Suspected members of a criminal gang who made videos showing other scammers how to blow up ATMs have been arrested after an alleged member blew himself up while filming an educational program.
Dutch and German police have arrested nine suspects during an 18-month investigation into the gang, which has been linked to at least 15 attacks on ATMs in Germany that caused millions of euros in losses.
The European Union police agency Europol said one suspect was killed and another seriously injured during a test run of an explosion.
Police in the German city of Annasbrück became suspicious when a 29-year-old Dutch man called several ATMs, claiming they were working on an art project in the Netherlands.
But they were delivered to a warehouse that serves as a temporary training center in the Dutch city of Utrecht, where the man and his accomplice tested ways to detonate them to get the cash inside, according to Europol.
The agency said they also recorded video footage of their efforts.
“The couple were ordering different models of ATMs and recording lessons on how to detonate them more effectively,” Europol added.
The 29-year-old was killed in September 2020 while testing an explosive device at the training center, while his 24-year-old partner was injured and arrested.
Dutch police arrested three suspects on Tuesday and raided seven properties, where they found equipment used to blow up ATMs.
The other six were arrested in the Netherlands last year.
The three suspects arrested earlier this week are expected to be sent to Germany to face trial.
About 414 ATMs were blown up across Germany last year, an increase of 19% over the previous year.
German authorities believe that about two-thirds of the suspects come from the Netherlands after heightened security measures imposed by German banks led to a shift in criminal activity to Germany.
“The cross-border investigation worked brilliantly,” Osnabrück police chief Michael Maasmann said.
“This is a major blow to the international arena as they are blowing up automated teller machines and their criminal activities,” he added.
“Thanks to our investigation, for the first time, we were able to reach the people involved in organization and logistics,” he added. “We will stay on the case and will not flinch.”