Customs and TradeNews

82 people arrested and 58 high-end vehicles recovered in a macro-operation against illicit vehicle trafficking

Agents of the Spanish National Police have arrested 82 people and recovered 58 high-end vehicles, in a macro-operation against illicit vehicle trafficking carried out in more than 20 provinces. They formed an organization strongly structured in six nuclei, each with its own structure but interrelated with each other, in Alicante, Almería, Jaén, Madrid, Murcia and Tarragona. They created companies throughout the country to contract renting or leasing services for vehicles that later, after falsifying the documentation, were destined for sale both in Spain and in different European countries. It is estimated that the fraud produced by the organization amounts to more than 10,000,000 euros and those arrested are accused, among other crimes, of belonging to a criminal organization, fraud, concealment of assets, false documents,

The investigation began in February last year when a person of Romanian nationality was detected at the Slovenian border on board a vehicle with a forged driving license, the car, owned by a Spanish rental company, had been registered ten days before in the town of Murcia and delivered in that city to the administrator of a company based in Barcelona.

Shortly after, another person tried to cross the same border with another vehicle with similar characteristics, also with falsified documentation, a fictitious sales contract and also owned by a Spanish rental company, which had also been registered days before and delivered to the town. from Murcia to the administrator of another company based in Almería.

In this way, two allegedly unrelated companies with headquarters in different capitals hired and received vehicles in Murcia that ended up crossing the Slovenian border with forged documentation. The agents also discovered that the two people who were driving the vehicles had entered Spain by plane days before with a one-way ticket and that it was not the first time they had done so.

Based on this information, the first arrests were made for the crimes of fraud and false documents, and an investigation was launched that has continuously allowed the identification and arrest throughout the national territory of all the members of the criminal organization. , dismantling up to six centers of illicit vehicle trafficking, each with its own structure but interrelated with each other, in Alicante, Madrid, Murcia, Jaén, Almería and Tarragona. 

They created companies to acquire vehicles by renting or leasing

The dynamics of this criminal organization consisted of the creation or use of companies dedicated to different activities and with offices spread throughout the national geography, to hire vehicle rental or leasing services, although it also used natural persons “mules” for these hires.

Once the vehicles were in the possession of the organization, the necessary documents were falsified, and through fictitious sales contracts they were transferred to European countries, where they were offered at low prices to other criminal networks who in turn sold them to bona fide buyers. The investigators detected that in some cases and following the same methodology, the vehicles were also sold within the national territory.

Getters and “mules” to put the vehicles in your name

The organization was strongly structured and made up of people who had different well-defined roles within it. Thus, there were the achievers, who through companies or in their own name obtained the vehicles to later transfer them to the organization. The intermediaries or dealers were in charge of selling or introducing the vehicles in the legal market, others carried out the necessary procedures and documentation to achieve the transfer of the automobiles. 

They also had “mules” who, in exchange for financial compensation, provided their identity to carry out the fraudulent change of ownership of the cars and with managers of establishments and sales businesses that carried out the transactions.

During the operation, 82 people of Spanish and Romanian nationality have been arrested in different provinces of the national territory – Alicante (33), Jaén (18), Madrid (11), Murcia (11), Almería (5), Hellín (2). , Castellón (1) and Zaragoza (1) – and searches have been carried out at homes, legal headquarters of companies and establishments dedicated to the sale of vehicles. In the operation, 58 high-end vehicles have been intervened, three tractor heads valued at more than 400,000 euros, more than 24,000 euros in cash, a multitude of documentation and tools necessary for counterfeiting.

In addition, the agents have detected another 50 passenger cars that are being investigated in case they could have been acquired with the same fraudulent procedure. The investigators observed that some of the passenger cars have “caches” in various compartments, so they are also investigating whether the organization could be related to drug trafficking.