Earlier today a large-scale organised crime network, made up of Georgian and Armenian nationals, was dismantled in the South of France.
The network of criminals is suspected of committing over 1000 offences in the Toulouse region, which were mainly residential and commercial burglaries and thefts. The stolen property was shipped abroad in containers and trucks, while stolen jewellery was - on a regular basis and by the kilogram – sent for sale in Antwerp, Belgium.
So far 23 suspects have been arrested, kilograms of gold and jewellery have been recovered and the latest container of stolen goods was intercepted before leaving the port. These results are provisional and likely to increase as the operation continues.
The organised crime group was hierarchically structured on several levels and under the coordination of at least one ‘thief-in-law’ (‘thief-in-law’ is English for ‘vor-v-zakone’: a criminal with high-ranking status who acts as a controller and regulator of Russian-speaking organised crime).
The work of the French Gendarmerie (Central Office for Combating Itinerant Delinquency and Gendarmerie of Midi-Pyrénées) was supported from the early stages of the investigation by Europol, who facilitated the exchange of intelligence with other EU Member States and delivered analytical reports. During today’s operation Europol also had two officers present in France who supported the operation via their mobile office. The assistance offered by Europol for this operation is ongoing and the results of the interviews, seizures and house searches will be processed to generate further intelligence and investigative leads.