Police in Spain make arrest in ‘love scam’ murder of senior siblings

Spanish police said Monday they had arrested a Pakistani man in connection with the killing of three siblings in their 70s, over debts reportedly linked to an online romance scam.

Police in Spain make arrest in 'love scam' murder of senior siblings
Civil Guard Police said Monday that the man, referred to only as D.H.F.C, was the "main suspect" in the case. Photo: CESAR MANSOAFP

The 43-year-old suspect had “turned himself in” on Sunday night, “admitting his involvement in incidents related to the triple murder in a house in Morata de Tajuña”, a police statement said.

Police had on Thursday found the three bodies, partially burnt and left in a pile inside their home in the village, which lies about 35 kilometres (20 miles) southeast of Madrid.

Neighbours raised the alarm after not seeing the two sisters and their disabled brother for some time, with police saying their deaths were being treated as murder over a suspected debt.

Police said Monday that the man, referred to only as D.H.F.C, was the “main suspect” in the case as he had “previously injured one of the female victims last year”.

Quoting local residents, Spanish media said the tragedy was likely linked to a fake online love affair, with the two sisters embarking on what they thought was a long-distance relationship with two alleged US servicemen.

They were led to believe one had died and that the other needed money so that he could send them a multi-million-dollar inheritance, causing the sisters to rack up huge debts.

Initially they began borrowing money from neighbours with the town’s mayor Francisco Villalain telling Spanish media they had rented out a room in their home to the Pakistani suspect for several months.

During that time, the suspect had reportedly lent them at least €50,000 ($55,000) which they had never repaid, prompting his violent attack on one of the sisters for which he was briefly jailed.

“They weren’t asking for €100 or €20, they were asking you for €5,000 or €6,000,” one neighbour had told TVE on Friday.

The sisters sent the money because the surviving soldier had promised seven million euros in inheritance money and refused to believe it was a scam, another neighbour told TVE.

Police did not comment on the reports.

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Spain seizes 1.8 tonnes of Sinaloa Cartel’s crystal meth

Spanish police said Thursday they had seized 1,800 kilos of crystal meth that Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel was trying to sell in Europe, the country's "biggest-ever seizure" of the narcotic.

Spain seizes 1.8 tonnes of Sinaloa Cartel's crystal meth

Police arrested five people during the raid in the eastern Alicante province, one of them a Mexican running the cartel’s Spanish operation, a statement said.

“This is the biggest-ever seizure of crystal meth in Spain and the second largest in Europe,” Antonio Martinez Duarte, head of the police’s drug trafficking and organised crime unit, told reporters.

“Among those arrested is a Mexican citizen linked to the Sinaloa Cartel,” he added.

READ ALSO: What are the penalties for drug possession in Spain?

He did not give his name but indicated the suspect was responsible for receiving the narcotics in Spain then distributing them within Europe.

The Sinaloa Cartel is one of Mexico’s oldest, largest and most violent criminal groups whose influence remains strong despite the arrest of its founder Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman and his son.

Both have been extradited to and jailed in the United States.

During the operation, police also detained three Spaniards and a Romanian, seizing five cars, documents, a weapon and cash.

But police believe it was a one-off trafficking operation and that “Mexican organisations are not permanently based” in Spain, Martinez Duarte said.

“These organisations send a trusted person who carries out the operation in line with their interests” and once that is over, he goes back home, he explained.

The seized narcotics had been due to be shipped to central Europe.

Although Spain is one of the main drug gateways to Europe, seizures of synthetic narcotics are uncommon as most traffickers usually deal in cannabis and cocaine.

READ ALSO: Why is Spain’s Europe’s cocaine gateway?