Lorry theft and drugdealing racket busted
Arrests in Alaquàs and Gandía among the 27 detained throughout Spain
By Samantha Kett A COUNTRYWIDE criminal gang was behind the theft of nine HGV lorries and half a million euros' worth of goods between Madrid and the south coast, say National Police and the Guardia Civil.
After nearly a year of inquiries, all 27 members of the racket have been arrested after raids on properties across the mainland, including in the province of Valencia – in Alaquàs (L'Horta Oest) and Gandia (La Safor).
Others were caught in Lebrija (Sevilla province), Albacete, Madrid, and in the province of Cádiz, in Jerez de la Frontera and El Puerto de Santa María.
Detectives have been on their trail since a lorry was stolen in Carmona, Madrid at the end of last year, containing a cargo of 20,000 litres of olive oil for sale.
The vehicle was found empty on a nearby urbanisation several days later.
Near-identical cases were later reported, starting with a trailer pinched in Jerez with 540 gas barbecues in the back and a container destined for Pakistan containing 16,000 litres of olive oil in bottles bearing labels in English and Arabic.
Both lorries were found in Carmona, and some of the thieves – who sold the goods on the black market – were traced to the provinces of Madrid and Sevilla.
The first spate of arrests led to 17 people being taken into custody and three others, already in prison, being placed under investigation.
Officers seized various firearms, 117 mobile phones, tools, a frequency inhibitor, €28,500 in cash, a top-of-the-range vehicle, about a kilo of speed and 69 marijuana plants, as well as some of the as-yet unsold stolen merchandise.
Another three individuals were caught in the second phase and 34 mobile phones confiscated along with key-cutting tools, tasers, guns and bullets, and two more gang members were caught in the third and final operation.
Cash seized by National Police and Guardia Civil in the countrywide operation