MEXICO CITY — A Mexican beauty queen and her accomplice were arrested in Europe for allegedly stealing bottles of wine worth over $1.6 million.
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. They were arrested Tuesday while attempting to cross the Croatia/Montenegro border in Eastern Europe.
Guevara allegedly checked into the Atrio hotel in the western Spanish city of Caceres on October 27 using a false Swiss identification and wearing a wig and sunglasses, according to investigators who spoke anonymously with Spanish newspaper El País. Later that night, 45 bottles disappeared from the restaurant's wine cellar, including a Chateau d’Yquem from 1806 valued at over $300,000.
The investigators who spoke with El País alleged the heist was well planned, claiming the pair had dined at its restaurant three times previously that year in June, August, and September. When they arrived in October, Dumitru never registered with the hotel and met Guevara for dinner. Afterward, the pair visited the hotel’s renowned wine cellar, which is reportedly a tradition after dining in the restaurant. Guevara and Dumitru then went to their hotel room.
Sometime after 1 am, Guevara reportedly called reception and asked if they could send her room service even though the kitchen was closed and only a receptionist remained on duty at that time. The receptionist agreed to make her a salad and left her post at the front desk.
Dumitru then snuck down to the wine cellar with several bags, used a keycard that he’d somehow stolen previously to open the door, and returned to the hotel room with 45 expensive bottles of wine hidden in the bags. The couple checked out of the hotel at 5 a.m., and left by foot.
While authorities quickly opened an investigation into the crime, it took them months to identify the culprits. Their first break came when they identified Dumitru in the security footage from the restaurant as a Romanian-Dutch national that previously was arrested in Madrid for stealing expensive wine from gourmet stores. But by the time they arrived at his Madrid apartment, Dumitru and Guevara had disappeared.
The pair reappeared in January in Romania when Dumitru renewed his passport, then vanished again. But their luck finally ran out on July 19 when authorities busted the couple attempting to cross the border of Croatia and Montenegro. They will reportedly be returned to Spain to face the charges.
But while the wine bandits may be in custody, they were not caught red handed. Not a single drop of wine has yet been recovered.