Spain smashes another fake police ring that robbed tourists

Spanish police said Wednesday they had smashed a criminal gang of Iranians and Pakistanis who preyed on tourists in Barcelona by posing as police, just days after dismantling a similar ring in Madrid.

Spain smashes another fake police ring that robbed tourists
Photo: Policia Nacional

The gang would stop tourists near hotels and Barcelona's airport and ask to see identification or perform searches and would then grab cash, watches, smartphones and other valuables and quickly flee, Catalonia's regional police force said in a statement.

The ring also stopped cars with foreign licence plates on highways near Barcelona and then robbed the occupants of the vehicles said the force, the Mossos d'Esquadra.

Police arrested eight suspected members of the ring, all Iranian and Pakistani nationals, last week in Badalona, a Barcelona suburb, and Valencia.   

The suspects – six men, a woman and a minor – are believed to have taken part in 40 robberies.

Among the loot recovered during the arrests were several luxury watches, 5,000 euros in cash and a “huge amount” of electronic devices.   

“The hoax they carried out could only be carried out on foreigners because anyone who lives here would understand they were not police officers from the way they behaved,” Mossos d'Esquadra inspector Jordi Olle told a news conference.

Catalan police said members of the criminal gang travelled across Spain and had also operated in Madrid and Valencia.   

Spain's national police said Monday they had smashed a criminal gang which preyed on tourists in Madrid in the same way, with the arrest last month of nine suspects, all Pakistani and Iranian nationals. That gang is suspected of carrying out at least 21 robberies.

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Spain’s Civil Guard police officers allowed to have visible tattoos

Spain on Monday relaxed its policy banning officers from the country's oldest police force, the Guardia Civil, from exhibiting tattoos.

civil guard spain gun
The increasing popularity of tattoos has led police forces around the world to regulate their use. Photo: Rafa Rivas/AFP

Officers will now be allowed to display tattoos anywhere on their bodies “as long as they do not contain expressions that violate constitutional values or harm the discipline or image of the force,” the interior minister said in a statement.

“For the first time visible tattoos will be allowed on uniformed officers,” it added.

On the other hand, the decree prohibits hoop earrings, spikes, plugs and other inserts when they are visible in uniform, “except regular earrings, for both male and female personnel”.

The Guardia Civil mainly patrols and investigates crimes in rural areas, while Spain’s National Police focuses on urban areas.

Last year Spain’s leftist government appointed a woman to head the force for the first time in its 177-year history.

The increasing popularity of tattoos has led police forces around the world to regulate their use.

Los Angeles police are required to ensure that tattoos are not visible to the public while on-duty, while France’s Gendarmes police force also requires that they be covered.