Moscow unlicensed cabbie 'gave victims spiked oranges'

image copyrightRussian Interior Ministry
image captionPolice video shows oranges beside the suspect's driving wheel

Police in Moscow have arrested an unlicensed taxi driver for robbing passengers after drugging them with spiked oranges and alcoholic drinks.

The driver, 51, is accused of knocking his passengers out with a sleeping drug, then driving to a cemetery where he would rob and abandon them.

Two victims subsequently died, Russia's interior ministry said.

Gold jewellery, mink fur coats, laptops, mobile phones and bank cards were recovered from the suspect's flat.

Police video shows the suspect being arrested and interrogated on a snowy road by armed police.

image copyrightRussian Interior Ministry
image captionThe suspect's arrest was filmed by police
image copyrightRussian Interior Ministry
image captionVictims were found in a cemetery in Obukhovo

The driver, who is originally from Rostov region in southern Russia, is suspected of involvement in eight robberies in the Moscow region, to a total value of 700,000 roubles (£8,600; $10,800), the ministry said on its website (in Russian).

Passengers who got into his vehicle would allegedly be offered a mandarin or a drink that had been spiked beforehand.

Unconscious, they would then allegedly be abandoned in a cemetery at Obukhovo, near the town of Noginsk, to the east of the capital.

image copyrightRussian Interior Ministry
image captionPolice showed off fur coats allegedly found in the suspect's flat
image copyrightRussian Interior Ministry
image captionOther valuables were found in the suspect's flat, police said

The suspect remains in custody as police continue their investigations, the ministry says.

Unlicensed taxis - cars simply flagged down in the street by customers who then negotiate a price - have been a feature of life in urban Russia since Soviet times despite efforts to regulate the market.

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