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News 11 Jun 15

Plan to Net 'Pink Panthers' Mulled in Montenegro

Police from around the world have met in Montenegro to plot further action against the so-called Pink Panther gang of jewel thieves - most of whom come from former Yugoslavia.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica

Senior police investigators from Europe, Japan and the United Arab Emirates gathered in Budva, Montenegro, on Wednesday to share information about ongoing investigations into the so-called "Pink Panther" robberies around the world.

The meeting is part of an Interpol operation against the gang, most of whose members come from the former Yugoslavia.

Interpol has a list of around 800 suspected members of the gang, all thought to have committed high-profile robberies of jewel stores around the world.

In 2007, Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France, formed a special project to deal with the gang, and while some have been arrested and convicted, others remain at large.

"Montenegro is where it all began. We all remember Predrag Vujosevic from Cetinje who is believed to have led the gang at this time," the head of the Interpol project, William Labruyère, said.

The head of Montenegrin police, Slavko Stojanovic, said the Interpol project had partly broken up the original Pink Panther network already.

He said that some 60 Montenegrin nationals were suspected of belonging to the network, of a total of 800 persons who were directly or indirectly linked to 370 robberies in 35 states.

"I am pleased to say that the Montenegrin police made a key contribution to many of those investigations," Stojanovic added.

The Pink Panther gang became infamous after a jewel heist in London's upscale Mayfair district in 1993 valued at around half a million euros.

British police called the gang "The Pink Panthers" in reference to a series of 1960s movies starring the comedian Peter Sellers.

It is estimated that the robberies in cities all over the world over the last ten years netted the gangsters some 330 million euro.

The main objective of Interpol ’s Project Pink Panthers is to centralize information related to the suspects of such crimes, identifying data, photos, fingerprints, DNA, the crimes in which they are involved, and their criminal partnerships and contacts.

Since 2011, cooperation between member countries via Interpol’s Project Pink Panthers has led to the arrest of more than 200 members of the gang around the world.

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