Romania: "Villain Academy" Dismantled
Romanian police said they have dismantled an organized crime ring responsible for a number of armed robberies of luxury goods throughout Europe.
Romanian media. Authorities seized an undisclosed amount of jewelry, expensive watches and luxury cars.During the Thursday raids of 52 houses, 14 alleged members of the "Romanian Villain Academy" were arrested, and another three placed under judicial supervision, according to
Prosecutors believe the Romanian Villain Academy, which has an estimated 100 members, was established in 2013. It is estimated they stole goods worth about $US 10.8 from luxury shops in Austria, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Croatia.
The group was run by an individual with the initials MB, whom Romanian media identifies as organized crime kingpin Adrian "Tit" (father) Marin Botez - currently serving a 10-year prison term for attempted murder.
The group had a pyramid structure, and acted as a school that teaches members to commit armed robberies. Members would attend training sessions under military-like discipline. The group recruited both minors and adults. Potential members had to sign a "contract" which included a set of sanctions one would face for not complying with the group's rule book. They group also kept files containing information on member's families, their medical condition, photos, and hair for DNA sampling - in case a member needed to be identified.
Such preparations led to members committing robberies in a very organized manner. Two of them, usually disguised as women, would persuade store clerks to open the security doors. Then masked robbers would enter the shop, threaten shop employees, smash the glass cases, and steal the luxury goods. The group always had another member in front of the shop on the lookout. They would subsequently scatter in different directions and throw Molotov cocktails to disperse attention. The whole operation would be conducted in less than one minute.
This article has been corrected on November 4, 2016 to reflect the number of suspects arrested. OCCRP regrets the error.