THE BIGGEST police operation against an alleged mafia group in the history of independent Slovakia, according to the interior minister, has resulted in the arrest of over 20 people including the reputed boss of a Bratislava-based criminal group. They have been charged with various crimes, among them fraudulent application for and receipt of housing loans from the United States.
“If some bosses of the Slovak mafia believed they were above the law, this morning proved them wrong,” said Interior Minister Daniel Lipšic on November 15, immediately after the raids.
Foremost among those arrested was Juraj Ondrejčák, better known as Piťo, an alleged leader of the Bratislava mafia. He and six other men were charged with crimes related to a 2010 case involving the burning of cars in Trnava and elsewhere and unauthorised possession and trading of guns. The special prosecutor requested four of those arrested, including Ondrejčák, to be held in custody pending further investigation, the SITA newswire reported.
Another seven men detained in the raid were charged with fraudulently receiving housing loans from US-based banks, the Sme daily wrote.
The men, who were accused of being members of an organised criminal group, used so-called ‘white horses’ – people with false US documents – to open bank accounts at the ČSOB bank where they directed money from the fraudulently obtained housing loans in the US. The police claim they also blackmailed and threatened people to ensure their silence and, with the help of bank staff, then withdrew €1,114,278.75 from the accounts. Action by the police prevented them from making further withdrawals of almost €1.4 million, the General Prosecutor’s Office stated.
Another seven people were charged with unauthorised production and trading in drugs.
Ondrejčák’s solicitor Peter Filip did not make any statement on the arrest.
“I’m waiting for the decision about the detained persons,” he said, as quoted by Sme. The Trnava District Court ruled on November 17 that Ondrejčák should remain in custody; the Specialised Criminal Court in Pezinok was due to rule on those involved in the alleged housing loans fraud on November 18.
Around 350 policemen were reported to have participated in the operation, which was launched in the small hours of November 15 in Bratislava, and which resulted in the detention of 20 people including Ondrejčák, Sme reported.
The police searched properties simultaneously in several locations in Bratislava and elsewhere in Slovakia.
“[The police] managed to detain all those whom [they] were interested in,” Minister Lipšic said, as quoted by Sme.
The police raid on Ondrejčák’s house in the Lamač district of Bratislava was particularly spectacular: officers belonging to a special unit dedicated to fighting organised crime abseiled into the grounds, which are surrounded by a high wall topped with barbed wire, via ropes lowered from a helicopter.
“They broke a window in the nursery room and invaded the house through a room in which a one-year-old child was sleeping,” one of the men cleaning up at the house the day after the raid told Sme reporters. Ondrejčák was led out of the house five hours after the raid began.
The police have in the past described Ondrejčák and his associates, known as the Piťovci, as the most active criminal group in Bratislava, Sme reported. Despite all the allegations made against him, Ondrejčák has only one previous conviction, for a physical assault on alleged Košice mafia boss Robert Okoličány.
21. Nov 2011 at 0:00 | Michaela Terenzani