An operation in Spain against the trafficking of stolen vehicles has led to the recovery of some 40 vehicles and 25 arrests, with the support of the INTERPOL Task Force on Stolen Motor Vehicles.
Operation Paso del Estrecho (meaning ‘crossing the straits’) was undertaken by the Spanish National Police from 21 July to 4 August at the ports of Algeciras and Tarifa in southern Spain.
These major gateways between Europe and Africa are also used by organized criminal networks to smuggle cars stolen from across Europe into North Africa.
With the assistance of INTERPOL’s Stolen Motor Vehicles (SMV) unit, police monitored car ferries leaving the ports for Morocco, with some 10,000 vehicles screened against INTERPOL’s SMV database.
With an estimated value of EUR 1 million, most of the 40 vehicles recovered during the operation were detected and seized only few days or weeks after theft had occurred.
Underlining the transnational dimension of stolen vehicle crime, during Operation Paso del Estrecho the INTERPOL task force coordinated the deployment of 30 experts from police and the private sector from Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden and the UK.
This annual initiative conducted by Spanish police to prevent stolen vehicles from leaving the country and to identify and disrupt the criminal groups responsible for the illicit trafficking was also supported by the INTERPOL Integrated Border Management Task Force (IBMTF).
Follow-up investigations initiated in connection to the arrests are being monitored and supported by INTERPOL’s SMV unit.
The INTERPOL SMV database contains almost 7 million records submitted by 127 member countries. In 2014, countries searched the database more than 120 million times, resulting in some 132,000 positive hits.