Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024
The Hague, 23 June 2023

Eurojust and Europol have supported judicial and law enforcement authorities in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands in dismantling a network of drug traffickers composed mainly of Albanian nationals. During a joint action, 35 suspects were arrested and 51 places were searched in the countries involved. More than 600 police officers were involved in the operation. Eurojust assisted the authorities in setting up and funding a joint investigation team (JIT) into the case.

The criminal network is allegedly responsible for the large-scale trafficking of cocaine and cannabis from South America to Europe and its further distribution across the European Union. They are also known for the use of violence, including episodes of torture and kidnapping for the purpose of extortion.

The perpetrators were able to draw on significant financial resources allegedly obtained from previous drug trafficking activities. They had several logistic bases where the narcotic substances and the proceeds of the crime were stored and where the associates could meet. They also possessed an extensive fleet of vehicles equipped with sophisticated hidden compartments, cell phones equipped with encrypted texting applications and other utilities.

According to the investigation, the criminal network carried out at least 36 imports totalling 1 tonne of cocaine and 1 tonne of hashish between March 2020 and June 2021. These substances would have generated more than EUR 1 billion on the distribution market. More than EUR 1 million in cash was also seized during the course of the investigation.

The proceeds of the crime were shared among the members of the network according to their respective roles. In Germany, some suspects owned a luxurious restaurant, a bar and a real estate agency that were allegedly used to launder money from the drug trafficking activities.

The case was opened at Eurojust in September 2021 at the request of the German authorities. A JIT was set up between the German and Italian authorities with the support of Eurojust in July 2022. Two coordination meetings were hosted by the Agency to facilitate judicial cooperation and to prepare for the joint action day. A coordination centre was set up to enable rapid cooperation between the judicial authorities involved in the action day.

Europol’s Serious Organised Crime Centre has supported the case since the end of 2020, since which time it has exchanged more than 250 secure messages with the authorities involved. Extensive analytical support allowed for the identification of the key targets and the mapping of their criminal activities around the globe. A number of operational meetings were organised by Europol, either at its headquarters in The Hague or abroad. In addition, two Europol officers were deployed on the ground in Germany and Italy during the action day to support the authorities with their investigative measures. A secure communication platform was also set up by Europol during the action day to allow the real-time exchange of tactical information among the different law enforcement authorities involved.
The investigation, and the set-up of the joint action day itself, has been supported by the @ON Network funded by the European Union (Internal Security Funds Project ‘ISF4@ON’) and led by the Italian Antimafia Investigation Directorate (DIA).

The following authorities took part in this investigation:
  • Germany: PPO Frankfurt, PPO Gießen, Criminal Investigation Office Frankfurt (Department K 62) of the Police Headquarters Frankfurt am Main, Regional Criminal Investigation Office Friedberg (Narcotics Department / K 34) of  the Police Headquarters of Central Hesse and, supporting the execution of the measures on the Action Day, special forces of the Federal State (Bund) and of the states of Saarland and Hesse and task forces of the riot police units of Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate and the municipal police of the City of Frankfurt am Main
  • Italy: PPO Bologna; Polizia di Stato, Squadra Mobile from Forlí and Modena, with operational support from the Central Operational Service (SCO) of the Central Anti-Crime Directorate (DAC)
  • The Netherlands: National PPO (Landelijk Parket) Team International Cooperation (LIRC – IRC-LE), Dutch National Police, Eenheid Amsterdam and Landelijke Eenheid

Source – Europol

Forward to your friends