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article imageSpanish-led operation results in arrest of 69 Mafia suspects

By Chris Dade     Mar 15, 2010 in Crime
An operation overseen by the authorities in Spain has resulted in the arrests over the weekend and on Monday of at least 69 people suspected of being members of a mafia gang run by either Russians or Georgians.
There are conflicting reports as to the nationality of the leaders of a gang whose members were arrested in an operation involving a variety of national and regional law enforcement agencies in Spain - where 24 of the arrests were made - and given the name "Java".
For while El Mundo and CNN, the latter source stating that it has spoken to an official within the Spanish National Court, insist the mafia gang is headed up by Georgians the Guardian, claiming its information comes from a Spanish police source via El Pais newspaper, reports that the gang leaders are Russians.
Russia is Georgia's neighbor to the north and according to the Guardian individuals from Armenia, one of Georgia's southern neighbors, were also arrested.
Police in Spain have previously detained suspected Russian mafia figures thought to be laundering money through the Mediterranean country's property sector.
Crimes allegedly committed by those arrested in recent days include extortion, drug trafficking and weapons possession. Conspiracy to murder charges are, says El Mundo, a possibility in due course.
France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Germany were reportedly other countries in which arrests have been made in relation to the activities of a gang said to have been committing crime in much of Europe, from Turkey, which is partly in southeastern Europe but mainly in Asia, to Ireland and the U.K. in the northwest of Europe.
Those now in the custody of various police forces in Europe are being described as mere "foot soldiers" and it is believed more arrests may follow.
Despite the apparent success of Operation Java there seems certain to be concern within police circles in Spain that those they have arrested will have little difficulty obtaining bail.
El Pais' source with the Spanish police is quoted as saying of the past willingness of the courts to grant bail to those accused of or convicted of serious crimes, Zakhar Kalashov being one such person:We had gained a lot of prestige in Europe for our operations against the Russian mafias and these decisions have thrown part of that work into the dustbin
Politicians in Spain have been the subject of accusations regarding bribes accepted to permit construction that was not necessary yet may have allowed foreign mafia figures to launder the proceeds of crime.
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