Caucasian mafiosi clash with each other in Germany

For four years now, Germany has been trying to uncover the Armenian organized crime groups
For four years now, Germany has been trying to uncover the Armenian organized crime groups

Vestnik Kavkaza, citing German media, repeatedly reported on the criminal acts of the Armenian mafia, acting in the eastern states of Germany - Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. For several years now, German law enforcement agencies have been investigating the crimes of the Armenian mafia, the actions of which surfaced on a European country's social media after a resonant bloody shooting in Erfurt in 2014. In the context of the mafia, the name of Armenian ambassador to Germany Ashot Smbatyan is actively mentioned - the special services of Germany warned against having cooperation with the Armenian embassy. Now the German media became aware of new details and new actors in this sensational case.

The gun battle between the mafiosi in Erfurt in 2014, apparently, was the result of the long-standing hostility between the Armenian and Chechen crime groups in the German states of Thuringia and Saxony. The year before the brutal Erfurt incident, an armed conflict took place in Weimar. This information can be found in tens of thousands of confidential investigative files received by MDR THÜRINGEN.

April evening in Weimar, 2013. Leipzig car dealer Timo H. (name changed) sits in his Mercedes S, parked at a Greek restaurant. He has been waiting for almost an hour till the problem on which his life depends is solved in the restaurant. Suddenly, someone opens the door of a luxury sedan. Ramzan L. pulls Timo H. out of the car, hits him in the chest and drags him into a restaurant where there were several people. It caused a stir. Some run out of the restaurant to their cars and take out weapons. Others are already armed and threatening each other. After a few minutes, the situation calms down a bit.

Timo H. told officials of the Criminal Police Office of the Federal Land of Thüringer (LKA) about this incident in the autumn of 2014, a few weeks after the mafia's bloody showdown, which ended with shooting in front of a casino in Erfurt. His testimony can be found in internal probe's materials that have been processed and analyzed by MDR THÜRINGEN over the past few years. These are files of the Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia security agencies. 58 thousand pages give a picture of the complex world of organized crime in three states and their networks at the federal level. The documents include the 2014 bloody shooting in Erfurt, which goes back to the Weimar incident a year earlier.

Two points in the testimony of Timo H were especially interesting for LKA Thüringen. First, he said that the participants in the Weimar incident were well armed, for example, an assault rifle and automatic weapons were in one of the cars. Second, three Armenians from Leipzig and three Armenians from Erfurt took part in the meeting, and all of them are listed as members of the Armenian mafia in the case materials. They were opposed by three Chechens suspected of belonging to the Chechen mafia groups in Thuringia and Saxony. According to H., one of the Chechens stole two cars from him. Since H. apparently had been conducting business with the Armenians for some time, he asked them to help him with the return of the cars.

The analysis of internal documents suggests that in fact those were much more large-scale conflicts than the theft of two cars. A June 2015 LKA Saxony internal analytical report states: "Over time, Chechens have been supplanted by Armenians." Saxon police have already been investigating a group of Chechens who have allegedly been forming a criminal gang in Dresden for many years. The lawsuit against them was filed in the District Court of Dresden.

German investigators wrote in their reports that since 2012 Armenian and Chechen criminal groups have been in conflict over controlled territory and business. This is trafficking in stolen cars worth millions of dollars - stolen cars are delivered to Poland and exploited there. The seized automobile parts are subsequently resold in the German spare parts market. Both Chechens and Armenians are engaged in automobile trade between Belgium and Germany. There's some suggestion that drugs can be delivered to central Germany on stolen vehicles. Both Armenian and Chechen groups control most of the methamphetamine trade in Thuringia, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. It's a lot of money, and everyone wants their piece of cake.

But the line of conflict runs not only between Armenians and Chechens. According to internal documents of the German police, there are conflicts and business disputes within the Armenian mafia as well. Presumably, the Armenians of Erfurt owed groups from Berlin and Leipzig several hundred thousand euros. Investigators can only guess where these money came from.

The fact that the struggle for business is important for all involved groups is proved by the fact that, both at the Weimar meeting in 2013 and during the Erfurt shooting in 2014, there were more mafia bosses than usual. The materials of the investigative data contain evaluation reports on certain individuals.

Thus, Armenian national Sergei B. is mentioned in the Weimar and Erfurt incidents. An internal note shows an interesting trace: his uncle Oganes B. is a thief in law, identified by the German criminal investigation department and Interpol, one of the highest authorities of the 'Russian-Eurasian' mafia.

Investigators have long assumed that Armenian mafia groups in Berlin and East Germany are controlled by thieves in law of Belgium and France. Sergey B. has lived in Leipzig and was suspected in manufacturing and selling crystal meth.

Karen K., who lives in Gotha, doing business from there, is also identified as a crime boss. Officially, he is a janitor in an Armenian restaurant in Erfurt. Karen K. was also present during the 2014 mafia shooting in front of a casino in Erfurt.

Mamuka T. also became a headache for investigators. The Georgian, who lived in Halle-Merseburg, but laid low from a certain moment. Until today, it is unclear what role he played in the mafia shootout. It is only known that Mamuka T. was there. Both the federal police and the police of a number of German states attribute him to the Georgian mafia. The trail leads to the "Kutaisi clan" and its boss Merab D. arrested in 2013, who was considered one of the most powerful thieves in the law of the 'Russian-Eurasian' mafia. The internal file states that Mamuka T., Karen K. and Sergey B. "receive instructions from thieves in law from Russia, Belgium and France and apply them in their jurisdictions."

It became known from the tapped telephone calls on the Erfurt shooting that the Georgian Mamuka T. has his own 'brigades' in Greece, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. (Brigades are criminal groups under the command of the authority. Several "brigades" belong to the mafia, which, in turn, is led by a thief in law).

This also applies to Chechen groups in Thuringia and Saxony. Among other things, they have their bases in Dresden, Leipzig, Erfurt and Weimar. The principle of the hierarchy of thieves in law coincides with the principle of Armenian groups. This fact, as noted in investigative documents, allowed to prevent an uncontrolled mafia war in central Germany after an exchange of fire in the summer of 2014. From the tapped calls the investigators understood that the criminal authorities had made significant efforts to prevent new armed actions.

A politician from Dagestan, which borders Georgia and Chechnya, and with Armenia in close proximity, came to Berlin and Erfurt. This politician allegedly has good contacts with mafia bosses in the region. Together with the Russian-Ukrainian businessman, he made mediation attempts, which, apparently, were successful.

A few months after the shootout, a meeting was held between representatives of warring factions within the Armenian mafia in Belgium and Moscow. Disputes between groups in Erfurt, Leipzig and Berlin have been resolved. In addition, Russia seems to have been negotiating with rival Chechen groups. A truce may have been established, but it is not known how long it will last.

All this information and investigations in 2015 led to a larger investigation by the investigating authorities, and in the autumn of 2018 SPIEGEL and MDR THÜRINGEN released a detailed investigation titled FATIL ('Combating thieves in law').

For almost four years, the Federal Criminal Police Office and six crime control departments have been trying to uncover the Armenian mafia. It was also based on the thousands of documents that are partially available for MDR THÜRINGEN.