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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dutchman Arrested in Gem Sting Operation

City Crime Statistics*
February 6 - February 12
Theft (total)611233
For the Record
Car accidents88
    a) killed4
    b) injured94
Public drunkenness2656
Detained overnight209
*City police said statistics for Feb. 9 and Feb.12 were missing because of technical problems.
Source: Moscow police

A Dutch citizen was arrested in Moscow last week on suspicion of running a smuggling ring that brought diamonds and other precious gems into Russia from South Africa, the Interior Ministry said.

Interior Ministry officers arrested Pierre Andre Hendrik Maria van der Wal on Feb. 7 in a sting operation after he tried to sell 512 diamonds for 2.7 million rubles ($102,500), a ministry source told

Anastasia Mukhina, spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry's Central Federal District branch, said she was not authorized to comment on the case. But in a statement posted on is web site, the ministry said officers had been tipped off 18 months ago that a smuggling ring was illegally selling diamonds and other precious stones in Moscow through several jewelry stores.

Posing as buyers, undercover officers made contact with the smugglers, who carefully scrutinized their new clients before a middleman sold them 13 diamonds for 100,000 rubles (just under $3,800) in January 2006 at the U Adama restaurant in northwest Moscow, the ministry statement said.

Later, the middleman offered the agents a larger batch of diamonds and arranged for the deal to go down in the offices of a private company, the ministry statement said. After the money and diamonds had changed hands, Van der Wal, 58, and the suspected middleman, 51-year-old Zhzudyat Eksanov, were arrested as they left the building, the statement said.

Investigators believe the diamonds were smuggled into Russia from South Africa via Belgium and the Netherlands.

Van der Wal and Eksanov are suspected of illegal trafficking in diamonds and precious stones, a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison, the Interior Ministry source told It remained unclear Tuesday whether the two had been charged in the case.

The investigators in charge of the case could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The Interior Ministry statement said Van der Wal was the founder of the company Azure Jewelry. Police discovered more than 300 carats of diamonds and 5 kilograms of gold jewelry at the offices of Azure Jewelry and a second company, Laroka, the statement said.

According to a description on the web site, Azure Jewelry is a "subsidiary of large foreign producers from the United States, India and Belgium" that sells gold jewelry with diamond inlays.

A man who answered the phone at Azure Jewelry on Tuesday said no one was available to comment on the arrest.