On November 17, arrests were made in large-scale raids in Berlin's Neukölln district as authorities linked last year's historic jewel heist at a Dresden museum to the same Lebanese mafia family whose members were sentenced earlier this year over the theft of one of the largest gold coins in the world that was displayed in the museum.
The break-ins were executed old-fashion style, but the loot were extravagant in value. Prosecutors have concluded that the perpetrators behind two of the biggest heist in German history hailed from the same organized crime syndicate. according to The New York Times.
The operation involved 1,638 officers and the searched 18 apartments, cars and garages. In the end they were able to arrest three German citizens that they suspect of being involved in the break0in at Dresden's Grünes Gewölbe or Green Vault Museum in November 2019.
The robbers forced their way into the Berlin museum and they were able to get away with at least three sets of early 18-th century jewelry.
One of the prime suspects that was detained was also involved in the high-profile heist at Berlin's Bode Museum back in March 2017. The thieves used a wheelbarrow and a skateboard to steal the Big Maple Leaf, which is a 100kg commemorative coin that was issued by the Royal Canadian Mint. It is worth $4.5 million.
Jürgen Schmidt, spokesperson for Dresden state prosecutor said in a press conference that one of the suspects has already been sentenced because of the theft at the Bode Museum in 2017.
The suspect is 23 year old Wissam Remmo, a member of one of the Neukölln-based families with Lebanese roots whose reputation for mafia-like organized crime inspired 2017 German TV drama "4 Blocks".
Remmo was sentenced to 4 and a half years in prison over the heist at Bode Museum back in January 2020 but had not yet started his sentence after he lodged an appeal.
Schmidt said that the whole heist has a link to a clan of criminality. Local politicians in Berlin complain that the clan criminality term has stigmatized families of whom only a small percentage engages in criminal behavior.
The break-in at Dresden has been described by the German media as the biggest art heist in modern history. The security camera footage showed two men breaking into the museum through a grilled window in November 2019.
The thieves broke a glass case with an axe. Five minutes later after the alarm sounded, the officers were on the scene but the thieves escaped, according to NBC News.
All in all, the stolen jewels were worth £900m or $1.2 billion. A German newspaper reported that a nearby electricity junction box had been set on fire, cutting the power supply to the whole area before the grand heist.
The thieves fled the scene in an Audi S6, which they then set on fire in an underground car park before driving back to Berlin in a second getaway car, which was a Mercedes disguised as a taxi.
Even though the method of the break-in at the museums was old-fashioned, the authorities say that they were able to identify the suspects because of the CCTV cameras and the DNA analysis of traces left behind in the burnt-out car, according to BBC.
It is still unclear where the stolen jewels are. Dresden state prosecutor spokesperson Schmidt said that the objective of the special commission was to retrieve the stolen artworks, but they fear that the stones could have been recut and sold on the black market.