The Guardia Civil have dismantled a criminal organisation, arrested 15 people, and investigated others suspected of the theft of almost 58 tons of copper cable and other items. The arrests were made in the provinces of Badajoz, Cáceres, Cantabria, Ávila, Madrid, Albacete, Alicante, and Valencia.
Operation VALSORDO began at the beginning of this year. At that time, the Guardia Civil became aware that Millberry copper cable had been stolen from 2 Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTP) in the towns of Cebreros and El Tiemblo in the province of Ávila. After this discovery, they then learned that 2 more WWTPs in Ávila had also been robbed of copper cable. These were in Candeleda and Piedralaves.
Consequently, the investigation began. Initially they focused their attention on possible areas where the copper cable could be sold. This led them to scrapyards and metal waste management centres. Two illegal junkyards were identified. One in Cañada Real, and another in Fuenlabrada.
The junkyard in Cañada Real was found to be a clandestine outfit. It had not signage or advertising and was subsequently confirmed as not being registered with any competent body.
As a result of the ongoing investigations, the Guardia Civil located the car used to commit the robbery of the WWTP in the town of Cebreros. The vehicle was being used by an individual residing in La Cañada Real de Rivas-Vaciamadrid (Madrid).
Living beyond their means
Continuing with the investigations, they were also able to verify that this person had regular contact with ten other people. These people were living a life beyond their means. Moreover, none of them had an employment contract that could justify their high personal expenses.
Likewise, it was revealed that those involved made trips, as much as 2 and 3 times a week. They travelled to the provinces of Badajoz, Cáceres, Cantabria, Ávila, Madrid, Albacete, Toledo, Alicante, and Valencia. During these trips, they were able to remove copper cables from other WWTPs, Agrifood Companies and Industrial Estates.
Once the thefts were carried out, they hid the copper cable in the vicinity of the places where they stole them. This was so as not to raise suspicions in case they were identified in a routine police check. However, later, they returned to Madrid empty and depending on the amount of copper cable they had hidden, they rented one, or more vans to collect the stolen cable.
To do this, they used several measures, and planned numerous escape routes in the event they were discovered by the Security Forces and Bodies.
Using identities of dead people
Once transported, they sold it to the Cañada Real junkyard. After which, this junkyard moved the wiring to another located in Fuenlabrada. Furthermore, to give a legal appearance to the sales of the copper cable, they issued invoices using fiscal data of clients and former clients, without their knowledge or consent. On some occasions those clients were even no longer alive.
The police seized two vans, in Santa Amalia and Mérida (both Extremadura), which contained 8,000 kilograms of copper cable. This had previously been stolen in Almendralejo and Medellín. At this time, 6 people were arrested.
Subsequently, the Guardia Civil proceeded to inspect the La Cañada Real junkyard, taking advantage of the fact that a delivery was being made. They were then able to arrest and investigate the rest of the people involved.
During the operation, 5 vans were intervened (one from a robbery committed in Valencia), 36 kilograms of dried marijuana buds prepared for sale in vacuum bags, 20 packed boxes of unassembled bicycles, 3 microwaves, 195 items of clothing of a well-known brand, 5 motor vehicles, and other items. Furthermore, it was possible for the police to demonstrate the theft of 58 tons (19km) of copper cable. 12 tons have been recovered that are in court.
The seized bicycles and clothing came from other thefts committed against transport trucks at service stations on the Carretera de Andalucía and an industrial storage warehouse in Jaén. In addition, it was also possible for the police to demonstrate an involvement in drug trafficking.
The detainees are therefore charged with the alleged crimes of Robbery with Force, Illicit Association, Robbery and theft of Use of a Motor Vehicle, Falsification of Documents, against Public Health and Reception.
Desarticulada una organización delictiva dedicada a robar cable de cobre en parte del territorio nacional.
— Guardia Civil 🇪🇸 (@guardiacivil) October 6, 2022