Thieves In Law

Court Takes On Criminal Clan

Mammutprozess am Landgericht Lüneburg
A policeman carrying a machine pistol flanked the court in Lüneburg at the outset of a case against the criminal gang.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    A German court is struggling to take down an international organized crime gang.

  • Facts


    • The “thieves in law” are an international network with roots in the Soviet gulags.
    • The group of criminals has a hierarchy, a shared code of honor and are famous for their tattoos.
    • The network is believed to operate globally with branches in Chechnya, Russia, Spain, the United States, Turkey, Greece and the Middle East.
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A court case against six men in Lüneburg is casting hazy light on the little known “thieves in law,” a professional criminal network from the former Soviet Union.

It follows an eight-year investigation that prosecutors have likened to a puzzle with a million pieces. The trial began in February 2015 and just adjourned for the summer, but is expected to run through December 2017. It’s being heavily secured throughout proceedings by armed police and extra precautionary measures.

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