Bullshit: No Airline Is Selling Manifests to Criminals

In light of the incredibly irresponsible post and later resharing of that post about the two British tourists attacked at gunpoint in Buenos Aires, I felt compelled to write this up to make things clear.

Yes, a British tourist, Matthew Gibbard, was gunned down when he resisted during an armed robbery right outside the Faena hotel in Buenos Aires a few days ago, along with his stepson who was injured but survived.

Are airline employees selling manifesto information to gang members? No. Absolutely not. There’s literally no information leading to that ludicrous assertion that one dude made during a British news channel interview. At least not in connection with this one incident. Or any of the previously reported incidents. Repeating such an assertion and throwing it out there as if it were pertinent to this one conversation is sensationalist and nonsensical.

Obelisk, from Buenos Aires Tourism

Obelisk, from Buenos Aires Tourism

What We Know

The guy who killed Gibbard, a 21 year old Venezuelan citizen who illegally entered Argentina only last week, was apprehended onboard a bus headed to Bolivia attempting to flee the country. He was identified thanks to the Buenos Aires police force following the motorcycle and two other vehicles used during this incident on CCTV feeds throughout the city. Authorities have also determined that he was a member of a gang of about ten criminals who targeted tourists visiting Buenos Aires to rob them of their property.

The way they operated was by placing a ‘spotter’ in the arrivals hall of Ezeiza International Airport who would wait for flights arriving from the United States and Europe pretending to wait for a passenger on said flights. They would choose their potential victims based on clothing, watches and other jewelry that they used as markers of wealth.

Once the victim was identified, they would put a tail on them as the tourists made their way into their hotels in Buenos Aires. Many times they were aided by the fact the foreigners were being picked up by a specific hotel’s shuttle, which would give their destination away. The criminals would then follow the travelers to the hotels and either strike right then and there (like in the case of Gibbard) or follow their movements in and out of the hotel waiting for an opportunity to act.

No information was provided by any airline employee, and there’s obviously also no need for that information. The idea alone is laughable. Anyone who’s ever been to Argentina (or even heard of it at all) knows there are very few locals who speak English, wear expensive Rolexes, carries lavish Louis Vuitton luggage, and stay at internationally renowned hotels like the Faena, InterContinental, Hilton, etc. Not many locals can afford the rates a hotel in Puerto Madero would cost. It is obviously understood that the majority of people coming in and out of those hotels are wealthy by local standards.

Is Argentina Safe?

Absolutely. Just as safe as any other large metropolitan city in the world. In fact, I would recommend anyone to go visit. While crime rates might be going up as an indicator that the country’s economy is and has been in decline, it by no means implies it is a country you shouldn’t visit. For reference, over 111,000 British citizens traveled to Argentina in 2018 without any incidents, as per the British Foreign Office.

Puerto Madero, from Buenos Aires Tourism

Puerto Madero, from Buenos Aires Tourism

As usual, though, one needs to exercise common sense and avoid traveling with expensive items, large sums of cash and any other valuable objects that may turn you into a target. Obviously, if you’re like me, you’ll also like to stay at nice hotels, and that puts us in a slightly riskier position as it might highlight our wealthier status compared to locals. There really isn’t any way to avoid this, which is why one needs to stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings, and this goes for Buenos Aires, Seattle, New York just as much as Paris, London and Madrid. Also, a quick reminder that nothing, absolutely nothing we carry with us is more valuable than our own lives, so if you are a victim or a robbery – particularly when abroad – never ever, EVER resist, lest you end up becoming a victim of extreme violence.

While I am extremely saddened by the passing of Mr Gibbard while visiting the city where I lived for eight years and I hold so dear and near to my heart, I am even more saddened by the irresponsible spread of misinformation that’s so commonplace to blow out of proportion.



Author: Ben Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. If you think that individual employees do NOT sell manifests, you are either naive or delusional. In countries like Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, EVERYTHING is for sale.

    Or do you also believe Bank employees do not sell account information either? or Maids info about their employers?

    But keep your blog classy.

    Post a Reply
    • Ken, if you think this is just something beyond a very few occurrences out of hundreds of thousands of airline employees, then you have been watching too much Fox News. The notion that ‘in countries like Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia’ this is commonplace is hilarious. As if crime and corruption didn’t happen in the US.

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  2. I go to Buenos Aires almost every year for around a month. First, always be careful of 2 people on a motorcycle. Especially if they stop ahead of you and one gets off and just stands around, cross the street, go into a shop or just turn around. Second, Don’t wear expensive anything if you’re going to be walking around. Third, go eat a big fat steak,they know how to make a steak.

    Post a Reply
    • All three very valid common sense reminders, Rye!

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  3. You’re saddened by his “passing”, aka his murder, and even more saddened by people saying the country is unsafe?? What a sick individual you are

    Post a Reply
    • I’m quite healthy, but thanks for your concern. He was indeed murdered, a fact I neither disputed nor concealed. What saddens me is people who report fake news implying airline employees are somehow selling passengers information when we know for a fact that never occurred, because the investigation has produced this info. What infuriates me is ignorant people like you who refuse to challenge their biases, to be honest, as it’s a relatively safe country for Western standards whether you want to accept that or not. Thanks!

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  4. trump drained the swamp…therefore corruption and crime only happens in foreign countries.

    Argentina needs more good guys with guns.

    Post a Reply
    • I’m choosing to read this with the most irony I can muster!

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  5. “While I am extremely saddened by the passing of Mr Gibbard while visiting the city where I lived for eight years and I hold so dear and near to my heart, I am even more saddened by the irresponsible spread of misinformation that’s so commonplace to blow out of proportion.”

    Wow. Just wow. Here you are admitting to the world that you are are more saddened by the spread of “misinformation” than you are about the actual murder of a human being. This is a new low, even for this blog.

    Post a Reply
    • Indeed I am, as I fervently believe that the spread of misinformation that breeds ignorant people left and right has a much further reach and hurts countless more people than the tragic murder of one individual. I’d suggest that you reconsider repeatedly visiting this blog if you keep coming back to find new lows.

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  6. I know very little of this story and fewer firsthand facts. But clearly the author knows Argentina better than those commenting. The illogic of not grasping that unfounded conspiracy theories that infect hundreds of thousands of feeble munds is worse than one murder is typical of Americans used to mass shootings almost daily. Send hopes and prayers, but change nothing and prevent research or information from being accurately disseminated. This is psychology 101: paint someone or somewhere else as “bad” and you feel better about your own situation. On the specific issue of an airline, or a rogue employee, selling its manifest it is patently absurd. Its illogic is many fold over. First that “wealthy westerners” arrived at an international airport helps criminals how? How do they know from a name how wealthy they are? Do you think criminal gangs do background searches on these names and then correlate it with hotel reservations lists and restaurant reservations to target people. If you think criminals are that advanced you don’t understand most cruminals who simply opportunistically prey on the fattest weakest target. Next what airline would jeopardize their revenue stream for a few minor bucks, or tolerate an employee doing so? Lastly what city or country wouldn’t fight this to keep tourism dollars flowing (not to mention the hotels and the rest of the tourism infrastructure). I live in a major US city and my next door neighbors were robbed last week, there are murders in our metro area daily, some people are criminals and just suck. Feeble minded fools trading in bizarre conspiracy theories on the internet, and idiots showing off their wealth around people struggling to get by both stink just as bad as the criminals. And trolls reading posts just to continually criticize are both pathetic and obvious.

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