christmas.

The fashionista was low-key as she wore a pair of oversized glossy black rectangle-shaped sunglasses. 

The 51-year-old Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star – who has been battling money woes ever since her ex husband was declared bankrupt – was dressed expensively in a pale blue Alexander Wang sweatsuit and sneakers.

Bare face: Erika Jayne went without makeup as she shopped in Los Angeles days before Christmas

The platinum blonde beauty wore her locks bone straight, styled in an undefined part as they cascaded over her shoulders.

She looked cozy in her crew neck top and matching loose-fitting sweats, which she coordinated with pale pink and blue sneakers. 

Erika carried an Hermès bag on her arm as she carried a small, bottled water with pristinely manicured hands.

She was out and about by herself as she fit in some retail therapy two days before Christmas.

Under the radar: The fashionista was low-key as she wore a pair of oversized glossy black rectangle-shaped sunglasses

Under the radar: The fashionista was low-key as she wore a pair of oversized glossy black rectangle-shaped sunglasses

Last weekend Erika got into the holiday spirit as she attended a Christmas party with friend and costar Lisa Rinna.

Both women flaunted their long, toned legs as they wore dresses to the event hosted by friend Sanela Diana Jenkins.

Jayne took to Instagram to share a snapshot from the gathering in which she and Lisa kicked their legs up.

‘This was the BEST Christmas party EVER!!!’ she wrote in the caption as the photo showed her in a luxe white fur coat.

Season's greetings: Last weekend Erika got into the holiday spirit as she attended a Christmas party with friend and costar Lisa Rinna

Season’s greetings: Last weekend Erika got into the holiday spirit as she attended a Christmas party with friend and costar Lisa Rinna

The fashion-forward socialite donned a pair of pointy-toe metallic purple heels as she sat in a chair designed to look like a sleigh.

Rinna was equally stylish in a cream blazer dress with a black satin collar and gold accoutrements set in a pattern.

She added a pair of knee-high black leather boots and carried a metallic gold clutch.

Erika finished her caption with a shoutout to Lisa as she wrote: ‘thanks for babysitting me and telling me what happened at the party.’

Looking great: The two gal pals were also spotted together earlier this month as they attended the 2022 People's Choice Awards with their Bravo TV castmates

Looking great: The two gal pals were also spotted together earlier this month as they attended the 2022 People’s Choice Awards with their Bravo TV castmates

The two gal pals were also spotted together earlier this month as they attended the 2022 People’s Choice Awards with their Bravo TV castmates. 

For her part, Erika wore a long, mock neck bodycon dress with a trendy, nude silhouette graphic design.

Rinna, who’s feuding with Kathy Hilton amid the RHOBH hiatus, donned a long black dress with a plunging neckline. 

Engaging with her 2.5 million followers on Instagram, Jayne shared photos and wrote in a caption: ‘I had fun last night.’

Hot! Erika wore a long, mock neck bodycon dress with a trendy, nude silhouette graphic design

Hot! Erika wore a long, mock neck bodycon dress with a trendy, nude silhouette graphic design

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