22 members of one of Europe’s most prolific criminal gangs who made £600m in two years are arrested in Britain and on the continent as police recover £7m in cash, cars and gold
- Police arrested 22 top drug trafficking gang members including ringleader
- Operation ‘Icebreaker’ took place in Spain, Poland, Lithuania, Spain, and Britain
- Police seized £7m, 40 properties, diamonds, gold, jewellery and luxury cars
Police have arrested 22 suspects in an operation across five countries that dismantled one of Europe’s top criminal groups behind drug trafficking and assassinations, the EU’s police agency said Wednesday.
The operation code-named ‘Icebreaker’, which took place last week, led to the arrest of the 48-year-old Lithuanian ringleader in Spain and other suspects in Poland, Lithuania, Spain and Britain, Europol said.
The ‘highly professional and dangerous’ gang was ‘involved in large-scale drug and cigarette trafficking, assassinations and money laundering’ netting an estimated 680 million euros ($760 million) over the past two years, it said.
About 450 police officers seized an estimated £7m in cash after raiding 40 properties across Europe and Britain
The gang made most of its money by trafficking drugs and cigarettes into Britain and then smuggling the cash to Poland, where it was laundered and invested in property in Spain and other European countries
Around 450 police raided 40 properties, seizing 8 million euros in cash, diamonds, gold bars, jewellery and luxury vehicles, as well as hidden compartments used to smuggle drugs, Europol said in a statement.
The gang made most of its money by trafficking drugs and cigarettes into Britain and then smuggling the cash to Poland, where it was laundered in currency exchange offices and invested in property in Spain and other countries, said Europol.
Europol has said that the gang’s alleged ringleader was arrested in Spain, a 48-year-old Lithuanian
Jewelry, gold bars and diamonds were also recovered in the police raids
The operation, which also involved Estonian police, took place on May 15-16 and was the ‘biggest of its kind to date in Europe against such an organised crime group’, the agency said.
The group used ‘specialised encrypted communication devices’ and countersurveillance techniques to try to stay a step ahead of police, Europol said.
Police seized luxury cars such as this one in their property raids
HM Revenue and Customs led the operation in Britain, arresting three men in Coventry.
Arturs Nespors, 29, Alexksej Rybnikov, 42, and Marius Stancikas, 40, have been remanded in custody while a fourth man from Lithuania was detained on a European arrest warrant and is facing extradition to Lithuania.
The operation took place on 15-16 May and is the biggest of its kind to date in Europe
Police raided luxury homes such as this one and found hidden compartments used to smuggle drugs
HM Revenue and Customs led the operation in Britain, arresting three men in Coventry who will appear at Birmingham crown court in June
HM Revenue and Customs detained a 42-year-old Lithuanian man on a European arrest warrant on suspicion of money laundering and is facing extradition to Lithuania
The gang members made £600m in just two years, profiting from cigarette trafficking, assassinations and money laundering