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The daring Dresden diamond thieves
In 2019 an “astonishingly fast” squad of thieves broke into Dresden’s Royal Palace and plundered treasures worth up to £870m from its Green Vault. Almost instantly, says Joshua Hammer in GQ, police suspected a “Remmo job”. The Lebanese Remmo family are the “Arab-German Sopranos”, plotting hits and other crimes over water pipes in German shisha bars.
They’ve been linked to a decade’s worth of spectacular robberies. In 2010 masked men with machetes and guns robbed a Berlin high-stakes poker tournament. In 2014 thieves broke into a Berlin bank, stole €10m, then blew it up to cover their tracks. This time the 49-carat Dresden White Diamond had gone. Locals were distraught.
But the Remmos have no time for sentiment. After fleeing Lebanon’s civil war in the 1980s, they were denied jobs in Germany, so many of them turned to crime. Issa Remmo, the patriarch, kept his hands clean. But Wissam Remmo, 23, belonged to a “Gen Z cohort that was fond of expensive cars”. He was accused of masterminding the 2017 heist of the Big Maple Leaf, a Canadian gold coin the size of a car tyre. Thanks to Germany’s “lenient treatment” of suspected criminals, he pulled off the Green Vault heist in five minutes flat while still at large. His DNA was all over both scenes.
Everybody lost out. The “hot rocks” were hard to shift without their handlers being arrested. But the “smash-and-grab” robbers didn’t care for cultural value, and just wanted to melt the stolen treasures down. Nothing has been recovered. Six men have been charged in connection with the robbery, including Wissam, who is now serving four and a half years in prison for stealing the Big Maple Leaf. But that hasn’t stopped the spectacular crime wave. Another Remmo was allegedly involved in holding up a money truck in February. As one expert puts it: “Nothing surprises me about this family any more.”