It looks like things are going Spanish investigators’ way: they managed to catch Georgian thief in law Gocha Maysuradze aka Gogita. According to the investigation, the Georgian mafia has made him its underboss in Catalonia. Gogita had created his underground empire, which included several groups of thieves ripping off luxury homes and apartments on the Mediterranean coast: according to preliminary data, their victims include pop-star Shakira and football star Gerard Pique. Lenta.ru has found out the story of the Georgian mafia's Catalan contact.
Al Pacino’s victim
As reported by La Estrella Digital, 54-year-old Gocha Maysuradze was detained along with eight of his henchmen during a special operation called ‘Al Pacino.’ Spanish law enforcers believe that the crime lord had a monopoly on apartment robberies in Catalonia; the investigation reports that Gogita’s group is responsible for dozens of episodes of thefts from elite housing and the collection of tribute from other gangs. They would pay the thief in law for the right to operate on his territory; the amount of ‘tax’ was about 50 percent of the profit. Those who refused to pay would fall victims to vendetta: they were beaten, tortured, and abducted.
Gogita’s arrest was preceded by several months-long investigation; he and his henchmen were detained in Barcelona, from where the thief had run his little criminal empire. At the same time, according to preliminary data, the crime lord himself was not engaged in crook business; he was Georgian mafia's underboss in Catalonia supervising several groups. So it was the members of these groups that involved in the burglary of luxury homes and apartments on the Mediterranean coast. Gogita developed plans of action for such pawns and tipped them off.
The crime lord and his retinue were detained by Spanish investigators last week. During searches, operatives found many documents on the activities of Gogita’s crime group, including business plans and a description of strategies for laundering hidden incomes. The Court of Catalonia refused to release the thief in law and his accomplices on bail; all of them are currently in custody, and their prospects are not looking good.
Accounting for Shakira
The investigation believes that Gogita had a soft spot for the houses with safes in them; therefore, his crime gangs would include experienced safecrackers. The crime lord had access to a network of informants who, with detailed knowledge of real estate in Catalonia, selected targets for the robbers, mainly among the rich people's housing. The same informants would warn the thieves about the availability of a safe in the house or apartment.
Gogita’s henchmen chose Sarrià-Sant-Gervasi as a favorite place for their crook business. It is one of the wealthiest areas of Barcelona with the highest per capita income, as well as the elite and prestigious district of Pedralbes. Often, thieves visited houses on the slope of Mount Tibidabo — one of the most picturesque attractions of Barcelona. Detectives believe that the football star defender of Barcelona and the Spanish national team Gerard Pique and his wife, singer Shakira, are Gogita team’s most famous victims.
The robbers visited the residence of the star family in early June when its owners were not home. Shakira was on tour in Europe, and Pique spent most of his time with the Spanish national team, which was preparing for the 2018 World Cup. The thieves took advantage of the thunder in Barcelona and entered the residence without being noticed, despite the fact that Pique’s parents were sleeping there at the time. The burglars got away with several expensive watches belonging to the football player and Shakira's jewels.
Fortunately, there were no casualties. Immediately after the incident, Pique’s parents went to the police, which initiated an investigation. Law enforcers noted that the thieves acted professionally and left no trace. Therefore, the detectives could not find any clues at first. Nevertheless, judging by Gogita’s detention, they managed to do it eventually.
Gogita became a thief in law in 1996. Over the twenty-two years of being a thief, he has gotten in scandalous situations many times. In the 90s, the crime lord operated in Moscow. In particular, in 1998, he was convicted for robbery and sentenced to three years in prison in the capital; later, his case was reviewed, so the thief was released in 1999; after that, he moved to the Stavropol region. In May 2009, operatives detained Gogita in Stavropol with two grams of cocaine on him. By the way, back then, investigators noted that the 45-year-old thief was unlikely to have much authority in the underworld because of his drug addiction.
The court sentenced Gogita to half a year in colony for drugs. After being released, he was once again taken in custody; this time, for deportation from Russia as an illegal migrant. Nevertheless, the thief managed to get away; he complained of heart pains. At the same time, the doctors did not only confirm the cardiac crisis doubtful for law enforcers, but also placed Gogita in the ward for veterans of war, some sources say.
In 2012, the thief in law was at the center of the political scandal in Georgia after the video of the meeting between a group of crime lords and Minister Gogi Khaindrava was exposed. It is noteworthy that the thieves’ code says that any contacts with government officials are strictly forbidden. However, Gogita got away with this story without losing his thief’s status.
He sided with Tariel Oniani (Taro) in the war between the clans of Aslan Usoyan (Ded Hasan) and Taro. In the summer of 2013, while in Turkey, he even took part in the mass brawl of supporters of both thieves in law (Ded Hasan was already dead by that time; the killer shot him in Moscow in January 2013). Apparently, it was on the Turkish coast that Gogita began his long European voyage.
The most curious things about the crime lord’s story is that he had already been detained in Europe. Moreover, in Italy, Gogita did precisely the same as in Catalonia. Italian carabinieri announced their resounding success in July 2014, after catching Gogita and ten of his accomplices during a special operation ‘Kura’ in Milan. Back then, Italy reported the defeat of the ‘Russian mafia’: local security officials exposed a group that was engaged in thefts from private homes. During searches, they seized 45 kilograms of gold jewelry, more than two tons of silver and silverware, as well as three million euros in various currencies.
Italian police reported that Gogita was a member of the group created by thief in law Merab Dzhangveladze (Merab Sukhumsky), Taro’s right hand man; the group comprised of several gangs that robbed villas and apartments. The ‘Kura’ operation was to destroy this criminal syndicate; its first stage took place in June 2013. Eighteen members of the so-called Russian mafia and thirteen thieves in law were simultaneously detained in seven European countries — the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Portugal, France, Spain, Austria, and Germany. Merab Sukhumsky was taken in custody in Hungary.
Italy put several more thieves in law on the wanted list. After the large-scale round-up, the ‘beheaded’ syndicate of burglars was spearheaded by Amiran Ebralidze (Amiran Lanchkhutsky). But in March 2014, the second stage of ‘Kura’ was held in Italy, during which Amiran and his accomplice were also detained. It was only after that that Gogita became the head of Italian robbers. However, less than six months later, he was also arrested.
There is no information on the further fate of the members of the ‘Russian mafia’ in open sources. But it appears that the European Themis was not too harsh on them: Gogita settled in Spain and began to rob the local rich people. Merab Sukhumsky, whom the Italian investigation called the ‘king’ of apartment robbers, is currently at large and lives in Europe.
Vagabond in law
“Gogita had a criminal lifestyle. He was a true vagabond, if we speak in criminal jargon,” Editor of Prime Crime, Viktoria Gefter, says. “He basically maintains communication with the same thieves and criminals as he is himself, and is generally respected. For Georgian authorities, as well as for the authorities of any other country, Gogita is of no interest; he is a different dude; and he is not someone's agent — just a felon, that’s all. He always gets released because there is either not enough evidence, or someone pays for him.”
According to Gefter, thieves in law's income is very diverse in Russia, and it is not always connected with open crime. On the contrary, a characteristic feature of thieves in the law residing abroad is that they themselves commit crimes or at least plan them. In Europe, mostly it is burglary. It is most profitable, especially when it comes to elite residences.
“Of course, celebrity houses are not an exception,” Lenta.ru’s interviewee notes. “A tip-off is not even necessary; the location of such facilities is often well known to everyone. Of course, they are protected better than other houses — but for professionals such as Gogita this is not a problem. On the contrary — it’s a challenge. It is likely that he could have been involved in the theft from Pique and Shakira’s house; this kind of crime would only add to his authority.