The agents of the Tax and Border Section (UDAIFF) of the Guardia Civil, as part of their activity in the Port of Almeria, recovered last April two heavy machines that had been stolen in Paris (France) in February, with the intention of exporting them to Morocco. Within the framework of the operation known as ‘Flintstone 23′, two people, men aged 50 and 37, have been investigated as alleged perpetrators of a crime of theft of a motor vehicle and forgery of documents.
The investigation was initiated thanks to information obtained in a previous operation in which two other machines of high economic value that had also been stolen in France were recovered in the Port of Almeria. The UDAIFF agents, at one of the usual checking points for people and vehicles at the Port of Almeria last April, after making a selection among all the cargo units pending export, suspected a large lorry (a gondola type semi-trailer with an enclosed cover), which could fit the data obtained in the investigation.
The officers’ suspicions were quickly confirmed when they realised that the lorry was carrying two practically new construction machines of high economic value. For this reason, the Guardia Civil initiated the necessary steps with the European police liaison officers with whom they work in close collaboration to solve crimes that cross the borders of the partner countries. Thanks to these checks and the cross-checking of the information already available to the agents, it was confirmed that the two machines were recorded as having been stolen in France.
The value of both machines, a loading shovel and a heavy excavator, amounts to approximately 230,000 euros on the second-hand market.
For these facts, two people have been investigated for the crimes of theft and false documentation. The operation is still open and the arrest or investigation of other persons who may be involved in a second phase of this operation is not ruled out.
The investigation has been very laborious due to the difficulty in identifying machines produced and sold in another country. Likewise, the successful outcome of this first phase of the operation has depended to a large extent on the high level of specialisation of the Guardia Civil agents working in the Port of Almeria, who, in addition to constantly updating their knowledge and refresher courses in tax protection matters, have developed the ability to intuit which vehicles may be being used to commit a crime.
The proceedings, together with those under investigation, have been handed over to the Duty Court of Almeria and the two recovered machines have been returned to their owners, who live in France.