By Damon Mitchell • 06 February 2020 • 17:08
THE National Police have dismantled an organisation who specialised in vehicle theft. They are alleged to have stolen 80 vehicles which were then modified for shipment to North Africa. A total of 20 have been arrested, eleven in Alicante and nine in France. The organization was made up of highly skilled members who acted in a structured and hierarchical way. There were people stealing cars, mechanics, drivers and administrative managers.
Investigators discovered that this group were focusing specifically on vehicles in a particular French car group and preferred commercial vehicles, but also other types of cars. They have been operating for years. Its members, of Arab descent and of French and Algerian nationality, shared the tasks, and their gang leaders lived in Alicante and Figueres.
To steal vehicles, they broke one of the windows and manipulated the lock and start system using electronic devices and very advanced computer equipment. They were not scared to use violence if needed and had robbed at gunpoint on one occasion.
The vehicle was then moved to a secret location where it was parked for a reasonable amount of time. During that the documentation and identification elements pertaining to the car would be forged. They had informers who had access to Spanish and French traffic databases, as well as manipulation and forgery experts.
Drivers then took care of boarding directly or through vehicle containers to cities in North Africa. They used the ports of Alicante, Valencia, Marseille and Lyon.
One of the heads of the group had a business of buying and selling cars in Alicante, which they used as a front and enabled him to launder the profits.
As the investigation progressed, a joint police device with Spanish and French police detained 18 people, 9 in each state, including the band’s leaders.
The detainees are credited with stealing more than 80 vehicles. 12 were recovered. In a final phase of the investigation, which took place last week in Alicante, the National Police detained two more people. The detainees are of French, Algerian and Spanish nationality and are between 36 and 48 years old. They are charged with felony robbery, forgery, money laundering and criminal membership.
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