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Georgian mafia crackdown

March 15, 2010

A 'major' operation against the Georgian mafia netted European police at least 69 suspects, with arrests made in six European countries.

Euro notes hanging from a clothes line
The operation targets money launderers and drug traffickersImage: dpa - Bildfunk

In a European operation coordinated by Spanish anti-corruption prosecutors, police arrested 24 alleged Georgian mafia members in Spain and 45 in Germany, Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland on Monday. Spanish police described it as a "major" operation that was "ongoing."

Those detained were held on charges of drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering, extortion and conspiracy to murder.

"The arrest of the criminal organization's heads deals a harsh blow to Georgian criminality in Europe," said a statement from the Swiss prosecutor's office.

According to the statement, Swiss authorities began investigation of "certain people of east European origin, mainy Georgians and Russians," in April 2009 and cooperated with other European police for months ahead of Monday's raids.

The gang was "a perfectly structured and extremely hierarchical international criminal organization, controlled from Spain," the prosecutor said.

Editor: Susan Houlton