Project Pink Panthers
The Pink Panthers group is behind armed robberies targeting high-end jewellery stores in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States.
This loosely-aligned network of criminals has hundreds of members and is believed to have carried out jewellery robberies worth in excess of EUR 300 million since 1999.
The Pink Panthers' methods are daring and quick. A case that made the headlines in 2007 saw gang members drive two cars into a shopping mall in Dubai and through the window of a jewellery store. The robbery took less than one minute and the gang made away with jewellery worth an estimated EUR 11 million.
Many gang members are known to originate from the former Yugoslavia, but they work across countries and continents, making the exchange of police information such as fingerprints, photographs and DNA essential.
INTERPOL’s Pink Panthers project assists law enforcers in identifying, locating and apprehending perpetrators. It centralizes data on the crimes and criminals, analyses the information, and builds networks of investigators. Working groups bring together investigators from around the world to combine their input in specific cases and to help overcome differences in legal systems. This sharing of information and data enables investigators to make links between countries that might not otherwise be noticed.
These high-profile arrests of key gang members demonstrate the international nature of the Pink Panthers' activities and the importance of cooperation between police forces in multiple countries.
Radovan Jelusic, a Montenegrin national, was arrested by Italian police in May 2010. Jelusic was the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice from Cyprus and also wanted by several other INTERPOL member countries for a range of offences. He was suspected of involvement in the 2007 armed robbery of a jewellery store in Tokyo, and was in possession of a forged Croatian passport when located.
Media release (14 May 2010)
- Bojan Vuckovic, a Serbian national, was wanted in Austria following his alleged role in an armed robbery against a jewellery shop in Vienna in November 2008. He was arrested and detained during a check by Montenegro police at the Montenegrin-Serbian border, after they identified him on the basis of nominal information supplied by Austrian authorities. Media release (04 May 2010)
- Close cooperation between Swiss and French police in the wake of a jewellery raid in May 2009 in Lausanne, Switzerland, led to the arrest of Nicolai Ivanovic and Zoran Kostic. Media release (15 May 2009)
- Police in Cyprus arrested Rifat Hadziahmetovic, a national of Montenegro, in March 2009. He was arrested as he tried to leave Larnaca airport, because he was travelling on a forged Bulgarian passport. Checks revealed Hadziahmetovic's true identity along with the fact that he was wanted in connection with crimes committed in Dubai and Japan.
- In October 2008, police in Monaco arrested two men after identifying them from a photo circulated by INTERPOL. One of them, Bosnian national Dusko Poznan, was the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice. Database checks confirmed that both men were wanted by several countries, including Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the United Arab Emirates for a range of offences including armed robbery. Media release (17 October 2008)