ALGECIRAS, Spain - An operation targeting the trafficking of stolen vehicles in Spain has led to the recovery of nearly 20 cars in nine days.
Led by the Spanish National Police and supported by INTERPOL’s Task Force on Stolen Motor Vehicles (SMV), Operation Paso del Estrecho (which means ‘crossing the straits’) was carried out from 28 July to 5 August.
Identified as a key route used by organized criminal networks smuggling cars from Europe into Northern Africa, some 3,000 vehicles were screened against INTERPOL’s Stolen Motor Vehicle database at the ports of Algeciras and Tarifa in southern Spain.
A range of brands were among the cars recovered, including Audi, BMW, Citroen, Mercedes, Renault and Volkswagen, which had been reported stolen from Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.
With the Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) removed from the cars, on the ground assistance from 20 experts belonging to the INTERPOL Task Force from Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden enabled direct checks to be made with the manufacturers to identify their origin.
In addition to the stolen vehicles, three cars were also impounded after the accompanying documentation was found to be false.
Operation Paso del Estrecho is an annual initiative conducted by Spanish police and supported by INTERPOL to prevent stolen vehicles from leaving the country and to help identify the criminal networks behind the illicit trafficking.
Follow-up investigations initiated in connection with the arrests are now underway, with continued support from INTERPOL’s SMV Task Force.
The INTERPOL SMV database contains some 7.2 million records from 127 countries. In 2015 the SMV database was searched nearly 150 million times, resulting in more than 120,000 positive hits.