A Casino Royale-type gang has only just been brought to ground by a PJ investigation after months in which they targeted players who had just won major amounts in the gaming halls of Lisbon and Estoril.
Their worst attack appears to have been on a Chinese man who left Estoril Casino in the early hours of the morning, in May.
The man was “kidnapped” by the masked gang, which presumed he had large quantities of money on him. When they found that he did not, they forced him to direct them to his home.
Always demanding thousands of euros, the men then set about beating their victim savagely, around his face, eyes and all over his body, writes Diário de Notícias.
Again, however, they found nothing – and thus the foreigner’s ordeal continued, as the gang insisted on him taking them to the home of a family member who he said would have money.
The Chinese man was eventually thrown out of the vehicle, as the gang realised pedestrians now appearing in the streets might see them.
And thus began the investigation that discovered a slew of similar victims – mostly men, but some women too, tourists and even elderly people.
All were “approached” either outside the casinos, or as they made their ways home.
Some were gagged and blindfolded, others held in chokeholds. As national tabloid Correio da Manhã explained, the gang “did not care what injuries they caused”.
Now rounded up, along with “high-cylinder” cars purchased with the “proceeds of the assaults”, the six-strong gang on Lisbon men, all with criminal records, and aged between 23 and 29, are due to be heard in court.
Casinos offer security for high winners
Meantime, Estoril Sol – the company running Estoril Casino, has told DN it has a special home-ferrying service for VIP winners.
“Any time a client wins thousands of euros at the tables, they can request the service,” president Mário Assis Ferreira explained. “Any winner can ask for it, although we don’t expect anyone who wins €50 or even €1,000 to do so”.