MADRID – Two Romanian clans force children to rob elderly victims at ATMs in Madrid. They stood near the cashlines and waited.
In most cases, the victims were elderly, and when they went to get the money, the Romanians acted. They used two methods. Either they distracted the victims when they were withdrawing cash by using some object, or they used violence. In some cases, the elderly were beaten to the ground.
The children, often under 14 years of age are used by their parents. Coming from Romania to Spain, they are looking for a better life, but if it has not worked out, the children are not in school, and they end up turning to crime.
Following an investigation, the Policia Nacional tracked them down. The investigations resulted in the dismantling of a criminal network operating in different areas in Madrid. So far, 26 Romanian adults have been arrested and charged with crimes of human trafficking and criminal exploitation. Also, for belonging to a criminal organisation and crimes against family rights and duties.
37 children under protection
Furthermore, a total of 37 children have now been placed under protection for being unimpeachable. Those arrested also had previous criminal records. Many of them for crimes against poverty, robbery, and theft. But also, for exhibitionism and sexual provocation, usurpation of identity, and for child sexual exploitation. Additionally, a large number had requisitions from abroad.
Ten months ago
The investigation began last December when agents detected an increase in complaints of robberies and thefts at ATMs of elderly people throughout Madrid. They then discovered a common pattern. From there, it did not take long to find out there was an organised group of various families that used and exploited minors, in many cases their own children, to commit these crimes.
It worked like a pyramid. At the top were the parents of the two families in charge. Next down the line were the patriarchs of other families who acted as intermediaries between the top and the lower levels. The children were taken by them to the various ATMs. They were rotated to different cashlines in case they were recognised.
However, arrests were carried out on October 13 in Getafe and Fuenlabrada. Five homes were searched and almost €10,000 in cash was seized along with several high-end watches, mobile phones, and various documentation. This is currently being analysed by investigators.
As a result of the robberies, more than 200 assaults were made on the elderly.