Last Friday (3rd July) almost 200 Spanish police officers, supported by Europol experts and the German Federal Criminal Police (BKA) successfully took down a Georgian ‘mafia' group active in Spain. There were 36 arrests including the group leader ‘vor v zakone' (‘thief in law') and seizure of assets including bank accounts and properties in Madrid and Valencia.

Europol deployed a mobile office to Spain to assist with real-time cross checking of the data gathered, covering money laundering, weapons trafficking, drugs and burglaries.

It was certainly ‘organised' crime with the group working in a coordinated fashion, using network members to provide the means to commit crime - supplying logistical support, tools, computers, properties and vehicles, false identity cards and narcotics. They even ran an ‘Obshchak' (common fund) into which all members contributed a percentage of their criminal earnings, plus a recurring fee for membership. The money from this communal fund was paid to arrested or imprisoned members and their families, and also used to acquire weapons and tools.