TBILISI, DFWatch — French gendarmes have detained 21 Georgians suspected of cooperation with Russian mafia. According to reports in French media, they are accused of stealing hundreds of bank cards and attempting to break into accounts and steal money.

The operation to detain the suspects lasted several days. The Georgian embassy to France has so far not received official information regarding the detentions, but Georgian authorities are trying to find out more. It is known that the detainees have Georgian names, but many of them are no longer citizens of Georgia.

Neither French authorities nor families of the detainees have contacted Georgian officials regarding the case yet.

“In every such case, we react, call regional law enforcement bodies to gather information and see how we can cooperate and if possible protect the rights of our citizens,” said Gocha Javakhishvili, Deputy Ambassador to France.

There is no official statistics about how many Georgian are living abroad, but the number of illegal emigrants is high. Georgian citizens leave their country to work and stay illegally in countries like Italy, Greece and Spain.

There have been many reports of Georgian criminals being detained in different European countries.

Thirteen Georgians were detained in Spain in June 2012, four women and nine men, accused of burglary and being members of a criminal gang. They were accused of robbing houses and according to investigators were part of a large crime ring. The same summer, several Georgians were detained in Turkey and Italy for stealing clothes.

Also in the summer of 2012, Georgian asylum seekers were detained in Germany for shoplifting.

Georgia’s new government has promised to fix the system of emigration, and has tasked a group of lawyers with amending the migration legislation and prepare a strategy for how to solve the problems in this field.