Nine members of a criminal gang connected to the Italian mafia have been arrested in La Safor district (Valencia Province). They were apprehended for allegedly conning Valencian farmers out of 5,000 tons of citrus fruit.
The suspects are accused of a wide range of crimes including belonging to a criminal organization, money laundering, document forgery and fraud in several Spanish regions. According to investigators, the group was connected to the Calabrese mafia, operating through 18 front companies, posing as middlemen for agricultural and food products.
One of their main tricks was reportedly to agree prices with orange and lemon producers in Valencia and Castellon, taking the product but paying with cheques that bounced. This practice is said to have netted the suspects more than €2 million through the 'theft' of 5,000 tons of fruit.
Five of the suspects were caught while visiting two banks in Xeraco and Tavernes de la Valldigna (La Safor), where they had just been granted two loans of more than €300,000 which they did not intend to pay back. The remaining four were seized in a house in Daimus and a warehouse in Palma de Gandia.