Mexican beauty queen and ‘accomplice’ arrested over theft of WINE worth £1.4m from Spain restaurant

A former Mexican beauty queen and her Romanian-Dutch accomplice have been arrested in Croatia over the theft of £1.4 million worth of prestige bottles of wine from a famous Spanish restaurant after a nine-month police chase across Europe.

Priscila Lara Guevara, 28, a one-time ‘Miss Earth’ Mexico contestant, and Constantin Gabriel Dumitru, 47, stole 45 exclusive wine bottles from the cellars of the famous hotel-restaurant El Atrio in Cáceres, western Spain, on October 27, 2021, police said.

The bottles of wine worth a total of £1.4 million (1.65 million euros), including one ‘unique’ 19th-century vintage worth £264,000 (310,000 euros), were spirited out of the cellar in a meticulously planned theft. 

Police believe Guevara, a former beauty queen, distracted El Atrio waiters by ordering room service from the Michelin-starred restaurant after its kitchen had closed.

Meanwhile, her male accomplice Dumitru slipped down to the wine cellar, opened it with a master key he had stolen during a prior visit, and filled three backpacks with the bottles, wrapping them in hotel room towels for protection, police told Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Priscila Lara Guevara, 28, a one-time ‘Miss Earth’ Mexico contestant (pictured), and Constantin Gabriel Dumitru, 47, stole 45 exclusive wine bottles from the cellars of the famous hotel-restaurant El Atrio in Cáceres, western Spain, on October 27, 2021

General view of wine bottles at Restaurante Atrio wine cellar in Caceres, Spain

General view of wine bottles at Restaurante Atrio wine cellar in Caceres, Spain

General view of wine bottles at Restaurante Atrio wine cellar in Caceres, Spain

The next day, hotel CCTV captured the pair, who had checked in with false Swiss identity documents, checking out at 5.30 a.m. and leaving on foot with no forensic trace of their presence left at the hotel, leading police to initially believe an organised gang was behind the heist.

The two suspects had visited El Atrio three times before the robbery in June, August and September, police said, and had, like many customers, been given a tour of the wine cellar.

Among the stolen items of wine was a bottle of prestigious French Bordeaux Chateau d’Yquem from 1806, which had an ‘incalculable’ value, said sommelier Jose Polo, a co-owner of El Atrio.

‘That bottle was part of my personal history, almost part of me, of the history of Atrio, but also of Caceres, of its citizens, of wine lovers all over the world,’ Polo said in a letter to local media quoted by El Pais.

The next day, hotel CCTV captured the pair, who had checked in with false Swiss identity documents, checking out at 5.30 a.m. and leaving on foot with no forensic trace of their presence left at the hotel

The next day, hotel CCTV captured the pair, who had checked in with false Swiss identity documents, checking out at 5.30 a.m. and leaving on foot with no forensic trace of their presence left at the hotel

The next day, hotel CCTV captured the pair, who had checked in with false Swiss identity documents, checking out at 5.30 a.m. and leaving on foot with no forensic trace of their presence left at the hotel

Security cameras captured a man leaving the premises carrying three bags of stolen wine bottles

Security cameras captured a man leaving the premises carrying three bags of stolen wine bottles

Security cameras captured a man leaving the premises carrying three bags of stolen wine bottles

The bottles of wine worth a total of £1.4 million (1.65 million euros), including one 'unique' 19th-century vintage worth £264,000 (310,000 euros), were spirited out of the cellar in a meticulously planned theft. Pictured: The Hotel-Restaurant Atrio

The bottles of wine worth a total of £1.4 million (1.65 million euros), including one 'unique' 19th-century vintage worth £264,000 (310,000 euros), were spirited out of the cellar in a meticulously planned theft. Pictured: The Hotel-Restaurant Atrio

The bottles of wine worth a total of £1.4 million (1.65 million euros), including one ‘unique’ 19th-century vintage worth £264,000 (310,000 euros), were spirited out of the cellar in a meticulously planned theft. Pictured: The Hotel-Restaurant Atrio 

Polo added: ‘It is THE bottle, impossible to substitute, 215 years of the history of Spain, wars, times of peace and construction.’

Polo and his co-owner Tono Perez said at the time of the theft they wouldn’t have sold the Chateau d’Yquem ‘for a million euros’ because of its sentimental value.

Guevara and Dumitru left Spain within days of the theft and were pursued for months across Europe before being identified by Croatian border guards as they crossed from Montenegro, police said.

Spanish police worked with counterparts in the Netherlands, Croatia and Romania as well as Interpol to catch the pair, who have not been identified pending extradition and formal charges being filed.

The stolen wine has not been recovered and the investigation is continuing, according to Spanish media outlets.

The Atrio Restaurant Hotel’s wine cellar is considered to be the best in Spain and one of the best in Europe.

It has been built up over the past 35 years since the landmark premises opened and has wines from 140 different countries.

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