THE suspected ringleader of a gang that used fake bomb vests to kidnap businessmen has been detained by Spanish police.

According to a police statement, the suspect was arrested after police stopped him during a routine road check in the Costa del Sol.

The man, of Algerian origin, escaped from a prison in Avignon, south-eastern France in October 2012, and has since been hiding out in Malaga.

Eight suspects have now been detained in Spain in connection with two separate incidents that took place in November 2012, while eight further arrests were made in France.

In the first kidnapping case, the group used a high-class prostitute to lure six Moroccan businessmen to a Paris hotel with the promise of lucrative contacts involving IT products.

The businessmen were then held captive until they handed over around €1 million in cash to the gang.

Shortly after the same group posed as the security team of an Arab prince and organised a gathering of 15 jewellers and watchmakers at an upmarket Luxembourg store.

The businessmen were under the premise that the prince’s boss wanted to make huge purchases, but instead they were held at gunpoint while the gang made off with €1.3 million in watches and jewellery and a further €1 million in cash.

“To prevent the businessmen from escaping, the kidnappers used fake bomb vests which they said were loaded with explosives which would go off if they left the premises,” the Spanish police statement said.

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