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19 October 2010

Illegal immigration and fraud suspects arrested in INTERPOL operation targeting stolen vehicles

A three-day INTERPOL co-ordinated operation to identify stolen vehicles has resulted in a series of arrests for a range of offences including illegal immigration, possession of false documents and suspected credit card fraud.

Operating under the umbrella of INTERPOL’s taskforce on Stolen Motor Vehicles (SMV), more than 700 vehicles were checked as part of Operation Leo which took place in Bavaria, Germany and also led to the identification and seizure of two high-value cars, in addition to the discovery of five boat engines which had been stolen in France.

Key arrests included an Icelandic national for illegal immigration as he was transferring four Afghan illegal immigrants who were also taken into custody, a Polish man for possession of counterfeit currency and four Romanian nationals for possession of ‘skimmed’ credit cards.

Criminal Intelligence Officers Renato Schipani and Jörn Seifert, members of INTERPOL’s SMV taskforce based at its General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France which co-ordinated the operation, said the results had been impressive.

“This operation shows that often when one crime has been committed, such as car theft, those responsible are also involved in other forms of criminality,” said Renato Schipani.

“Performing on-the-spot checks against INTERPOL’s global databases, not just for stolen motor vehicles, also enabled front-line officers to identify individuals wanted for other serious crimes and represents a significant resource and help in ensuring public safety and security,” added Jörn Seifert.

Leo was the fourth SMV taskforce operation carried out in the past 18 months, resulting in the recovery of 60 high-value stolen cars and 40 arrests. Taskforce members include experts from Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Europol.

INTERPOL’s Stolen Motor Vehicle database currently contains more than seven million entries from 129 countries, and checks carried out in 2010 alone have already resulted in more than 26,000 hits across the globe.