Europol and Interpol have supported French law enforcement authorities to dismantle a crime network, on 4 June 2012, made up of Georgian and Armenian nationals. 21 suspects have been arrested so far, and a substantial quantity of gold and jewellery recovered.
The criminal network members are suspected of over 300 offences around Limoges, the north of France and Belgium. Committing mainly residential, commercial burglaries and thefts, the stolen jewellery was regularly sent to Antwerp, Belgium, for selling on.
The group was hierarchically structured on several levels (ie burglars and team leaders) and was coordinated by at least one thief-in-law (a criminal with high-ranking status who acts as a controller and regulator of Russian-speaking organised crime). Criminal links have been detected in Belgium, Germany and Spain. One individual of Georgian origin bearing tattoos specific to thieves-in-law was among the arrested persons.
This operation is the second of his kind (after Toulouse in 2011), corroborating the fact that the subject of mobile organised crime groups has been moved to the top of the list of priorities for French law enforcement authorities.
The French Gendarmerie’s investigation was supported from the early stages by Europol specialists who facilitated the exchange of criminal intelligence with other Member States, delivered analytical reports and supported the operation on the spot with a mobile office. Europol also took the initiative to invite Interpol to be present during the operational phase to give support identifying those arrested through on-site fingerprint scanning, provision of access to Interpol’s global databases and message exchange with its National Central Bureaus.
The number of arrests and seizures are provisional and likely to increase in the next few days as the operation continues. Europol will carry on supporting the French operation and the results of the interviews, seizures and house searches will be processed to generate further intelligence and investigative leads.
 Central Office for Combating Itinerant Delinquency of the National Gendarmerie and the Gendarmerie of Limoges.