A 'major' operation against the Georgian mafia netted European police at least 69 suspects, with arrests made in six European countries.
The operation targets money launderers and drug traffickers
In a European operation coordinated by Spanish anti-corruption prosecutors, police arrested 24 alleged Georgian mafia members in Spain and 45 in Germany, Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland on Monday. Spanish police described it as a "major" operation that was "ongoing."
Those detained were held on charges of drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering, extortion and conspiracy to murder.
"The arrest of the criminal organization's heads deals a harsh blow to Georgian criminality in Europe," said a statement from the Swiss prosecutor's office.
According to the statement, Swiss authorities began investigation of "certain people of east European origin, mainy Georgians and Russians," in April 2009 and cooperated with other European police for months ahead of Monday's raids.
The gang was "a perfectly structured and extremely hierarchical international criminal organization, controlled from Spain," the prosecutor said.
Editor: Susan Houlton
President Vladimir Putin has called claims Russia is behind eastern Ukraine's unrest "nonsense." He has accused the government in Kyiv of raising tensions in the region, while expressing hope for crisis talks.
Fearing ostracism by their family, or even death, many former Muslims keep their disbelief secret. A German organization offers support to people who leave Islam for another religion, or for none.
The Turkish constitutional court has ruled that parts of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s judicial reform are unconstitutional. Erdogan is angry, but it’s not the court's first ruling to go against him.
With Easter upon us once more, the Christian candle is burning extra bright in some parts of Germany. Berlin is no leader of the divine pack, but neither is it as godless as some might have it.