SPANISH police have arrested a mafia ring of nearly 300 Romanians, two being picked up in Palma, in one of their biggest operations against foreign criminals. The network was organised by one leader, known as Iorgu I or Talanu, with several lieutenants, and operated in eight of Spain's 17 regions, the Interior Ministry said yesterday. “The crimes for which these mafia groups are accused include violent robbery, forgery and fraudulent use of credit cards, drug trafficking, falsifying documents, illegal possession of weapons, prostitution and offences against worker rights,” Interior Minister Jose Antonio Alonso told a news conference.
Spanish police arrested 283 people and Romanian authorities detained another 14.
The two arrested here in Palma face charges of fraud and being illegally in the country but police suspect that they may have also acted as local “guides” for visiting members of the international gang. Over the past few years, Romanian gangs are believed to have been responsible for a wave of crimes across the Balearics including house break-ins, luxury car thefts and credit card fraud. As some of the equipment and material seized by police in a series of raids across the country revealed yesterday, some of the mafia members were experts at installing false scanners to the automatic cash tills in order to “clone” credit cards. Police also seized a collection of weapons and fire arms as well as 4.5 kilos of stolen jewellery and large amounts of cash at various properties over the past few days. National Police sources said yesterday that, after a final round of talks with their Romanian colleagues, the green light was given for the hundreds of officers involved in the operation to move last Wednesday morning. Since then arrests have been made in Valencia, Almería, Barcelona, Sevilla, Zaragoza, Castellón, Palma de Mallorca, Madrid, Santander, Málaga and Toledo.