THE POLICE have arrested 11 members of a gang that extorted users of sex websites.

Calling themselves ‘The Messi of Work’ (‘Messi del Work’) the organisation was broken up when three people were detained in Jaen and the rest in Valencia. 

The gang’s modus operandi was to extort and blackmail users of websites dedicated to finding sex and other sexual content. They threatened their victims with guns and their ‘pet’ crocodile. 

Their victims came from across Spain.

The two year operation, codenamed ‘Girasol’ (Sunflower), was the successor to a previous operation called ‘Mijail’ which resulted in the arrest of 57 suspects, who used the same methods as ‘The Messi of Work’.

Crocodile
Speckled Caiman (Caiman Crocodilus)

The ‘Work’

The gang’s method was to save the phone numbers and personal details of the sex website users. Later, the gang would send threatening messages to the users claiming to be the owners of the establishments from which the users had booked sexual appointments.

The gang’s messages claimed that their victim had missed the appointment and must compensate the owner for their time. 

These messages would consist of intimidating photos and videos, in which the members often flaunted firearms and dangerous animals as scare tactics. 

Police report that the gang’s cash demands ranged from €100 to €80,000.

05 07 Photo
The confiscated items from the police raid

The ringleader

The ringleader of ‘The Messi of Work’ became an online ‘personality’ through controversial social media posts. He would often share videos driving extremely fast, using firearms and boasting that he made €50,000 a month.

Indeed, he identified the group by publicly naming it and using his English catchphrase ‘I am a criminal’.  

The arrests

Due to the ringleader’s social media posts the Policia Nacional and the Special Operations Group arrested three gang members in the Jaen countryside and eight in Valencia who were trying to flee Spain. 

During the arrests and searches the police also found 500 grams of marihuana and a baby crocodile in the gang members’ possessions. 

The charges against them included extortion, participation in the activities of an organised crime group, drug trafficking, and animal cruelty.

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