Elite police armed with drones and infrared cameras are hunting a violent armed robber dubbed Rambo who makes forays into Spanish villages from his mountain hideouts.
The specialist GAR Rapid Action Group unit, created to fight ETA terrorism, has been called up to help in the operation to trap the fugitive.
The mystery survival specialist has been dubbed the Requena Rambo by Spanish press, after the fictional former solder played by Sylvester Stallone and the municipality of Valencia in the east of the country which is one of the areas where he has struck.
The three-month push to catch him has intensified after he robbed a 4×4 at gunpoint in Ahillas a 45-mile hike from Requena.
The saga parallels almost exactly the story told in Rambo: First Blood, when the Vietnam War veteran hides in the mountains, using his military survival skills to stay ahead of local police as they carry out a huge manhunt.
The character is an expert in guerrilla tactics, weapons, and hand-to-hand combat.
A violent armed robber dubbed Rambo has been making forays into Spanish villages from his mountain hideouts to the north and south of Ahillas, Valencia
The specialist GAR Rapid Action Group unit, created to fight ETA terrorism, has been called up to help in the operation to trap the fugitive
Now in real-life events, officers on foot who are being assisted by a police helicopter have been combing mountains south and north of Ahillas.
Their target, who has a beard and is said to wear military fatigues, has managed to evade a police cordon several times to steal food from empty houses and sleep in the beds of holiday homes owned by foreigners and Spaniards from other parts of the country.
The police hunt began on February 28 when the suspect stole three cars before suffering two separate accidents.
He also held a victim hostage for three hours before making off with some asparagus. In another incident he ended up escaping to the safety of the mountains after threatening a police officer and a couple with a gun during a burglary at a villa in a hamlet in Requena.
The mystery survival specialist has been dubbed the Requena Rambo by Spanish press, after the fictional former solder played by Sylvester Stallone (pictured in First Blood) and the municipality of Valencia in the east of the country where he has struck
Officers on foot who are being assisted by a police helicopter have been combing mountains south and north of Ahillas
His latest victim was shot at twice from close range, but survived because the sawn-off shotgun the armed robber used had blank cartridges.
Vineyard owner Juan Jose Martin told local paper Las Provincias: ‘I thought I was going to die because the flash hit me in the face. I felt a burning sensation in my car and fell to the ground.’
His attacker fled the scene in the victim’s Land Rover before it was found crashed a few miles away.
The local Civil Guard have appealed for the public’s help.
In a statement released today, confirming a helicopter and members of the elite GAR unit were involved in the operation, a spokesman for the force in Valencia said: ‘The Civil Guard in Valencia, with more than 30 officers from different units, continues in its tireless search for a man aged 35 to 40 approximately, who is slim, around 5ft 5ins to 5ft 9 ins, and a fine and pronounced nose.
Their target, who has a beard and is said to wear military fatigues, has managed to evade a police cordon several times to steal food from empty houses and sleep in the beds of holiday homes owned by foreigners and Spaniards from other parts of the country
‘He’s dark skinned and has dark hair and speaks Spanish with no particular accent.’
The spokesman added: ‘He’s wanted for the crimes of robbery with violence and intimidation.
‘The public’s help in detecting this man’s whereabouts is very important.
‘His modus operand consists of entering empty properties, taking food and stealing vehicles using violence and intimidation before abandoning them or crashing them.
‘We would like to emphasise that if this individual is spotted, people should avoid any confrontation with him because he could be carrying a rifle. Instead you should immediately alert the Civil Guard.’
John James Rambo was a fictional character in the Rambo franchise. He first appeared in he 1972 novel First Blood by David Morrell but later became more famous as the protagonist of the film series where he was played by Sylvester Stallone.
A drone is powered up ready to assist police officers in the hunt for the violent armed robber who is believed to be hiding out in nearby mountains
In the last film he saddles up his horse and rides off into the sunset after ripping out the heart of a Mexican drugs cartel leader, leaving open the possibility of a sixth release in the series.
Jesus Gayoso Rey, 48, the head of the GAR Civil Guard unit involved in the search for the Requena Rambo – Rambo de Requena in Spanish – died in March after being diagnosed with coronavirus.
Members of the special forces unit, which has also undertaken international missions in places like Kosovo and Haiti and become heavily involved in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism, arrested British fugitive Daniel Dobbs in January at his hideaway in Malaga.
The armed robber fled the scene in the victim’s Land Rover (pictured) before it was found crashed a few miles away
The 32-year-old had gone missing from a South Yorkshire prison in November 2018 after being sentenced to 13-and-a-half years in jail in January 2014 for trafficking heroin and amphetamines.
He was held during a dawn raid linked to an operation against an illegal subterranean Costa del Sol cigarette factory he was suspected of running with another Brit.
Mr Gayoso, who had no known underlying health issues, had joined the unit he headed nearly 25 years ago.
The married dad-of-two started to feel unwell on March 8 and thought he had common flu. He is said to have been sent home after going to hospital four days later before being admitted to San Pedro Hospital in Logrono on March 17 in a serious condition.
He lost his fight for life on March 27.