Spanish police smash olive theft network

OlivesAn organised criminal group involved in the theft and fencing of olives has been taken down by Spain's Guardia Civil.

A Freightwatch intelligence report says the group - operating in Castile-La Mancha and Andalusia - was smashed by police after two separate operations which targeted two theft groups and three companies which purchased the stolen olives and inveigled them back into the supply chain.

The criminals would block access to olive-producing farms with smaller vehicles whilst using heavy-duty machinery to steal several hundred tonnes of olives, causing significant damage to the trees. All told, the Guardia Civil made 23 arrests and seized several hundred thousand euros-worth of stolen products.

The scale of the theft problem is being driven by rising prices for olives, which can fetch as much as €4 per kilo and has been inflated by recent poor harvests.

"Food and drinks theft is a serious issue in Spain due to the high number of designated origin products and much-valued national produce," says Freightwatch.

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