Nine suspected members of a gang blamed for at least 18 rapes were arrested Friday, the Guatemalan Interior Ministry said.

The arrests took place in and around Guatemala City and "it's likely the number rises in the coming hours as the operations advance," a ministry spokesperson told Efe.

The gang, thought to have around a dozen members, has been operating in the capital for more than eight months and preys on women driving alone after dark, according to prosecutors.

"In the majority of the cases reported, the assailants operate in the same way: they take the victim in her own vehicle, they rape and beat her, use her debit or credit cards to take money from automatic teller machines, and later they abandon her in a deserted street. All in less than 45 minutes," a police investigator told Efe.

Authorities say the number of victims may be more than 18, as many crimes go unreported.

Most of the victims have been women between the ages of 18 and 24. EFE