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
Pilots at Lufthansa's budget airline Germanwings have ended a six-hour strike amid a dispute over early retirement benefits. The strike grounded more than 100 flights at the end of the holiday season.
The European Union is in desperate need of a unified foreign policy as well as a strong foreign minister, veteran EU parliamentarian and foreign committee head Elmar Brok tells DW.
Iceland's Meteorological Institute has said that the Bardarbunga volcano began erupting overnight. The airspace around the volcanic system has been closed, though no ash has yet been detected, authorities say.
The Venice Film Festival opens on August 27 with a comedy, but promises plenty of hot political fare over the next 11 days. German director Fatih Akin is one of 20 directors competing for the prestigious Golden Lion.