National Police officers in Madrid have arrested 10 members of a gang of robbers who have been using the city's sewage system to access banks and commit robberies.
Those arrested are charged with seven robberies using violence and intimidation, in various banks in Madrid.
Investigations started after a series of robberies hit a Madrid bank branch and it was realized that the criminals had fled using the sewer system.
Similar robberies have happened over the years and agents managed to identify two people who could be related to the crimes. Upon questioning the suspects, they were able to identify other members of the group.
Upon discovering that they were planning a new assault on a bank in the Usera district of Madrid, they found that a sewer cover had been lifted on one of the public roads.
Observing that the robbers were making preparatory maneuvers to rob the bank, the police officers stood ready to arrest them. 50 minutes after the robbery, officers spotted four of the band members coming out of the basement and four others waiting outside.
Four of the members of the group were arrested as they came up to the street, after committing a robbery in which they seized more than 60,000 euros. At the time of the arrest, the robbers were carrying two pistols, a revolver, clamps and tape to immobilize victims, a crowbar, a sledgehammer and flashlights. The four members waiting on the street were also placed under arrest.
A further two group members were arrested later.
Among the major banks targeted in the last three years are BBVA, Santander, Bankia and La Caixa. The amounts they stole ranged from 25,000 to 275,000 euros, according to sources close to the investigation.
Reportedly after nearly 15 years of criminal activity, they knew every nook and cranny of the sewer system, and were able to pinpoint each bank branch.
All in the family
During the investigation, agents learned that the leader of the group was the son of a famous bank robber, who used the same method to perpetrate his robberies.
His father, Jesús Iglesias Carrascosas, was the original leader of the gang, and taught the the techniques and the layout of subterranean Madrid, as well as the tricks of the bank robbery trade, to his son.
The new leader's name was Carlos Iglesias and after his father and teacher passed away in 2008, he rose to the top of a criminal group known as "the sewer gang."
Police inspector Dionisio Martín explained to El País:
"He showed [his son] how to stage his raids through the sewers, and he learned the art of attacking banks from underground."
Martín went on to explain that Iglesias had something of an egocentric character. When committing robberies he shouted to bank employees that he was "the leader of this gang," or describing himself as the "Robin Hood of Vallecas," which was in reference to a Madrid neighborhood.
However, despite his nickname, police were unable to find any evidence that the crooks had ever shared their ill-gotten gains with the poor.
Speaking of the sewer system, Martín explained:
"They knew that if there were rats down there, there was life."
"They could tell which were the areas underground where they couldn't breathe," he added.
Apparently the rest of the gang was also trained by Jesús Iglesias together with another veteran thief, who is now aged 71 and is still yet to be located by police.
So now, at the age of 30, Iglesias' criminal career has been cut short along with his criminal group of friends.
Iglesias apparently had a regular job with a fishmonger in Madrid, and no previous criminal record.
Members of Spain's National Police arrest members of "The Sewer Gang" who have been robbing banks in Madrid using the drainage system.