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Source: Netflix

'The Great Heist' Was Inspired by This True and Rather Intriguing Story

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In Oct. 1994, a group of robbers forced their way inside a Banco de la República vault in Valledupar, Colombia, stealing some 24 billion pesos. 

Taking advantage of a bank holiday weekend, the criminal masterminds entered the building without causing lasting damages. They spent almost a day inside, walking away with enough cash to classify the deed as "The Robbery of the Century." 

The new Netflix show The Great Heist (original title: El robo del siglo) was inspired by this true story.

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'The Great Heist' was inspired by the true story of a group of criminal masterminds.

As a previous article by Vanguardia reveals, the thieves reportedly spent about three months preparing for the heinous deed, establishing links with various gangs, and members of the police, as they went along. 

Allegedly, they originally intended to take away a significantly smaller amount of money. As El Tiempo prompts, they supposedly extended the operation once they have learned how much cash was stored inside the vault. 

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Source: Netflix
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Colombia's Banco de la República urged every bank, financial and commercial institutions, to revise the serial numbers of the currencies they handle on Oct. 21, 1994, just a few days after the robbery, a previous article by UPI states. 

The bank is thought to have identified the banknotes. It's understood that they revoked the value of the banknotes stolen, thereby making them unfit for use. 

The crime led to lasting damages for the banking infrastructure in the northern parts of the country in particular, causing significant delays at most branches. 

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Source: Netflix

According to El Heraldo, Benigno Suárez Rincón, aka "Don Pacho," was the brains of the operation, alongside Alexander Flórez Salcedo. They managed to recruit then Police Lieutenant Juan Carlos Carrillo Peña, chief of the Sijín Jaime Bonilla Esquivel, Lieutenant César Augusto Barrera, and Second Lieutenant Jairo Alberto Barón. Fabio Guillermo Guzmán was later identified as the person who made the link with the uniformed men from the financial institution.

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Elkin Susa, aka "Camilo," was the financier of the robbery, assisting with 120 million pesos as well as welding equipment to access the vault.

The robbers were eventually caught, with Esquivel first turning himself in on Nov. 1, 1994. He would later be assassinated in 2004.

The bank manager Marco Emilio Zabala was linked to the robbery as well, though he always maintained his innocence. He was sentenced to 28 months behind bars, and he was acquitted in 1998 due to the fact that there was no evidence or testimony claiming that he had taken part.

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'The Great Heist' offers a new take on the unprecedented event.

The six-episode-long Netflix series chronicles the extensive preparation period and the aftermath of what has since then become known as one of the greatest money heists committed in the 1990s. 

At the focal point of the drama is Chayo (Andrés Parra), a jewelry shop owner overburdened with some serious financial troubles; his old associate, Molina (Christian Tappán), who goes by the nickname of the "Lawyer;" and two others, Doña K (Marcela Benjumea) and Dragon (Waldo Urrego). 

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Source: Netflix
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In almost six hours' worth of screen time, the show charts how the devilish group set out to prepare for the ghastly deed, the labor-heavy, unexpectedly complicated process of robbing the vault, and the complications they had to face after the robbery. 

Its vividly-detailed characters and brilliantly-devised narrative arc has already received a great deal of applause from the critics, with the NME's Lou Thomas venturing so far as to compare it to Sidney Lumet's 1975 cult-classic drama, titled Dog Day Afternoon. 

The Great Heist will become available on Netflix on Aug. 14. 

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