A RUSSIAN MAN suspected of masterminding a multi-million-euro international car smuggling ring has been arrested in Italy.
Interpol says that the man was arrested following a coordinated investigation into car thefts since 2009 worth €6m and involved authorities in 14 EU member states.
The inquiry centred on the theft of over 30 luxury cars from across Europe for trafficking to south-east Asia, Russia and Australia. Most of the vehicles were stolen from car rental companies in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland, according to Interpol, and the brands involved include Ferrari, Porsche, Bentley and Lamborghini.
Some of the luxury cars recovered in the Interpol-coordinated operation. (Image: Interpol)
The investigation was launched after police received information that four sports cars stolen in Spain were going to be smuggled into Marseilles, France in early 2011. Under Interpol’s coordinated operation, the ship was redirected to Naples and the vehicles were recovered.
Meanwhile, a suitcase filled with equipment for forging documents was seized by Swiss authority at a train station in Geneva.
The investigation led to the arrest of a member of the gang behind the smuggling operation in Latvia in December 2011.
Interpol says that the Russian national, 36, arrested at Venice airport in Italy is suspected of masterminding the smuggling ring and that information in his possession suggests the group was planning to carry out further smuggling.
“The name of the Russian national is not yet being released as investigations continue,” Bernd Rossback, director of Interpol’s specialised crime unit said in a statement today.
“The success of Operation Eastbound was in bringing together the involved member countries, enabling them to share crucial investigative material and provide a platform for coordinated action which ultimately led to the organized crime network behind the theft and trafficking of millions of euros worth of cars being dismantled and the arrest of the suspected leader.”