Police and journalistic investigations conclude that the German city of Erfurt has become the centre of Armenian organized crime in Germany" />

German police closing in on Armenian mafia

Police and journalistic investigations conclude that the German city of Erfurt has become the centre of Armenian organized crime in Germany

On the road in Thuringia, Germany. REUTERS / Michaela Rehle

A German police report published by journalists speaks of an extensive network of organized crime operated by Armenian immigrants in Germany.

Local publications question whether the Armenian Ambassador to Germany himself has played a role in the affair.

How did the investigation start?

The police report which came to light in Germany came to an unequivocal conclusion: “The Armenian mafia exists in Germany”.

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The secret report was compiled on the basis of an investigation conducted by six criminal investigation bodies in different regions of Germany and in cooperation with the German federal police, German intelligence and Europol.

The crimes investigated include money laundering, counterfeiting, prostitution and drug trafficking.

The investigation was conducted throughout 2018, but despite the conclusions, it was halted in the summer – officials explained this by a lack of personnel and equipment.

Ludwig Kendzia, a public television journalist in Thuringia, says he remembers how the investigation began:

“In the spring of 2014, a police source advised us to pay attention to several Armenian immigrants.”

The police had previously recorded a meeting of two immigrants from Armenia with representatives of the Italian mafia in Erfurt.

“These were young people who have long lived in Germany – they had come from Armenia in the 1990s with their parents. Now they own restaurants and pubs, and drive expensive cars. Naturally, we wondered where their money came from,” Kendzia says.

No witnesses

The investigation proceeded slowly until a shootout took place near a casino in Erfurt in July 2014 leaving Adam Z., the leader of a local Chechen group, injured.

It was impossible to identify the gunmen and their motives, and the police said that no reliable witnesses could be found.

This episode was followed by other violent acts. In June 2016, a Moldovan man was attacked at the entrance to a brothel in Erfurt. Charges were brought against three immigrants from Armenia who were present at the scene of the shootout near the casino two years earlier.

In April 2017, a boxer of Armenian origin, Arthur Abraham, arrived in Erfurt to take part in a match. The very same Armenian immigrants whom the police suspected of participating in the casino shootout were in the front row. At the end of the fight, a group of people attacked a certain Karo Murat, who had also participated in the events at the casino.

When did politicians get involved?

In October 2017, 15 people attacked the owner of a restaurant named Christoffel in Erfurt. The owner was an Armenian.

Attorney General Thomas Ribel then paid close attention to the fact that the attack took place in public.

“Criminals no longer pay attention to the presence of witnesses or surveillance cameras. This makes the situation dangerous,” said Ribel.

“I am alarmed by the fact that the criminals acted in broad daylight,” said Thuringian Interior Minister Georg Meyer.

The police are convinced that the case is not limited to Erfurt – the connections of the criminals stretch all the way to Leipzig, Hamburg, West Germany, as well as France and Belgium.

“We established connections between different groups and concluded that they all form part of a large organization,” says journalist Ludwig Kendzia.

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