Homes and jewellery shops have been raided by German police hunting a massive gold coin that police suspect was stolen by the same crime family which carried out a spectacular heist in Dresden.
The Canadian gold coin, valued at $4.45 million and weighing 100kg, was stolen from Berlin’s Bode Museum in 2017.
Police believe it has been melted down and used to make fake coins that the Remmo family can then sell as collectibles in jewellery shops owned by associates. They suspect some fake coins are already in circulation.
The same group are prime suspects in the Green Vault museum heist, in Dresden, where a gang escaped with jewels and artefacts valued at $1 billion.
The Remmo family, which originates from Lebanon and south-east Turkey, arrived in West Germany in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war.
The latest raids in Berlin focused on eight suspects, aged between 14 and 51, and the searches uncovered counterfeit coins, forgery tools and a “five-digit” sum of cash, police said.
“The evaluation of the evidence is ongoing,” police said. “Among other things, a possible connection to the theft of the gold coin from the Bode Museum is being examined.”
Berlin prosecutors said there were no arrests but that the investigation was continuing.
On Monday, a key suspect in the Dresden heist was arrested. Mohamed Remmo, 21, was detained in Berlin. His twin brother, Abdul Majed Remmo, remains on the run.
Police and prosecutors would not comment on whether there was a connection between the arrest and the searches, but members of the same family were convicted earlier this year for the Canadian gold coin theft.
Cousins Ahmed Remmo and Wissam Remmo, along with a friend who worked as a security guard at the Bode Museum, were all convicted for the gold coin heist and sentenced to several years in prison.
Among the items stolen from the Green Vault Museum, one of Europe's finest treasure troves, were some that are considered priceless, including the Dresden White Diamond and the Polish Order of the White Eagle.
Security cameras showed one of the robbers breaking into a display case with an axe.
Officers were on the scene five minutes after the alarm sounded, but the thieves escaped.