How a gang posing as famous footballers rented luxury homes in Spain’s tourist hotspots before staging violent robberies

How a gang posing as famous footballers rented luxury homes in Spain's tourist hotspots before staging violent robberies
Guardia Civil image

A VIOLENT robbery gang that rented homes in Spain posing as famous footballers has been arrested by the Guardia Civil.

Operation ‘Neckars’ led to the detention of 16 people- 11 men and five women aged between 25 and 67- of Albanian, Macedonian, Romanian, Chinese and Spanish nationalities.

Charges against them include robbery with violence, kidnapping, causing injury and extortion.

They lived in up-market rented accommodation in Ibiza, Arganda del Rey (Madrid), Burriana (Castellon) and Mislata (Valencia) and told landlords they were professional footballers to maintain their cover.

The gang kept their distance from themselves once they moved to new areas and only met to plan and execute their next crime.

They were rounded up after a violent robbery in Betera, Valencia province when they attacked a family with blunt objects.

After threatening the children with killing their parents if they did not cooperate, the criminals seized jewellery, watches and other items worth €175,000.

The victims provided vital details about their assailants and described them as very aggressive individuals from Eastern Europe, who wore dark clothing and carried walkie-talkies and various tools.

Thanks to a partial number plate identification and description of their getaway car, officers found the vehicle outside a house in El Puig, north of Valencia City.

After searching the house, the Guardia Civil recovered a partial fingerprint of an Albanian man who committed numerous violent robberies in his home country and Spain.

According to Interpol, the individual had an outstanding arrest warrant for 12 robberies with a firearm in Albania.

Three other members of the crew were arrested and imprisoned, as the Guardia discovered that two Chinese brothers and businessmen had master-minded the Betera robbery.

They were arrested at their homes, and one of them sent to prison.

It was discovered they had expert paramilitary knowledge and intricately planned the robbery.

After searching eight addresses, the Guardia Civil seized a total of €126,000 in cash, five high-end vehicles, jewellery, a gold bar, frequency jammers, balaclavas, firearms, a large number of bladed weapons, walkie-talkies, surveillance cameras, and tools to break into houses.

Operation ‘Neckars’ is still active with the Guardia cooperating with Albanian authorities.

It’s not been disclosed how many robberies the gang are said to have committed in Spain.

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