Suspected members of a criminal gang that made videos showing other crooks how to bomb cash machines have been arrested after one alleged member blew himself up while filming a tutorial.
Dutch and German police arrested nine suspects during an 18-month investigation into the gang, which has been linked to at least 15 ATM attacks in Germany, costing millions of euros in damage.
One suspect was killed and another seriously injured during one of the test runs for an explosion, EU police agency Europol said.
Police in the German city of Onsabrueck became suspicious when a 29-year-old Dutch man there ordered several ATMs, claiming they were for an art project in the Netherlands.
But they were delivered to a warehouse serving as a makeshift training centre in the Dutch city of Utrecht, where the man and an accomplice tested ways of blowing them up to get at the cash inside, according to Europol.
They also recorded video footage of their efforts, the agency said.
“The pair was ordering different models of ATMs and recording tutorials on how to most effectively blow them up,” Europol added.
The 29-year-old was killed in September 2020 while testing an explosive device at the training centre, while his 24-year-old accomplice was injured and arrested.
Dutch police arrested three suspects on Tuesday and raided seven properties, where they found equipment used for blowing up ATMs.
The other six people had been arrested in the Netherlands over the last year.
The three suspects arrested earlier this week are expected to be sent to Germany to face prosecution.
Some 414 ATMs were blown up across Germany last year, an increase of 19% compared to the previous year.
German authorities believe around two-thirds of the suspects come from the Netherlands after heightened security measures imposed by German banks caused criminal activity to shift to Germany.
“The cross-border investigation worked brilliantly,” Osnabrueck police chief Michael Massmann said.
“This is a big blow against the international scene that’s blowing up ATMs and their criminal activities.”
“Thanks to our investigation, we managed to get at the people involved in the organisation and logistics for the first time,” he added. “We’re going to stay on the case and not let up.”
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