Spanish police smash Serbian crime gang, arrest 29

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Spanish police have smashed a Serbian gang suspected of carrying out robberies and scams in Spain, France and Portugal, arresting 29 people, they said Saturday.

Officers also recovered four kilogrammes (nine pounds) of gold jewelry, two gold ingots and 70,000 euros in cash as well as mink coats, watches and mobile phones, they said in a statement.

Women and children in the gang were used to carry out more than 100 robberies of households, and who sometimes "threatened to cut the throats (of their victims) if not enough gold was handed over."

The men meanwhile staged scams which involved them posing as investors interested in making currency exchanges, but who handed over counterfeit notes in exchange for legal tender.

The gang, of Serbian origin, operated in four groups.

One was in charge of southern Spain, another the Basque region and Navarra in the north and parts of southern France, while a third was based in the eastern city of Castellon. The fourth group operated in Portugal.

Among the 29 arrested was a jeweler who is suspected of fencing the stolen goods.

Much of the seized property was found at a farm in the eastern town of Vinaroz, police said.

© 2011 AFP

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