The French police on Saturday carried out a large operation near Paris, during which 23 Chechen nationals were detained as part of a probe into suspected racketeering.
According to French daily Le Figaro the group members levied a “tax” of €200 on most of the trucks that entered Paris from Eastern Europe, primarily from Poland, Moldova and Ukraine. The operation was carried out by police in the city of Livry-Gargan in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis, northeast of Paris.
During the searches conducted by the police, large amounts of money were seized, as well as firearms. According to Le Figaro, the criminal group earned 200, 000 euros a month from racketeering and brutally attacked truck drivers who refused to pay the “tribute”.
The headquarters of the group was located in the city of Livry-Gargan in an armored room located in the territory of a transport company, in the garage of which there were many expensive passenger cars. Members of the group lived in cities located in different parts of the Paris region – in Isi-les-Moulineaux, Frans and Pantin.
The group, which was based in an armoured room in a building belonging to a transport company, was headed by a 40-year-old Chechen, living in Livry-Gargan.
According to Le Figaro, some of the Chechens taken into custody were already listed in the police electronic database of persons potentially suspected to radical Islamist activity. There is no evidence at the moment, however, that the group was associated with jihadists.
A number of Chechen nationals have been arrested in France this year in cases involving terrorism. In May, 20-year-old Khamzat Azimov, who has French citizenship, attacked passers-by near the Paris Opera house with a knife. One person was killed and five wounded, before Azimov was shot by the police.
In September, 18-year-old Abdul-Malik A., who was part of the Islamist Chechen group based in Strasbourg and suspected of preparing an attack, was arrested. A few days earlier, a 16-year-old Chechen was detained on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities in the southern city of Montauban.