Gendarmes on the scene of the October 22, 2014, robbery of the Goldfinger store on Rue de la République. (Photo Le Pélican)
MARIGOT–The Court in Guadeloupe has sentenced two of three Venezuelan gang members involved in the spectacular 2014 robbery of the Goldfinger jewellery store on Rue de La République, Marigot, to 18 and 12 years in prison. A third gang member who initially escaped was arrested in 2017 in the Dominican Republic and is the subject of an extradition process, still in progress.
A haul of 115 stolen luxury watches varying in value from 10,000 to 30,000 euros each was recovered by Gendarmes.
The robbery on the morning of October 22, 2014, stood out from the normal quick smash, grab and escape robberies in that Gendarmes reacted quicker than the criminals anticipated thanks to a quick-thinking employee pressing a silent alarm as showcases were smashed.
It was also unusual that the suspects were dressed as businessmen without covering their faces. With their appearance not raising suspicion, they were let in through the automatic doors of the store.
Gendarmes were credited for their bravery under fire when they confronted the robbers inside the store. Moments later a dramatic shoot-out ensued in the streets witnessed by members of the public as the robbers attempted to escape with their loot. Two Gendarmes outside the store were injured by flying glass as a second Gendarme patrol converged on the scene.
As the three robbers made their escape on foot in the direction of West Indies Mall and Fort Louis with their bag of watches they took with them the store manager as hostage holding him at gun point, firing shots at the chasing Gendarmes. They decided to let the hostage go unharmed but then assaulted a driver sitting in his car, forcing him out of the vehicle before driving it towards Galis Bay.
However, a few hundred metres beyond the Yacht Club the escapees were met by another Gendarme patrol blocking their path. At some point they dropped the bag of watches. Two were arrested and the third robber escaped. In total 14 shots were fired in the shoot-out with Gendarmes; nine on the part of the robbers and five by the Gendarmes.
The ringleader Canquis Pestana was condemned to 18 years in prison, for attempted homicide of a Gendarme, taking a hostage to facilitate escape, robbery and damage to public property. The Prosecutor had requested 22 years. The second robber, Monsalve was sentenced to 12 years in prison for being an accomplice in the robbery. The Prosecutor demanded 16 years.
A local St. Martiner was found guilty by association for helping find accommodation and transport for the robbers. He was sentenced to three years in prison, two suspended. But because he had already served one year in prison, he was freed.