Europol: Well-known drug lord caught in Berlin


Status: 06.12.2022 08:11 a.m

A well-known underworld figure was recently arrested in Berlin when a suspected drug smuggling network was struck: Ricardo R. was already being targeted by drug investigators 30 years ago.

By Florian Flade, WDR, Antonius Kempmann and Reiko Pinkert, NDR

Masked police officers can be seen storming villas in the video released by Europol. Men in sweatpants are arrested, luxury cars and expensive watches are confiscated. The investigators apparently found a lot of cash, but also pistols, ammunition and large quantities of drugs.

Europol speaks of an important strike against a criminal network of drug dealers that is “one of the most dangerous in the European Union”. A gang organized like a corporation allegedly responsible for the smuggling and sale of large quantities of cocaine, cannabis and methamphetamine.

Europe-wide network

In November, the joint investigation group “Krone” struck, in which police and judicial authorities from eleven countries were involved. There were 94 searches across Europe, and 44 people were arrested. The starting point was investigations by the General Prosecutor’s Office in Lithuania. There were also arrests in the Czech Republic, France, Slovakia, Latvia, Poland, Norway, Spain, the USA – and in Germany.

After research by NDR and WDR investigators from the Berlin State Criminal Police Office (LKA) in the German capital arrested a suspect who years ago was a dazzling figure in the criminal underworld: Ricardo R., born in 1956 in Katowice, Poland.

Ricardo R. used to be called the “Polish Al Capone”. He lived in Germany, Belgium and Great Britain. He was arrested in Berlin by police officers from Unit 412, specializing in Russian-Eurasian Organized Crime (REOK). The Berlin public prosecutor confirmed his arrest on request and stated that 4.5 kilograms of drugs had also been secured from R.

A dozen aliases

Ricardo R. was already in the sights of European and US drug investigators in the 1990s. He was suspected of being the head of an international network of drug and cigarette smugglers.

US investigators found more than a dozen aliases under which R. conducted his business. Among other things, it was about heroin and cocaine, which is said to have been brought via Thailand to Belgium and Poland and then on to the USA.

In October 2007, Ricardo R., who had since taken the name of his former German wife, was arrested in his London apartment and then extradited to the US authorities.

$30 million fine

He was tried in New York in August 2008 and faced charges of conspiracy to traffic in narcotics, money laundering and possession of illegal weapons. Prosecutors accused R. of numerous crimes between 1997 and 2007, and the court finally sentenced the Mafioso to ten years in prison and a fine of $30 million.

In August 2012, the US anti-drug agency DEA donated part of the fine paid, a total of 585,000 euros, to the Belgian investigative authorities, whose support is said to have been instrumental in breaking up the gang surrounding Ricardo R. His network is said to have handled most of the drug deals through the port of Antwerp.

Houses and luxury cars moved in

The US authorities also confiscated other possessions in the case against Ricardo R. at the time. According to court documents, numerous plots of land and real estate in several countries, such as Ukraine and Russia, as well as a villa in Nice, were confiscated.

The authorities also confiscated R’s luxury cars, including an Aston Martin Vanquish, as known from James Bond films. In addition, investigators confiscated numerous bank accounts in at least seven countries that had been opened as corporate accounts or through third parties, but which investigators attributed to R.

Ricardo R’s lawyer left an inquiry unanswered.

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