MOSCOW, June 19 (RIA Novosti) – In one of the most significant blows to “Russian-speaking” organized crime, Europol has supported the arrest of 18 suspects from the Georgian Kutaisi criminal clan across several European countries, the EU crime fighting agency said Wednesday in statement.
“The assassination of a Tbilisi clan leader, in January 2013 in Moscow, created a new power vacuum leading to several, violent attempts by key players to strengthen their criminal positions. This has resulted in an increased presence of thieves-in-law [indoctrinated career criminals] in the EU,” the statement said.
On Tuesday, seven suspects from the Kutaisi clan were detained in Italy, two in the Czech Republic, one in France, one in Hungary, five in Lithuania and two in Portugal, the statement said, adding that Belgian, German and Polish authorities had also provided substantial support.
“Ease of movement and excellent communications in the EU are an attractive environment for them [Russian-speaking gangsters] to deploy and monitor their organized crime groups, reinvest criminal proceeds and hide from possible retaliation from opposing clans in the ongoing power struggle,” the statement said.
Weapons, drugs and 100,000 euros ($130,000) were seized in the operation, which came as a result of 18 months of EU-wide intelligence and evidence gathering. The operation is ongoing and further arrests are expected, the agency said.
Michel Quille, deputy director of operations at Europol, was quoted as saying Tuesday’s roundup was an “excellent example” of cooperation working “to protect EU citizens across several member states.”