Three people were arrested in Málaga during March as part of an on-going crackdown on television piracy. The police began an investigation in 2015 after England’s Premier League reported a website in the province offering unlicensed subscription packages.

The operation started by Spanish police is reported to have grown into Europe’s largest-scale TV piracy case involving a series of raids on properties and server “farms” across the continent, including in the UK. British, Danish and Europol investigators carried out simultaneous raids in Málaga, Madrid and Alicante, plus others in Denmark and the UK, uncovering a highly sophisticated enterprise led by a “specialized international criminal organisation.” As well as arrests in Málaga, another two suspects were detained in Denmark and ten more people gave statements to investigating officers.

National Police said the suspects used a “multitude” of servers and changed them periodically in an effort to avoid detection. In addition, they mixed their unlawful business activities with a legal operation offering fibre internet connections which, police say, hoodwinked customers into believing it was all above board.

Investigators have estimated the gang made at least €8 million from copyright theft activities, allowing the Málaga detainees to live in luxury homes from where a dozen top-of-the-range vehicles had been seized.

The group is said to have used a network of server farms across the continent to make illegal relays from copyrighted radio and television to subscribers in 30 countries. Customer payments are reported to have been made to a firm in Gibraltar, behind which Spanish police found a web of companies and a criminal organisation with branches in Spain, Denmark, the UK, Latvia, the Netherlands and Cyprus.