About 100 criminal gangs operating in Russia

It has been estimated that there are currently about 100 criminal gangs operating in Russia. As a Rosbalt correspondent reports, this was announced by Head of the Organised Crime Department of the Russian Interior Ministry Nikolai Ovchinnikov. He said that about 10 separate groups are already under investigation. In May of this year a criminal group was arrested in the Orenburg Region, which had been operating in various regions of the country since 1999. Two other groups were caught in Tula and 15 people were arrested. Various weapons were seized, including guns, machine guns and explosives.

He said that such groups usually target apartments and houses, vehicles carrying valuables, commercial offices, shopping centres and banks. 'The groups often comprise a group of friends, relatives or compatriots, people who can trust each other,' Mr Ovchinnikov said. The size of a group may range from 5-30 people 'although they are always well organised and armed. Occasionally there are even groups of spies within the groups observing the others,' he said.

A Rosbalt correspondent asked Mr Ovchinnikov whether there had ever been any cases of a criminal group specifically involved in organised killings but he replied that such groups were unknown if they existed. 'However,' he said, 'every group has its killers which are used to retaliate against rival groups or a guilty member of their own group.'

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