French police arrested 17 people early on Monday morning in connection with the robbery of reality TV star Kim Kardashian in Paris last October.
The suspects were apprehended in coordinated raids around Paris and in the French Riviera.
Officers say they traced the subjects using DNA found at the luxury residence where Kardashian, 36, was tied up, locked in the bathroom and robbed of some €9 million worth of jewellry – including her 20-carat wedding ring.
According to LCI, the main suspects — 3 women and 13 men — are known rogues from the “banlieues” (housing projects) and people from the travelling community, with the oldest thought to be 72 years old.
Kardashian was captured and robbed at gunpoint after a gang of five masked men dressed as police officers burst into her room at an exclusive guesthouse in Paris’ chic 8th arrondissement during Paris Fashion Week.
The star was sleeping alone that night as her bodyguard, Pascal Duvier, was accompanying her sister Kendall Jenner to a club.
Surveillance footage shows perpetrators calmly leaving the scene on foot and on bicycles. But during their escape, one of them dropped a diamond-studded pendant estimated at €30,000 on the street outside. It was found by a passer-by the following day and handed to the police.
While the robbers acted professionally, they left at least one trace of DNA on one of the clamps used to bind Kim, which forensic experts were able to match to a known criminal.
“One of the DNA samples matched an individual known to police for robbery and criminal offenses, who is considered a major thug,” officials said.
Police identified two of the suspects and immediately put the men under surveillance, according to Le Point. The investigation lasted three months.
Although she was not hurt during the incident, friends said Kardashian was deeply affected by the robbery.
After months of silence she finally discussed about the ordeal this weekend, saying she feared the robbers would come after her.
“They’re going to shoot me in the back,” a teary Kim told her sisters, recalling her fears in a promotional clip for the new season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
“There’s no way out. It makes me so upset to think about it,” she added.
France has experienced some of the most spectacular heists in history in recent years— most notably in Cannes, where a sole man wearing a ball cap managed to snatch almost $136 million worth of diamonds, without gunfire or injury in 2013.
A month after the Kardashian robbery, two Qatari women were also held up on a motorway outside Paris and robbed of more items worth some €5 million.
The two women, in their 60s, had just left Le Bourget airport when their chauffeur-driven Bentley was held up by two masked men who sprayed them with tear gas. The men then forced the car’s boot open before fleeing with their valuables.