SIX men have been arrested suspected of belonging to a criminal group and stealing more than 26,500 kilograms of fruit and veg from farms in Malaga, Granada and Almeria provinces.
The arrestees, three Spaniards and three Romanians, are believed to have been involved in at least 24 thefts of avocados, mangos, peppers, aubergines, courgettes and custard apples.
The National Police began investigations in November 2016 after catching seven people stealing 2,401 kilos of avocados from a farm in Velez-Malaga. Suspecting that the thieves may form part of a criminal group as it was unlikely they would be able to sell such a large amount of loot on their own, officers started looking into similar crimes.
This led to the discovery of a similar investigation being carried out by the Guardia Civil’s ROCA rural crime branch in Motril and the two forces agreed to join forces.
Investigations eventually led to Almeria, where a criminal group was found to organise thefts of large amounts of fruit, mainly mangos and avocados, from farms along the Andalucian coast.
The main suspect is a businessman who made the most of his profession as a wholesaler to box up and sell the stolen fruit and veg, usually mixed with legal produce of lower quality.
Coincidentally, officers discovered a pending arrest order for theft issued by an Alicante court for one of the arrestees, the son of the main suspect.