Fugitive twin arrested over Green Vault museum heist in Germany

Gang escaped with jewels and artefacts worth $1 billion

(FILES) This file photo taken on November 27, 2019 shows policemen leaving the Residenzschloss Royal Palace that houses the historic Green Vault (Gruenes Gewoelbe) in Dresden, eastern Germany, days after a spectacular heist. German police on December 14, 2020 arrested a fourth suspect man over the spectacular heist in which more than a dozen diamond-encrusted items were snatched from the Green Vault state museum in Dresden. - Germany OUT
 / AFP / dpa / Robert Michael

A fugitive twin believed to be part of a Lebanese crime family was arrested by German police investigating a spectacular jewellery heist.

The 21-year-old man is being questioned over a raid at the Green Vault museum in Dresden, where a gang escaped with artefacts valued at $1 billion.

He was detained in Berlin and police are still searching for his twin.

A notorious Lebanese crime clan, the Remmo family, is believed to have carried out the jewel raid.

Dresden police spokesman Marko Laske confirmed the arrest in Berlin late on Monday. He said further details would be released later.

German police had already arrested three suspects in November and launched an international manhunt for the twins after the raid on the Green Vault museum, one of Europe's finest treasure troves.

The suspects, aged 23 to 26, were charged with organised robbery and arson.

epa08825493 Two mugshots made available by the Dresden police show Mohamed REMMO (21, L) and Abdul Majed REMMO (21, R) who are being searched for in connection with the robbery in the Green Vault in Dresden.  According to a police report three people have been arrested in relation to the November 2019 robbery of the Dresden's Treasury Green Vault.  EPA/POLICE HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

Last month, police issued photos of 21-year-old twins Abdul Majed Remmo and Mohamed Remmo. It was not immediately clear which one was arrested on Monday.

Among the items stolen were some that are considered priceless, including the Dresden White Diamond and the Polish Order of the White Eagle.

Police raids at more than 20 locations have so far failed to yield the missing treasures.

The gang broke through a barred window and smashed a display case with an axe, then escaped minutes later using at least two vehicles to quickly get 200 kilometres from Dresden.

One of the getaway cars was a high-powered vehicle reportedly disguised as a taxi.

The Remmo family, which originates in Lebanon and south-east Turkey, arrived in West Germany in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war.

Since then, family members have been convicted of a string of serious crimes, from fraud and extortion to money laundering and even murder.

Members of the same extended family were convicted this year for a similarly spectacular heist, the theft of a 100-kilogram Canadian gold coin known as the Big Maple Leaf from Berlin’s Bode Museum in 2017.

The coin, with an estimated value of $4.45 million, has yet to be recovered and authorities believe it was probably cut up into smaller pieces and sold.

The Green Vault is one of the world’s oldest museums, established in 1723 and contains the treasury of Augustus the Strong of Saxony, comprising about 4,000 objects of gold, precious stones and other materials.

The collection was brought together in the 18th century by Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and later the King of Poland, who commissioned ever more brilliant jewellery as part of his rivalry with France's King Louis XIV.