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Tourist Killed in Buenos Aires Robbery: Airline Insiders Selling Passenger Information to Criminals

Tourist Killed in Buenos Aires Robbery: Airline Insiders Selling Passenger Information to Criminals

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Story Highlights
  • Matthew Gibbard shot and killed in botched robbery outside hotel in Buenos Aires
  • Stepson, Stefan Zone also shot and injured during armed robbery
  • British family may have been followed from airport by ‘motochorros’ gang
  • Claims that airline insiders are selling information about wealthy passengers
  • Four suspects arrested, Argentine President says those responsible must pay

On Saturday morning, British tourist Matthew Gibbard was shot and killed in a botched robbery attempt outside the luxury Faena hotel in the Puerto Madero neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. His stepson, Stefan Zone was also shot and injured after armed robbers launched their attack on the family as they stepped out of their taxi.

The Gibbard family had only just arrived in the city for a vacation after an overnight British Airways flight that landed in the Argentine capital at around 9am the same day. It’s believed the victims had been picked up and followed all the way from Ezeiza International Airport (EZE) by the robbers who are known in the country as ‘motochorros’ on account of how they pounce on their victims off the back of motorbikes.

Matthew Gibbard, 50, was shot in the armpit as he tried to fight back the robbers.  He died a few minutes after the attack from massive blood loss.  His stepson was shot in the leg but is said to be recovering well after being transferred to the Argerich hospital in the city.

Gibbard’s’ wife and Stefan’s girlfriend were said to be unharmed in the attack.

The popular Argentinian daily La Nacion reports that four suspects have now been arrested in connection with the murder and attempted robbery.  Alberto Fernández, the country’s new president condemned the attack and called for those responsible to be punished with the full force of the law as quickly as possible.

Fernández admitted that crime levels have skyrocketed and blamed the country’s poor economic situation for the increasing organisation and sophistication of violent street robbers.

So sophisticated, in fact, that travel safety expert, Lloyd Figgins told Sky News that insiders working for airlines had been selling information about wealthy passengers to criminal gangs so that they can target victims as soon as they arrive in Argentina.

“We’re starting to see they are having insiders working for airlines, where they are actually getting the manifest of a particular flight in order they can see who the business class travellers are, where they might be staying, and then targeting their vehicle from the moment they leave the airport, and knowing exactly which hotel they are going to,” Figgins told the broadcaster.

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warns British travellers to Argentina to “hand over your cash and valuables without resistance” if robbers attack.  The FCO warns of several tactics used by criminal gangs to rob tourists but does not specifically mention the risk of being followed from the airport.

In July, a group of British cabin crew working for Norwegian were robbed at gunpoint outside the airline’s layover hotel in the city.  In the incident, no one was injured and it’s not known whether the criminals realised the hotel was where the airline had cabin crew staying.

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