National Criminal Police detained individuals suspected of belonging to a criminal organisation

At the end of April, in cooperation with the Finnish authorities, eight people suspected of belonging to a criminal organisation were apprehended by the police officers in Estonia and Finland.

According to suspicion, the criminal organisation was led by 51-year-old Valeri, known as the Joker in the criminal underworld. A total of nine people are suspected of belonging to a criminal organisation. Preliminary findings show that there are grounds to associate suspects with offences against property and economic offences, such as fraud. All suspects have previous convictions for violent crimes.

State Prosecutor Raigo Aas said that there had been close cooperation with the Finnish authorities in this criminal case. “In Finland, the same members of the criminal organisation are suspected of having committed various crimes. For instance, some of them have been charged in Finland with trafficking in human beings and fraud related to supplying labour, as well as tax fraud and smuggling," said Aas.

According to Ago Leis, Head of the Organised Crime Bureau of the National Criminal Police, the activities of criminal organisations have been curtailed in Estonia and, as a result, criminals have expanded their activities abroad. “The members of the criminal organisation are suspected of committing crimes against property and economic crimes with the aim of generating income for the organisation and ensuring its survival. The suspects expanded to Finland with their criminal activities, possibly to seek a bigger income and to operate away from the eye of the Estonian police. This group is also characterised by the fact that it is one of the few Estonian-speaking criminal organisations in the Estonian criminal community,” Ago Leis said.

“A crime committed by more than one person does not automatically mean that we are dealing with a criminal organisation. A criminal organisation has a structure, a hierarchy, and does not cease to exist even if its members leave or its membership changes. In some ways, it is an alternative, distinct social group, which has been set up to commit criminal offences. As criminal organisations do everything in their power to generate the proceeds of crime, white-collar organised crime inevitably poses a heightened threat to both individuals and the economic environment. The crimes and the level of risk that this organisation represents will become clear once the evidence has been collected and analysed,” said State Prosecutor Raigo Aas.

According to Ago Leis, organised crime makes money by committing a wide range of crimes, whether it’s drug-related crime or the white-collar crimes of fraud and tax evasion that have come to light recently. “Today's organised crime is not visible to the public, but its danger must not be underestimated. We are seeing the internationalisation of crime and the spread of crime beyond Estonia’s borders, which means that harm is also being done elsewhere. The Estonian police will continue to fight organised crime, and we are working with our foreign partners to do so,” Leis said.

As the suspects may continue to commit crimes or evade criminal proceedings while at liberty, the Prosecutor's Office requested the court to detain all suspects. The Harju County Court took seven of the men into custody for up to two months, and two suspects are held in custody in the Republic of Finland. All the suspects have previous criminal convictions for offences such as violent crimes and crimes against property, as well as drug-relates crimes.

Criminal proceedings were commenced on the basis of sections 255 and 256 of the Penal Code relating to membership of a criminal organisation as well as formation of a criminal organisation. The investigation is being conducted by the Organised Crime Bureau of the National Criminal Police and led by the Office of the Prosecutor General.

Leana Loide
Press Officer
Police and Border Guard Board
+372 525 4219

Kauri Sinkevicius
Press Officer
Office of the Prosecutor General
+372 5685 4058