Spain’s Guardia Civil, working with Europol, have dismantled an organised criminal group responsible for the theft of high performance vehicles, arresting 26 people including five Bulgarians.
The operation, which began in October 2013, was coordinated by European police agency Europol.
Those arrested included 19 Spanish nationals and two Moroccans.
Twelve house searches were conducted, resulting in the seizure of 20 vehicles, weapons and electronic equipment and tools used for the vehicle thefts.
Europol said that the criminal network was made up of three distinctive cells: Bulgarian, Spanish and Moroccan.
The Bulgarian cell used complex electronic devices during the vehicle thefts to deactivate the vehicle alarm systems. The cell would then transfer the vehicles to a warehouse in Madrid and bring in an expert from Valencia to forge the vehicle identification numbers (VINs).
Once the vehicles were prepared with false licence plates, VINs and documents, the Bulgarian cell enlisted Spanish drivers to transfer the vehicles to Bulgaria or Melilla (Morocco), paying them 300 euro a trip. In Melilla, the Moroccan cell would receive the vehicles and sell them on, according to Europol.
(Photo: Graham Briggs/sxc.hu)