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Spanish police arrest two alleged 'Pink Panther' jewel thieves

Spanish police have arrested two Serbian men who allegedly carried out a recent jewel heist. Authorities have issued additional arrest warrants, saying the suspects belong to the infamous "Pink Panther" crime network.

Police on the Canary Islands arrested two Serbian men in connection with a recent armed robbery, Spanish authorities announced at a press conference on Thursday. The men are also suspected members of the notorious gang of international jewel thieves called the "Pink Panthers."

The suspects allegedly robbed a jewelry store in September on the island of Fuerteventura. Three masked men with guns rushed into the store, immobilized staff members, and quickly made off with over 1 million euro ($1.1 million) in jewels and watches. The "perfectly prepared" heist lasted only a few minutes, according to the Civil Guard.

The thieves then escaped in numerous rented speedboats, which were used to avoid detection. Police said the men planned on smuggling the loot out of the Canary Islands in false-bottomed suitcases or by wearing the items and claiming they were inexpensive Chinese copies.

Two of the men were arrested at an apartment where police found the stolen valuables. At their residence, authorities also discovered evidence about other members of the "Pink Panthers" gang and issued European arrest warrants.

The "Pink Panthers" are a loose network of around 800 criminals whose members primarily stem from paramilitary circles in former Yugoslavia. Interpol suspects that they are behind more than 380 robberies at luxury stores in over 35 countries since 1999. Over the years, they have reportedly made off with over 330 million euro in valuables.

The gang is known for pulling off spectacular and meticulously planned heists. In 2007, members drove two cars through the window of a jewelry store at a shopping mall in Dubai - taking loot worth millions in under one minute.

A year later, the group entered a Harry Winston jewelers in Paris disguised as women and left with up to 85 million euro worth of luxury goods.

Despite their

smooth escape plans,

many members have been arrested in recent years in France, Greece, Italy, Japan and Switzerland.

The group received their name after British detectives found a diamond ring stowed in a jar of face cream, an incident that also appeared in Peter Sellers' 1963 comedy film "The Pink Panther."

rs/sms (AP, AFP)

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