A Wine Heist Made For The Movies. Except This One Actually Happened.

Priscila Lara Guevara

Priscila Lara Guevara, a former Miss Earth 2016 contestant in Mexico State, and her partner Constantín Gabriel Dumitru spent months on the run after stealing the bottles from an upscale restaurant-hotel in Spain

A former Mexican beauty queen and a Romanian-Dutch associate were arrested in Croatia for stealing $1.7 million in prestigious bottles of wine from Spain after a nine-month chase through Europe, police said on Wednesday. In a statement, Spanish National Police said 45 bottles worth a total of EUR 1.65 million, including one “unique” vintage from the 19th century that is valued at EUR 310,000, were taken on October 27th, 2021 from the west-side town of Caceres during a carefully planned theft from the winery of El Atrio, a famous hotel-restaurant.

Police investigators believe that the woman, a 29-year-old Mexican woman, who according to Spanish daily newspaper El Pais had been competing in beauty pageants in her native country, diverted waiters at El Atrio, ordering room service at the Michelin-starred restaurant after her kitchen closed, diverted waiters at El Atrio by calling room service. Meanwhile, her 47-year-old male accomplice sneaked downstairs into the wine cellar, opened it with the key he had stolen on an earlier visit, and packed three backpacks full of bottles, wrapping them in hotel room towels for protection according to the police announcement. The following day, the hotel’s security camera caught the two, who had checked in using fake Swiss IDs, checking out at 5:30 am and leaving on foot without any forensic evidence left at the hotel, which led police initially to believe that an organized gang was behind the robbery, according to it.

The police said the two suspects had visited El Atrio three times before the heist and had tours of the winery. Among the stolen wines was a bottle from prestigious Chateau d’Yquem, the Chateau de Bordeaux, France, dating to 1806, that had an “incalculable” value, said Jose Polo, the co-owner of El Atrio, the wine director. “That bottle is part of my personal story, nearly of my own, the story of the Atrio, but also the story of Caceres, of its citizens, wine lovers everywhere,” Polo said in a letter to the local media, quoted in El Pais.

The two suspects left Spain in days and were chased for months through Europe, eventually being identified by Croatian border guards when crossing from Montenegro. Spanish police worked with colleagues from the Netherlands, Croatia, Romania, and Interpol to capture the two, who remain unidentified pending extradition and filing formal charges.

According to Spanish media, the stolen wines were not recovered, and the investigation is ongoing.

For more on this story, please consider these sources:

  1. ‘Wine theft of the century’: A beauty queen, 45 bottles of the liquor and a nine-month European chase – First post
  2. Million-Dollar Wine Heist Ends With Mexican Beauty Queen Arrested in Europe – VICE
  3. Two suspects arrested over $1.6M wine heist at Spanish hotel – CNN
  4. A attractiveness queen, 45 bottles of the liquor and a nine-month European chase – Hunt Daily News
John Nightbridge is a veteran reporter, researcher, and economic policy major from UCLA. Passionate about world issues and potential ways to solve them is a significant focus of his work. Writing freelance and reading the news are John's passions at work. Outside of work, it's all about sky diving, surfing, and stock market modeling.