RIO DE JANEIRO ~ Army troops have been moved in to control access to one of Brazil’s top tourist attractions, Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer monument, after police broke up a huge embezzling scam.
Federal police arrested 20 people last Thursday for allegedly embezzling US$150,000-$250,000 a month from funds tourists paid to visit the fabled landmark and symbol of the picturesque seaside city.
Right under the nose of the towering Christ with arms outstretched to form a cross, police launched Operation (Judas) Iscariot, nabbing ticket agents, tour guides, security guards and other police involved in the alleged theft of the money from the Tijuca National park service.
Federal police chief Paulo Lacerda told reporters that this wave of arrests was just the first phase of the operation and that more could follow.
Police said the people involved were mainly toll takers on Mount Corcovado, or better put, toll keepers.
Of every 15 vehicles that headed up to the monument, they only recorded one, and kept the change, police said of the skimming scam believed to have gone on for eight lucrative years.