Police crack down on Majorca’s Russian mafia

Spanish police said on Wednesday they had arrested eight people on the holiday island of Majorca as part of an operation coordinated by Interpol against a Russian organised crime group.

Police crack down on Majorca's Russian mafia
They arrested men are accused of tax fraud, document falsification, influence peddling and membership in a criminal organisation. File photo:YouTube

The eight are suspected of laundering money for the Taganskaya criminal group, police said in a statement.

They are accused of tax fraud, document falsification, influence peddling and membership in a criminal organisation.

"This is one of the largest criminal organisations in Moscow, which specializes in extortion from businesses that it pushes into bankruptcy and takes control of," the statement said.

"The searches carried out as part of the operation allowed investigators to confirm that Taganskaya used our country to launder money from its criminal activities in Russia," it added.

SEE ALSO: Could Italy's new billion-euro Russia investment deal open the door to the mafia? 

The Guardia Civil is investigating other evidence that points to the perpetrators’ involvement in other serious crime areas including coercion and corruption, Europol said in a statement.

More arrests many follow, the European law enforcement agency said.

Spain's Mediterranean coast has become a top destination for Russian tourists, especially the Balearic Islands and the beach resorts near Barcelona in the northeast.

The influx of big-spending Russian tourists has been welcomed by hotel operators even as it raises fears that the region could become a magnet for criminal organisations.

In January police arrested five people in Lloret de Mar near Barcelona who are suspected of laundering large sums of money for Russian criminal gangs linked to Semion Mogilevich, one of the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives.

Police said searches carried out as part of that investigation found evidence that the suspects had links with major Russian crime groups like Solntsevskaya and Solomonskaya.

In July, police raided the Majorcan chapter of the Hells Angels Motorbike Club in what was described as a major blow to the island's powerful German mafia.

Some 200 police and Civil Guard officers made 25 arrests in 31 raids in an operation directed by Spain's National High Court.

Most of the club's members arrived on the island from Germany after authorities in that country cracked down on the group in 2009.

The group raised money mainly by forcing women into prostitution across Germany and extorting cash from people they threatened to harm if they were not paid.

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Mallorca closes bars in crack down on hard-drinking tourists

Regional authorities on Spain's Balearic island of Mallorca on Wednesday ordered the immediate closure of bars on three streets popular with hard drinking tourists to limit the potential for coronavirus outbreaks.

Mallorca closes bars in crack down on hard-drinking tourists

Concerned many tourists are not respecting social distancing guidelines, authorities elected to close the venues on the Platja de Palma strip in the capital Palma and Magaluf, a favoured haunt with young booze-fuelled Britons.

One of Europe's hardest-hit nations with almost 30,000 deaths, Spain last month exited one of the globe's toughest virus lockdowns.

But as the summer season starts to take off authorities on the island feared matters could get out of hand unless they took tough action.

Earlier this week, Germany's health minister had expressed concern after hundreds of German tourists were seen partying on the island without masks or keeping a safe distance, fuelling fears of another coronavirus wave.

Local media on the Spanish island voiced outrage after video footage showed mainly German holidaymakers carousing outside bars and terraces on Friday evening, leading the German-language Mallorca Zeitung to note “it was as if no one had ever heard of the corona pandemic”.

The regional government last week had already announced hefty fines for those caught organising illegal parties or flouting rules on social distancing and face masks.

“We do not want uncivil tourists on our islands,” said regional tourism minister Iago Negueruela.

Negueruela warned that if the tourists simply took their boorish behaviour elsewhere then the crackdown would simply be widened.

Authorities in the Balearic Islands off Spain's eastern coast say they need to protect public health even as summer tourism, on which some 200,000 local jobs depend, begins to ramp up.