Brink’s heist saga: How do you fence stolen gems worth millions? Inside the jewelry black market of the world
by Roberta Stroud
When Brink’s started marketing a new gem-cleaning service in 2010, it thought it was on top of the world.
The company had been at the cutting edge of a trend that was sweeping the world: gem-cleaning using ultraviolet light to break up stones, remove any flaws or embedded gems that could cause damage to the precious metal inside.
But as the industry grew and sales skyrocketed, the company quickly found itself under growing pressure to make money.
Fencing stolen gems was a lucrative business when the market was only just beginning, but now jewelers are making millions – estimated to be several times more than the actual value of the stolen gems – just by selling it around the world.
In the end, Brink’s had to get creative. It turned to criminal syndicates in the Middle East to finance its trade and put it into action.
In turn, one group, called the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, helped Brink’s reach its goal.
It worked with the group to fence the stolen gems before they could be sold to legitimate jewelers and then the stolen gems would be returned.
What are they?
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades are a criminal association that has been active in Syria for years. And in recent years, it has spread to other Middle East countries. They have pledged allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood, led by the country’s founder, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The group’s name refers to a group that the late Ayman al-Zawahiri had led in Iraq in the 1970s. The group was a violent force – responsible for numerous bombings, kidnappings and shootouts – especially in the 1980s.
Today, the group claims to operate three fronts: the so-called “Revolutionary Victory Brigades” in Syria, a group called the Syrian National Police in Iraq and a group called the Islamic Brigade in the northwestern region of Afghanistan. But Brink’s says its