Head of Georgian Crime Syndicate Arrested

Eighteen suspected members of a Georgian organized crime syndicate were arrested on June 18 in coordinated raids across Europe, according to a Europol press release.

The head of the so-called Kutaisi clan was arrested in Hungary, according to Europol. Twelve other senior members of the organization, career criminals known as “thieves in-law” were also taken into custody. Thieves in-laws function as senior leaders and coordinators within Russian-speaking organized crime groups. This is the first time such a large number of thieves in-law have been arrested in one operation.

Europol did not disclose the names of those arrested.

The increased presence of Kutaisi leadership in the EU stemmed from an ongoing power struggle following the assassination of a rival clan leader in January 2013. Aslan Usoyan, a leader of the rival Tbilisi clan, was shot by a sniper as he finished lunch and left his favorite restaurant. At the time, a Russian Member of Parliament told the Independent that the contract killing was “likely to bring about a new wave of attacks and murders.”

Authorities seized weapons, drugs, and more than $130,000 during the raids, according to the Europol press release. The operation involved six European countries. In addition to the arrest in Hungary, seven suspects were arrested in Italy. Arrests also took place in the Czech Republic, France, Lithuania, and Portugal.

The investigation is ongoing, and Europol expects further arrests to be made.