Spanish Police launched a major crackdown on the Armenian Mafia on Tuesday, in an operation that police say could result in more than 100 arrests from dozens of searches in the provinces of Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Alicante and Albacete, according to media sources.
The detainees are being investigated for crimes including robbery, extortion, arms trafficking, money laundering, bribery, forgery, drug trafficking and tobacco smuggling. They have also detected a group, based in Alicante, that allegedly rigged tennis matches.
Police say that the operation has led to the complete dismantling in Spain of the Armenian-Georgian criminal organisation, known as thieves-in-law (vor zakonen). Despite this, more arrests are not ruled out and there are five international warrants for arrest outstanding.
The investigation started after a double murder in 2016 in the city of Terrassa, about an hour outside Barcelona. On January 4 of that year, several people entered a flat on Naples Street in the city and killed Gela Garashvili, a lieutenant of the Georgian Mafia boss in Europe, Kakhaber Sushanashvili. Phone recordings revealing the plot behind the assassination lead to Tuesday’s operation.
As part of the same investigation, a Georgian organisation which had created a network of money laundering, mainly from home theft, was dismantled in November of last year. Katerina Myerkova, the wife of Sushanashivili, for whom she allegedly laundered the money, and another twenty more people were arrested at that time.
According to the Spanish police, Tuesday’s raids have international ramifications, as the group is known to have links in the United States, France, Italy and Lithuania.