Europol valued damages caused by the thefts at over 10 million euros ($11.3 million) and compared the thieves' methods to the “Fast & Furious” films. According to Europol, the thieves, originally from Romania but operating across Europe, drove a car in front of a truck, forcing it to slow down, as two other cars held up nearby traffic.
At the same time, thieves in a fourth car would drive up behind the targeted truck, climb out through the sunroof and onto the car's hood from where they would break open the truck's locks and remove the expensive cargo.
The goods were then either transferred to the car or thrown onto the side of the road for later pickup. Europol said the truck driver and others on the road “were often completely unaware of what was going on” and that the thefts required “a high degree of sophistication.”
Tuesday's proceedings in Romania were preceded by the arrest of 31 suspected accomplices in France, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden. Europol said the criminal group included over 100 people, and that arrest warrants had been issued for the suspects still at large.
The joint investigation, code-named “Arrow,” involved five countries and was launched in December 2016.