The AFP reports:
Spanish authorities said Friday they had broken up a massive Russian criminal network operating in the south of the country, arresting 18 people.
The Tambovskaya-Malyshevskay gang is the "largest criminal organisation of Russian origin in the world" and has been "totally dismantled", police said in a statement.
It said 400 officers took part in the crackdown in southern Spain, from where "they planned their criminal activities in Russia, in several countries of the European Union and in the United States."
"They controled the criminal activities of lower-ranked leaders", which included murders, weapons and drug trafficking, racketeering and influence peddling.
The gang also carried out money laundering through financial institutions in Switzerland, Cyprus and Latvia, and a network of companies," it said.
Eighteen people were arrested Friday, including leaders of the network, and the number is expected to grow, a judicial source said.
A police source said foreign intelligence services also participated.
The operation was carried out simultaneously in several places, including Marbella, Nerja, Malaga, Torrox, Palma de Majorca, Javea, El Campello, Valencia and Madrid.
It was under the supervision of Judge Baltasar Garzon and anti-corruption prosecutors.
Garzon is expected to travel to Palma de Majorca, in the Balearic islands, on Saturday to oversee search operations there.
Spanish authorities have already carried out several operations against Russian criminal gangs, notably on the Costa del Sol, where they are suspected of carrying out money laundering activities.
Operation Avispa (Wasp) in June 2005 led to the arrests of about 30 people from the former Soviet Union, including 22 leaders of criminal gangs, most of them from Georgia.
The interior minister described that operation as "the largest crackdown on organised crime in Europe."