French police in the northeastern city of Caen have broken up a Georgian criminal network, called the “Vory v Zakone”, translating as thieves-in-law, which had been operating in the Normandy region.
After more than a year and a half of investigations, the investigators from Caen and the central office for the fight against itinerant delinquency struck against the criminal network, which includes members from several former Soviet bloc countries, including Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Moldova, Chechnya, and Ukraine. The organisation specialises in burglaries and shoplifting in the Normandy region and other areas bordering the English Channel.
Most of the gang members arrested on Tuesday reside partly in the area of Caen. Other arrests were also held in Rennes, in the Paris region, and in Rouen. About 15 people in total are thought to have been arrested.
On Monday night the group’s alleged leader, Lacha Chachanashvili, 57, was detained in Thessaloniki along with two other alleged accomplices.
Lacha Chachanashvili was first arrested in Greece in 2012 and sentenced to 14 years in prison for leading an international mafia network, active in the trafficking of drugs, weapons and jewellery in several European countries.
In 2016, he was released on parole but is suspected of continuing to run his network.
An international warrant had been issued against him in recent years and France has requested extradition for crimes committed in that country.
According to Eurojust, which helps to coordinate cross border police operations in the EU, the gang is suspected of having committed thousands of burglaries and retail thefts in the Normandy region as well as in Greece. It is estimated that they were responsible for an average 13 shoplifting acts in France and 3 house breakings in Greece a day, causing a severe damage of several millions of euros.
This large-scale operation mobilised nearly 300 French gendarmes, working in collaboration with the Greek and Georgian authorities.