Chilean police surprised a man who was transporting in a refrigerated truck 5,200 kilograms (11,453 pounds) of ice that had removed from the Jorge Montt glacier, the cargo apparently destined for bars and restaurants here in the capital.
"It's the first time that a situation with these characteristics has been reported," the chief prosecutor in the southern region of Aysen, Jose Moris, told Efe on Tuesday.
Last Friday, rangers noticed the man transporting the ice from the glacier located in Bernardo O'Higgins National Park, the provincial chief of the Conaf forest service, Piero Caviglio, told Efe.
The glacier can only be accessed by water after a four-hour trip from Caleta Tortel, a remove village linked to the town of Cochrane by 128 kilometers (79 miles) of dirt road.
Upon being informed that the ice had been loaded into a truck in Caleta Tortel, police from Cochrane, 2,040 kilometers (1,265 miles) south of Santiago, set up a roadblock outside that town to enable them to stop and examine the vehicle, where they found the stolen ice.
A police spokesman told Efe that the cargo was contained in large plastic sacks.
Apparently, a Santiago company had hired the driver to transport the ice on the long journey to the capital.
Therefore, prosecutors have already asked the police to interview the legal representatives of that firm, Moris said, although he refused to provide the name of the company.
Authorities also identified six other people who allegedly went to the face of the glacier in three boats to chip off the ice.
Moris said that given the normal price of ice, the cargo of glacier ice had a value of 3.5 million pesos ($7,000), although it is presumed that the going rate for 1,000-year-old ice from a glacier could be double the normal price.
While authorities are investigating the matter, the glacier ice, rather than cooling drinks in the capital, will now be dumped into the pools of a farmers association in Cochrane, which will use it to irrigate local crops that are being affected by the drought that prevails in parts of Chile.