Seventeen people were arrested as suspects in the biggest jewelry heist in Spain's history, the December 2012 theft in Madrid of wristwatches valued at more than 23 million euros ($31.4 million), police said Thursday.

Among those arrested is a known thief, Ismael A.V., alias "The Troll," who is considered to be the architect of the heist.

The thieves gained access in December 2012 to the Diarsa company, where they robbed two safes, making off with more than 1,700 watches of prestigious Swiss brands.

Among the people arrested are 11 Chinese citizens, and more than 300 of the luxury watches have been recovered, some of them valued at almost 270,000 euros (about $368,000).

Thanks to the cooperation of Interpol, authorities have been able to locate more watches in Shanghai, where the organization was selling them on the black market.

The Troll, 35 and with more than 10 arrests on his record, after the robbery left the working-class Madrid neighborhood where he had been living and settled into a life of luxury on the island of Ibiza, investigators said.

A cold and calculating criminal, The Troll gave a significant boost to his career in crime by masterminding the biggest jewelry robbery in Spanish history, police said.

He went from assaulting shops on Madrid's Golden Mile by ramming vehicles through their front windows to planning the robbery of a firm specializing in luxury timepieces.

His band of criminals entered the firm during working hours and gained access to the heavily armored room where the watches were kept without leaving any trace and without the guards detecting it, remaining inside carrying out their heist for four hours.

The thieves took with them the videotapes from the security cameras and knew the safe's combination, but - at the present time - police are ruling out implicating anyone working for the firm that was robbed.

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