Spain Claims Russian Crime Ring Bust

ReutersSpanish police escorting suspected Tambov crime group ringleader Gennady Petrov into court in Palma on Saturday.
Spanish police said they had broken up the local operations of the Tambov and Malyshev organized crime groups, arresting 20 people and seizing millions of dollars in cash and assets.

More than 300 officers took part in simultaneous raids Friday at several locations, including Malaga, Mallorca, Valencia and Madrid, police said.

Among those detained were suspected ringleaders Gennady Petrov and Alexander Malyshev, who lent his name to St. Petersburg-based Malyshev crime group, police said.

Malyshev was detained along with his wife and another friend in a luxury estate in Frigiliana in the province of Malaga.

Petrov and his wife were arrested at home in the luxury Sol de Mallorca region of the Mallorca island. Also arrested was his deputy Yury Salikov and his "veteran secretary" Yulia Smolenko, local media reported.

The suspects are accused of criminal association, tax fraud and laundering proceeds from crimes that include contract killing, arms and drug trafficking.

Jon Nazca / Reuters
A police officer walking past a sports car confiscated in the operation Friday.
The suspects lived in luxury in Spain for the past 12 years and used bogus companies there to launder money from criminal activities in Russia and other former Soviet countries, police said.

Police also confiscated about 200,000 euros ($307,000) and several luxury cars and froze bank accounts totaling 12 million euros, according to media reports.

Judge Baltasar Garzon, who ordered the raids, prolonged the suspects' detention over the weekend, Spanish media reported, citing lawyers and sources in the judiciary.

Garzon began investigating the organized crime groups in 2006 and received information from the FBI and police in Germany, the United States, Switzerland and Russia, according to separate statements from the Interior Ministry and the Spanish prosecutor's office.

Vladimir Barsukov, a wealthy St. Petersburg businessman and reputed head of the Tambov group, based in St. Petersburg, was arrested at his home outside that city in August. He is being held in a Moscow detention facility as prosecutors investigate his activities.

Another reputed Tambov leader, Mikhail Glushchenko, is suspected of masterminding the assassination of liberal State Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova in St. Petersburg in 1998. Glushchenko remains free and is thought to be living abroad.