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12 February 2014

Spanish police arrest ‘Pink Panther’ gang suspect in 2007 Dubai mall robbery

LYON, France – A key member of the Pink Panthers gang, wanted via INTERPOL in connection with a number of high-value jewellery robberies around the world, has been arrested by Spanish police.

Borko Ilincic is the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice, or international wanted persons alert, issued at the request of the United Arab Emirates for the 2007 Wafi Mall robbery in Dubai where the robbers escaped with jewellery worth an estimated EUR 11 million after driving their vehicles through the shop window.

The 33-year-old Serbian national, who was using a false name and fraudulent Bosnian passport, was arrested in Alcala de Henares on the outskirts of Madrid on 11 February. In December 2013, police became suspicious of the activities of a group of individuals and, following message exchanges via INTERPOL with Serbia and Switzerland, identified Ilincic as a Red Notice subject as part of Project Pink Panthers.

“This case is a perfect example of the successes which can be achieved through international cooperation and the added value that INTERPOL brings in assisting law enforcement exchange vital policing information,” said Jean-Michel Louboutin, Executive Director of Police Services who commended the Spanish police for their vigilance and the support of the other involved countries leading to Ilincic’s identification and arrest.

“The arrest of Ilincic, who has been in INTERPOL’s databases for a long time, goes to show that the law does not just have a long arm, it also has a long memory,” added Mr Louboutin.

The Wafi Mall robbery was a key driver in the creation of INTERPOL’s Project Pink Panthers in 2007 to coordinate global activities after DNA profiles sent by the UAE from the Dubai robbery were matched against others submitted to the INTERPOL General Secretariat from a robbery in Lichtenstein in 2006, revealing that the armed robbery ring was active not just in Europe, but around the world.

The main objective of Project Pink Panthers is to centralize information related to the suspects of such crimes, identifying material (nominal data, photos, fingerprints, DNA), the crimes in which they are involved in, and their criminal partnerships and contacts.

The group is believed to include approximately 800 individuals responsible for nearly 300 robberies in 35 countries since 1999, with the value of stolen jewellery estimated at more than EUR 350 million.

There are currently around 400 ‘events’ related to the Pink Panthers criminal network recorded in INTERPOL’s databases which include cases of robbery or burglary, reported suspicious activity, escapes, arrests and seizures of stolen goods.