Page last updated at 20:56 GMT, Friday, 13 June 2008 21:56 UK

Spain raids 'major Russian gang'


Footage of the raids

Spanish police have arrested 20 people in raids against a major Russian mafia gang, officials have said.

The suspects are accused of arms trafficking, money-laundering and contract killings, the officials said.

They were picked up in Madrid, the Balearic islands and the coastal resorts of Malaga and Marbella.

Judge Baltasar Garzon, who tried to jail former Chilean ruler Augusto Pinochet, led the investigation with aid from German, US and Russian police.

The suspects were using front companies to launder money from criminal activities in Russia and other former Soviet countries, the interior ministry said.

They were also suspected of drug trafficking and tax fraud, it said.

Spanish media reported that the group had started operating in Spain 12 years ago.

The suspects are said to have belonged to the Tambov organised crime group.

The well-known group - named after a region in central Russia - is based in St Petersburg.

More than 300 police officers carried out the raids.

Judge Baltasar Garzon began the investigation into the group in 2006.

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