GUARDIA Civil have arrested a group of graffiti artists in Spain who are suspected of being involved in paint attacks that have caused €6 million worth of damage to trains across Europe.
Investigators carried out a pioneering operation that compared graffiti ‘tags’ or signatures across borders to try to identify the culprits of a spate of vandalism on European railways.
The operation has resulted in four detainees in Spain, while in one search about 3 kilos of marihuana and hashish tablets were seized. Police believe the alleged culprits may have been drug dealing to finance their activities.
The Euro Weekly News has been told that officers believe the group could be linked to spray-paint vandalism of 2,000 train carriages both in Spain (Cantabria, Asturias, Burgos, Basque Country, Valencia, Madrid, Balearic Islands) and in other European countries (Italy, Germany, Romania, Portugal, Holland, France and Sweden).
It is estimated that the economic damage to companies and the public treasury will exceed €6,000,000.
Three men and one woman aged between 26 and 28 have been arrested, two in Burgos, another in Bizkaia and the fourth in Toledo.
Police say the men would paint the graffiti, while the woman organised trips and took photos of the graffiti.
The investigations began at the end of June when three men painted graffiti consisting of signatures or “tags” on wagons of the Transcantábrico train in the station of Unquera (Cantabria).
From video images obtained police were able to identify three suspects, two of them residents of Burgos and Bizkaia who had known each other for years and who had been arrested together for carrying out graffiti previously.
Subsequently, the Guardia Civil was able to establish connections between the four detainees, such as them having taken trips together, both in Spain and abroad, as well as placing them close to incidents of graffiti vandalism.
Suspecting that the alleged perpetrators of the attack on the Transcantábirco train may have been responsible for more instances of vandalism
For this reason, a photograph with one of the “tags” was made available to the Graphics Department of the Guardia Civil’s Criminalistics Service, as well as photographs of other graffiti found on trains in Cantabria in 2018 and 2019, with the same tag.
The department carried out a study which concluded that the author of the tag was the same person in all the images provided, attributing 17 graffiti on trains in Cantabria to him.
A search on the home of the arrested woman in Burgos found more than 2,000 photos of train graffiti, many with the same tag.
Sketches were also found, both with the current tag being used and of other signatures he allegedly uses.
Paint stained clothes and paint spray cans were also found.
At the time of the initial arrests, two of those later detained were in Copenhagen (Denmark), where it is suspected they may have been indulging in graffiti attacks.
The investigation continues to see how many of the European acts of vandalism can be attributed to the suspects.