The Clan Behind the Green Vault Jewel Heist

Arab clans in Germany are dedicated to major heists, and the government seems powerless to stop them

A week ago, elite German special police commandos arrested three men in connection with an enormous theft of jewels at the famed Green Vault in Dresden almost a year to the day after the heist. The arrests brought headlines throughout Europe, but not so much in the United States, with only faint mention of the culprits. But there’s an interesting backstory to the group that officials believe was responsible for the heist, and it provides a glimpse into the problem of organized criminal gangs in Berlin.

The Remmo Clan, from which the thieves allegedly came, is just one of a number of Arab clans that dominate a growing number of streets in Berlin. Last year, Andreas Kopietz of the German Times published an expose of these organized crime groups that have established such a stronghold on their neighborhoods that police will only patrol them in groups. And because of the ethnicity of these criminal gangs, political officials and media outlets in Germany have been hesitant to report on their widespread illicit activities for fear of claims of xenophobia.

Regardless of their ethnicity, there’s no denying that clan crime is a major problem in Berlin. They’ve blown up a bank and robbed exclusive jewelry stores, safe deposit boxes, and armored cars. Their level of criminal activity is staggering and ongoing.

The Green Vault heist wasn’t the first raid of a museum by a clan. In 2017, the “Big Maple Leaf,” a $4 million gold coin featuring Queen Elizabeth II, was stolen from the Bode Museum in Berlin. Though three men from the very same Remmo clan were convicted of the heist, the coin remains missing and is thought likely to have been melted. (Unsurprisingly, that theft involved an insider—a guard at the Bode Museum assisted the thieves.)

After the successful conviction of the Remmo clan members for the Bode heist, the lead prosecutor in the case promised further investigation into the group. So, it seemed, the heat was on them. But not even intense government pressure was enough to keep this active group from targeting an even bigger haul: the Green Vault jewel heist, estimated at more than $100 million. One suspects that we’ve not heard the last from the Remmo clan, or any of their fellow organized crime groups, now dubbed the “Arab Mafia” of Berlin.

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