Europol has supported Spanish National Police in bringing down a criminal group with Russian-speaking Mafia connections, allegedly involved in, amongst others, burglaries, money laundering, drugs and weapons trafficking. The investigation has resulted in the arrest of 36 individuals - including the group’s leader, a ‘thief in law’ (vor v zakone). More than 20 properties were searched in Madrid and Valencia, with bank accounts, vehicles and properties seized, as well as large quantities of stolen jewellery.
The criminal network, with Georgian origins, operated throughout Spain, and had criminal connections in France, Germany, Greece and Italy. Their criminal ‘cells’ moved around Spain to commit burglaries and other crimes, while other network members provided them with logistical support including tools, computers, properties and vehicles, false identity cards and even narcotics (to be consumed or trafficked).
The organisation sold stolen jewellery and other goods through establishments that bought and sold gold illegally. They also mailed and then sold such items abroad.
They ran a communal fund called ‘Obshchak’, to which all of the members contributed a percentage of their earnings from their criminal activities. Members were also required to pay a recurring fee to maintain their membership statuses. The money from this communal fund was used to cover the needs of arrested or imprisoned members and their families, and also to acquire weapons and materials for committing burglaries.
Almost 200 Spanish police officers participated in the operation’s action day on 3 July 2015, supported by Europol experts and the German Federal Criminal Police (BKA). Europol deployed a mobile office to Spain to assist with real-time cross checking of the data gathered in the course of the action.
Press release of the Spanish National Police (in Spanish): http://policia.es/prensa/20150703_1.html