Organisers of massive illegal parties during the pandemic arrested
Police have arrested the organisers, who rented holiday lets and charged admission
BarcelonaThey did not comply with covid restrictions. They looked for holiday lets in rural Catalonia where they could organise huge parties with about 300 or 400 participants. The landlords were led to believe they were renting the houses to families, and were then left out of pocket as no payment was made for the rental. The organisers did not pay for material they rented either, nor for catering and beverage services: all the invoices remained outstanding. The organisers of these covid parties did, however, charge for admission and also for the drinks. The Mossos d'Esquadra have arrested three people who formed a criminal group which, according to the police, had seen an opportunity in the middle of the pandemic and organised these illegal parties. They are estimated to have defraud around €200,000.
The organisers contacted people running holiday lets under false names to hide their identity. They used other people's IDs and sent via e-mail forged receipts of a bank transfers so that the landlord would believe that they had paid, and alleged that the payment hadn't yet come through because of the weekend. Their scam consisted of acting at the last minute, contacting the people in charge of the holiday lets around 24 hours before the party took place.
The attendees found out about the location on the same night to avoid the police finding out, according to the Mossos. Although the holiday lets usually had a capacity of between 10 or 15 people, hundreds crammed in. The group had clearly defined roles: rental of spaces, recruitment on social networks, hiring of catering, sound systems and light equipment, and security and access control. They did not have a special geographical predilection, as they acted throughout Catalonia: the regions through which they passed are Maresme, Noguera, Garraf, Pla de l'Estany, Alt Camp, Baix Empordà, Gironès, Bages, Osona, Selva and Tarragonès.
The Mossos linked the three detainees to at least 25 illegal parties during covid and believe they are responsible of 25 crimes of fraud and forgery. After appearing in court, they have been released with charges. Apart from the criminal proceedings, the police have also imposed fines for failing to comply with covid measures in force at the time.