French police arrested 13 people following an investigation into “the large-scale theft and trafficking” of cars from Europe to West Africa.
More than 170 vehicles were “stolen on demand” by car thieves in France following “orders” placed by the scheme’s “coordinators,” according to a Sept. 20 news release from France’s National Judicial Police via INTERPOL.
The stolen cars were driven across Europe — “often by minors” — to ports in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, police said. From the ports, officials said vehicles were hidden “in cargo containers and shipped to West Africa.”
The group behind the scheme included “French, Gambian and Senegalese nationals,” police said.
Officials raided several locations across France on Sept. 12 to arrest 13 suspects, the release said. Police said the suspects included “thieves, logisticians and the two main ‘coordinators’ in France.”
Police confiscated cell phones, “car-theft equipment including illicit on-board diagnostic (OBD) port software, vehicle registration documents and cash,” the release said. Using the confiscated phones, police were able to locate and intercept nine stolen cars being shipped from Le Havre, France, and Las Palmas, Spain.
The two-year investigation involved INTERPOL, Europol, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, according to the release.