The Guardia Civil and the French National Police, in collaboration with EUROPOL, have arrested three people dedicated to robbing luxury hotel complexes. This group is suspected of committing at least 12 robberies in Spain and France, taking goods worth 4.5 million euro. In our country, five robberies committed in Chiclana de la Frontera (Cádiz) have been clarified and one of the three perpetrators has been arrested.
In the police action carried out in Spain, hidden in a secret compartment, officers located two bags with stolen effects worth more than 750,000 euro. Thanks to this arrest, the leader of the organisation was identified, who operated under nine different identities throughout European territory.
The operation called “Ébano Azul” began in August of last year, when the agents learned of several robberies that had occurred inside some apartments located in a luxury hotel complex in Chiclana.
After the first steps taken, it became clear that the authors had a special skill in opening security safes. The investigated group monitored the establishment they planned to attack and after verifying the absence of guests inside the chosen accommodation, they entered it, without drawing the attention of the rest of the users, using a false key or by the “slip” method”. Once inside, they opened the safe, removing all valuables and cash inside, making their escape with the same discretion with which they had entered.
The Guardia Civils carried out a meticulous task of collecting samples and testimonies at the different scenes of the robberies. The investigation focused on an international and itinerant criminal group, which had its base in the south of Spain, specifically in the Malaga town of Marbella.
After the first phase of the investigation, one of its members, a French national, was arrested and searched at the controlled address, a luxury villa where it appeared to be a high-net-worth family that was on vacation. During the search, false identity documents and mobile phones were located and all of the effects stolen from the Chiclana apartments were recovered. In addition, part of the loot from previous robberies was recovered, among which were luxury watches.
The documentation and evidence obtained at the Marbella home allowed the full identification of the leader of the group, being an Algerian citizen, with legal residence in France, who used up to nine false identities from countries such as Belgium, Germany, France and Spain, where there were antecedents for similar events, with different identities in some of them, without being aware that it was the same subject.
Upon becoming aware that the investigated group would be made up of people of Spanish and French nationality, who had most certainly committed robberies in other parts of Spain and surrounding countries, police and judicial collaboration from the European authorities was requested. A joint investigation was initiated between the authorities of Spain and France, with EUROPOL as the channelling agency for all the information.
As a result of this collaboration, the other two members of the group were arrested when they had just committed a new robbery in a luxury hotel very close to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. The detainees were a Spanish citizen residing in the province of Malaga and the citizen of Algerian origin, residing in France, who was the leader of the group. Their loot on that occasion was jewellery, silver objects and luxury bags, all valued at 450,000 euro, all of which were recovered during the arrest and returned to their rightful owners. Furthermore, in French territory they are linked to robberies committed in Cannes worth half a million euro and in Paris itself worth one million, always using the same modus operandi. In total, at least twelve thefts with a total value of effects of 4.5 million euro are attributed to them.
After the judicial hearing corresponding to the French part of the operation was held in the district of Paris, the imprisonment of the two detainees in that city was ordered, pending their extradition to Spain to answer for the crimes committed here.
Operation “Ébano Azul” has been carried out jointly by the Organic Unit of the Judicial Police of the Guardia Civil of Cádiz and by the Banditism Repression Brigade of the district of Paris, being supervised at the judicial level in Spain by the Court of Instruction No. 2 of those of Chiclana.