Law enforcement authorities in Spain, France and Chile, supported by Europol’s European Serious Organised Crime Centre, have closed in on a network of South American thieves who arrived in Europe as ‘tourists’ only to then carry out a string of burglaries in residential areas in France and Spain.
A total of four suspects – two Chileans, one Peruvian and one Argentinean – have been arrested in Spain, aged between 25 and 37.
The investigation began in May 2022 as a result of the cooperation between the Spanish Civil Guard and the French Paris Police Prefecture, facilitated by Europol. The group under investigation, after having carried out several burglaries in France, travelled to Madrid. They then committed a number of burglaries, before moving to Barcelona to try to do the same there. The same gang has been linked to previous robberies in Argentina, Brazil and Germany.
Three of them were caught red-handed and arrested on 7 July as they returned from burglaries in the province on Tarragona. The fourth suspect was arrested later on in the month of July. Due to the gravity of the offences the judge imprisoned the OCG.
A large quantity of jewellery, watches and computer and electronic material was recovered, believed to come from the robberies under investigation. In addition, tools and material to commit the robberies were seized, as well as the vehicle used to carry out the criminal activities.
Europol brought together the national investigators from the Spanish, French and Chilean sides to share expertise on burglaries and establish a joint strategy to dismantle this travelling gang of thieves.
Cooperation with the Chilean Police was central in bringing these perpetrators to justice, as the Chilean investigators helped their European counterparts solve and prevent robberies committed by this highly-mobile gang.
The investigation was carried out with the support from the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT OPC).
Participating law enforcement authorities
Spain: Civil Guard (Guardia Civil)
France: Paris Police Prefecture (Préfecture de Police de Paris -Brigade de Répression Du Banditisme)
Chile: Investigations Police of Chile (Policia de Investigaciones de Chile -JENACROF)
Europol: European Serious Organised Crime Centre