A spectacular robbery, at full speed on a Romanian motorway, was one way of doing this.Images of the robbery, released by the Romanian Public Prosecution Service’s Directorate for Organized Crime and Terror Investigation, DIICOT 2012, show the robbers climbing up through the sunroof of their own vehicle and crawling over the bonnet. They then climbed into the cargo space of the lorry in front – still at breakneck speed. The film went viral internationally on social media.At the same time, their extravagant gangster lifestyle was frequently reported on in the media. Pictures showed how Ion Balint seemed to be living comfortably within the walls of the Jilava prison. Wearing baggy tracksuit bottoms in the same colour and pattern as the American flag, he sat on his bottom bunk with the television on. Around his wrist was a gold watch and on his red T-shirt were the words: “I’m trying to pick you up”.
The television cameras then followed Ion Balint post-release from the Rahova prison in central Bucharest last autumn after yet another legal backflip. From there he went to his luxury villa on the shore of Lake Snagov, 40 kilometres north of the capital.When we take a boat trip on the lake, we pass palaces and lavish shoreside mansions on the way to the Camataru house, which is deserted that day. The summer palace of former dictator Ceausescu was just a short distance away.Ion’s brother, Vasile Balint, was also released this spring. The brothers’ holiday snaps show how they’ve spent their time in freedom: partying, dinners, relaxing by the jetty in Snagov, body building at the gym and sunbathing on the Black Sea coast, where they have a house in the seaside resort of Constanta.
But their holidays came to an abrupt end at the end of August when both were arrested after a knife fight in the Bucharest courthouse. When we visit the same building, we must pass through a metal detector, and no one manages to explain how the brothers were able to bring in the knives they allegedly used.When the Camataru case is tried in court at the beginning of September, a crowd gathers outside the courtroom consisting of around thirty of the gang’s members plus Claudia, Ion Balint’s 27-year-old wife, who holds on tightly to her Louis Vuitton bag.This time, the Camataru brothers don’t manage to wangle their way to freedom. The court decides to detain them.