Guardia Civil dismantles high-end car theft ring: 21 arrested and millions in assets seized

by Lorraine Williamson
car theft

In a significant crackdown on organised crime, the Guardia Civil has successfully dismantled a criminal network involved in the international trafficking of vehicles and the laundering of profits through cryptocurrencies.

Codenamed “Operation Vallota,” the operation has resulted in the arrest of 21 individuals on charges including organised crime, international vehicle trafficking, money laundering, fraud, document forgery, illegal possession of weapons, damage offenses, identity theft, car theft, and receiving stolen property.

High-end car theft

The operation, which began in 2022 following multiple reports of high-end car thefts in Las Rozas, has uncovered a sophisticated criminal enterprise spanning several countries. The stolen vehicles, primarily luxury cars equipped with advanced anti-theft systems, were taken from both Sweden and Spain. The criminals then “disguised” the vehicles in Spain by altering license plates and documentation before shipping them to France and ultimately to Mauritania or directly to Romania.

What sets this criminal organisation apart is its use of cutting-edge electronic devices for theft, raising suspicions among investigators about its high level of specialisation. The thieves employed sophisticated technology to override security systems and gain control of the vehicles within seconds of them being parked.

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A series of coordinated raids conducted by law enforcement authorities targeted multiple locations across Madrid, as well as in Villaviciosa de Odón and several towns in the Toledo province. These raids led to the seizure of 64 high-value vehicles worth over €4 million, along with a plethora of electronic devices used to bypass security systems, amounting to over €700,000. Additionally, authorities seized firearms, including a rifle, two modified starter pistols capable of firing live ammunition, and a taser pistol, from the residence of the organisation’s leader.

The arrests encompassed 18 men and 3 women of various nationalities, all suspected of involvement in the criminal activities associated with the organisation. Charges range from membership in an organised criminal group to money laundering, fraud, weapons offenses, and more.

The success of Operation Vallota was made possible through close collaboration between the Spanish Guardia Civil, the Madrid Traffic Sector, and international partners such as EUROPOL, the Romanian Police, the French National Gendarmerie, and their respective interior agencies.

The operation’s outcome not only disrupts a sophisticated criminal network but also sends a clear message that law enforcement agencies are resolute in their efforts to combat illicit activities, safeguarding communities and preserving the integrity of the legal system.

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