French law enforcement authorities working with Europol, have dismantled a Paris-based network of prolific burglars and arrested 15 individuals.
Two of those arrested – an Albanian and a Romanian – are suspected of being the criminal network ringleaders, Europol said on January 14.
Searches of houses and other premises were carried out and resulted in the discovery of 59 000 euro in cash in a private room of a Parisian bar.
The lengthy investigation started in December 2012 following the arrest of an Albanian citizen who committed a burglary in Reims, according to Europol.
Subsequent inquiries revealed a vast and sprawling network of criminals, mainly from Albania, who were recruited by the two main suspects to commit burglaries within a 200km radius of Paris. The network, composed of about 280 young suspects, was divided into three-member burglary teams who were methodically dispatched in the evenings or at night to cities located close to motorway exits.
In recent months, about 30 young “foot-soldiers” were arrested red-handed with stolen jewellery, electronics and cameras in the suburbs of Paris, Europol said. “Intelligence suggests that the receivers of the stolen goods may be Albanian-speaking owners of legal businesses residing in other European capitals,” the police agency said.
The criminal group also co-operated with Romanian and Bulgarian associates who could quickly procure cars and fake documents, which prevented them from being detected. Investigators estimate that more than 150 second-hand or stolen cars were used within the mobile network.
Investigators seized computers, laptops, mobile phones and electronic devices that were forensically analysed by a Europol specialist.