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
Amnesty International has said some 200 refugees presumed to have died in a major shipwreck last year could have been saved if Italian and Maltese authorities had not dithered over rescue operations.
EU diplomats have decided to keep in place a tough package of sanctions against Russia, over its actions in eastern Ukraine and support of rebels there. A peace plan had not yet been fully implemented, they said.
Catalonia's regional authorities have halted the publicity campaign for an upcoming independence referendum. The move comes a day after Spain's Constitutional Court suspended the vote.
Robbie Williams did it, and so did George Michael. Now it's Lady Gaga's turn. The colorful pop diva recorded a jazz and swing album together with jazz legend Tony Bennett. An unusual collaboration - that works great.