The Civil Guard said on Thursday that the men, aged 24 and 37, reportedly dressed up as police officers, used false license plates on their cars and pretended to conduct traffic stops along roadways in the Costa Blanca region of Alicante.
“They selected foreign drivers who did not know the uniforms or the modus operandi of the Spanish police,” the Alicante Civil Guard told The Local in a statement on Friday.
— Ministerio Interior (@interiorgob) August 27, 2015
The men are accused of theft, misappropriation of power, falsification of documents and belonging to a criminal organization.
Authorities received reports in March of this year that there was an organized group pretending to be police to take advantage of tourists and spent months tracking them down.
In some cases, the fake officers would flag down cars while they were driving and motion for them to pull over. Once the driver had moved to the side of the road, the suspects, reportedly dressed in police vests and sunglasses, would approach the car and flash their fake police badges.
The men would tell the driver that they were performing routine documentation and drug checks. At this point, they would then grab for anything of value within reach, including wallets, handbags or rucksacks.
In other cases, the suspects would go to service stations on motorways, wait for cars to arrive and then ask the passengers if they were tourists and whether they had consumed intoxicating substances. They would use force against anyone who tried to resist.
Earlier this year, another man posing as a police officer was caught in Valencia, using a photo of Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody on his falsified Civil Guard ID.