Dramatic arrest of alleged Red Bull blackmailer

An Austrian who allegedly blackmailed Red Bull by threatening to put excrement in its energy drinks was behind bars Thursday after a sting operation straight out of the movies, police said. The 47-year-old man, who has not been named, thought he was meeting someone from Red Bull with a bag full of money late on Wednesday. Instead he was arrested by an armed police unit.

“This was no amateur,” local police chief Herrmann Rechberger told a news conference. “The money in the package was real and it was in a black bag, just as he had demanded. He gave instructions by phone and SMS.”

He said that the suspect kept changing the location for the handover: “It was very difficult for us to stay in contact with him. The operation began at 1:00 pm and the arrest wasn’t til 9.45 pm.”

“The operation was like something out a film,” said Salzburg police chief Franz Ruf.

Red Bull, built up from nothing to a global beverages behemoth by a former Austrian toothpaste executive, had revealed in March that someone was trying to blackmail it.

The firm “very quickly came to the conclusion that the threats were empty. We notified the police when it became clear that this was not another case of insane letters,” company executive Roland Concin said.

Philippines Daily Inquirer