The Office of the Prosecutor General on Thursday sent to court the materials of a criminal investigation in which two men, Vjacheslav Gulevich and Aleksandr Kozlov, are accused of leading the so-called Kemerovo criminal group, and 11 other men of membership of the group and having committed various criminal offences.
In the same case two more men are accused of having committed acts of extortion in collaboration with members of the Kemerovo criminal group, but without being members of the group themselves, spokespeople for the Office of the Prosecutor General said.
According to the statement of charges, the Kemerovo criminal group mainly engaged in drug crimes and extortion. In addition, the group provided protection to individuals with a criminal background in exchange for money.
In the investigation that started at the beginning of 2016, prosecutors worked together with the Spanish police, and the first public procedural acts were carried out in the summer of 2017 when four suspects, including Vjacheslav Gulevich, were arrested in Estonia and in Spain in a joint police operation. All four suspects were placed into custody by court order. The remaining 11 suspects had by that time been convicted for various offenses, and are currently serving jail sentences.
Vahur Verte, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation, said that the indictment was the result of several years of work by the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Central Criminal Police.
"Organized crime is characterized by a very high level of conspiracy: leaders of a group do not commit crimes themselves, and members of the organization do their utmost for their actions and communication among them to take place as secretly as possible. This means that the gathering of evidence has to happen piece by piece over a long period of time. Gathering evidence about individual crimes is easy compared to proving the existence of a criminal group. This is demonstrated also by the fact that of the 13 accused, nine are already serving long prison sentences for various crimes," Verte said.
As part of the investigation, the police have identified and seized criminal assets worth some €200,000, including watches, cars, and real estate in Spain.
Ago Leis, head of service at the Central Criminal Police, said that by indicting members of the Kemerevo criminal group, which has been active in Estonia for decades, the law enforcement authorities are giving a strong signal to organized crime.
Leis also commended the good cooperation between the police forces of different European countries in the investigation.
Editor: Dario Cavegn