BERLIN (RFE/RL) — Armenia’s ambassador to Germany Ashot Smbatyan on November 5 categorically denied any ties to local Armenian criminal groups after an investigation conducted by two leading German media made the allegation, citing classified police reports.
According to a joint investigation carried out by Der Spiegel and the MDR TV and Radio Company, the Federal Criminal Police Office, together with the land police departments, has been conducting a classified operation to search for and detain representatives of the Armenian mafia. The Federal Intelligence Service and Europol have helped the criminal investigation officers of Germany in the investigation.
However, the Federal Criminal Police Office recommended that investigators not accept the assistance of the diplomatic mission of Armenia in Germany, since the investigators do not rule out links between so-called “thieves in law” and representatives of the state structures of Armenia.
The authors of the investigative report also note that as a result of the large-scale operation codenamed FATIL (Fight Against Thieves in Law) that involved a number of special services, the law-enforcement authorities established that Armenian mafia groups have developed “deep roots” and created a “strong network” in Germany, but the suspects could not be detained due to insufficient evidence.
The existence of the Armenian mafia in Germany began to be discussed in 2014 after a shootout between two criminal clans in July 2014 in the city of Erfurt, Thuringia, that left two ethnic Armenian men wounded. However, due to lack of evidence, the results of the investigations have not yet led to accusations and criminal cases.
The German law-enforcement authorities initiated 14 criminal proceedings against more than four dozen people, with charges including money laundering.