Europol Review 2014

Operation Archimedes

Charles Marchon,
Swiss liaison bureau

A crucial role from the immediate response

“In this kind of operation involving a large number of partners in many countries, a 24/7 coordination centre plays a key role. The ability to act swiftly and effectively is crucial. The ECC gave added value from the operational point of view. We have used this facility a couple of times, for instance on a human trafficking case. We had to urgently manage a specific question linked to operations in progress in Switzerland and in Romania. One cup of coffee later with the Romanian liaison officer at the ECC, and we were able to agree on a common strategy and provide our authorities with the requested support!”

Zoltán Nagy,
Business Manager Europol
Information Hub Unit

Running against the clock to support officers in the field

“The ECC was a special environment we had never before tested. However, the coordination centre largely contributed to establishing new bridges for the cooperation and support of field work. Some colleagues were working up to 7 or 8 shifts during the operation. And this was needed as hectic periods occurred regularly. For example, during one of the night shifts, we received a request from a Member State to check thousands of names. While running against the clock, Europol support enabled officers in the field to select and prioritise possible persons of interest that they had to deal with.”

Digenis Karousos,
Head of the Greek liaison bureau

An opportunity to handle sensitive cases in real time

“The ECC was impressive, well organised and gave us the opportunity to work together closely. We were able to experience how the authorities of different Member States were dealing with similar cases. The particular setting of the ECC gave us the opportunity to handle details of a sensitive drugs case in real time, working with officers from another Member State and specialists from Europol. Operation Archimedes was a clear message that Europe has the willingness and capabilities to fight crime jointly.”

Robert Crepinko,
Business Manager Europol
Organised Crime Networks Unit

A unique experience of working together

“It was an unique experience to see representatives from the Member States and other partners sitting together with Europol colleagues in the European Coordination Centre, providing real time support to officers in the field, not only in the EU, but much wider. All of us, working day and night, with the simple aim of fighting serious and organised crime together.”

Operation Archimedes (EMPACT Drivers)

Valuable cooperation at european level

Jouko Ikonen, Detective Inspector, National Bureau of Investigation – Finland

"We find the joint operational cooperation at European level very valuable. It’s great that Europol creates and coordinates it and we are committed to such cooperation in the future.”

Operation Archimedes

Operation Archimedes: 9 days, 24/7 coordination and analysis 24/7 Support from the IT Operational Center

Operation Archimedes: 9 days, 24/7 coordination and analysis

300 law enforcement officers based at Europol support the largest international operation targeting organised crime in Europe

For more than one week, between 15 and 23 September, Europol headquarters became the coordination centre for the largest police operation ever conducted against organised crime in Europe.

More than 300 specialists, analysts and liaison officers supported the operation focusing on eight priority areas. Operation Archimedes had a huge impact on the coordination of large law enforcement actions.

During the operation, criminals and criminal groups in a wide range of crime areas were targeted using a horizontal approach. This allowed law enforcement to target crime groups who were operating internationally and involved in polycriminal activities.

Nine days in the European Coordination Center (ECC)

A unique European Coordination Centre was set up at Europol to support and coordinate the operation. Workspace for the efficient exchange of information was provided to the delegations from 28 EU Member States, third states, Eurojust, Frontex and Interpol. During the nine days of the operation Europol analysts processed the incoming information on a 24/7 basis for use in field investigations.

24/7 Support from the IT Operational Center

24/7 Support from the IT Operational Center

For the operation, Europol’s ICT unit reconfigured the network infrastructure of the workspace to a layout never seen before. A large range of technical equipment was installed and configured: 160 PCs and laptops, 70 standard, secure and mobile phones and 11 on-the-spot supporting mobile offices, amongst others.

Stolen cars travelling on a cargo train to Tajikistan intercepted Stolen cars travelling on a cargo train to Tajikistan intercepted

Stolen cars travelling on a cargo train to Tajikistan intercepted

Stolen cars travelling on a cargo train to Tajikistan intercepted

Latvian law enforcement officers identified vehicles stolen from EU Member States on their way to Central Asia. Several individuals were arrested during the operation. The information collected during the investigation was used by the Latvian police to cooperate with law enforcement in Germany, Sweden and Poland, from where the cars were stolen. The exchange of information helped to identify additional members of the organised crime group, understand their modus operandi and disrupt their future activities.

100 fake IDENTITY documents seized 100 fake IDENTITY documents seized

100 fake IDENTITY documents seized

100 fake IDENTITY documents seized

100 stolen or blank Italian identity cards were seized by Greek law enforcement officers. The fraudulent documetnts had been transported by an Algerian man accompanied by an Afghan woman carrying a fraudulent French passport.

Counterfeit documents made from simple blanks are often used by facilitators to smuggle irregular migrants into the EU. They also serve for the secondary movements of the migrants once they’ve already arrived in one Member State. Through Operation Archimedes, Member States simultaneously addressed all three aspects of facilitated illegal immigration – illegal entry, secondary movements within the EU, and migrant status transition.

18 couriers arrested with cocaine concealed in their bodies img

18 couriers arrested with cocaine concealed in their bodies

Law enforcement authorities intercepted 18 individuals carrying condoms filled with cocaine in their stomachs. The couriers departed from Suriname, Curaçao and Brazil. During Operation Archimedes, local law enforcement authorities intercepted a courier carrying 3.67 kilograms of cocaine at the Rionegro International Airport in Antioquia, Columbia. Organised crime groups continue to rely heavily on individual couriers for smuggling smaller amounts of cocaine.

However, due to the low risk involved, their main method often involves shipments using containers and express parcel companies. With four million users consuming 124 tonnes of cocaine annually, Europe remains one of the largest markets.

Consignment of grenades and firearms seized Consignment of grenades and firearms seized

Consignment of grenades and firearms seized

Slovakian law enforcement authorities intercepted a cargo vehicle transporting a large number of grenades and firearms, which was trying to enter Slovak territory. The vehicle was travelling from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Sweden.

Many firearms trafficked in Europe come from the Western Balkans after being held illegally after recent conflicts in the area. In total, approximately 80 million civilian firearms are legally-held in the EU. Almost half a million lost or stolen firearms remain in the EU. In 2014, Europol opened a new operational Focal Point to support Member States in their fight against the trafficking of illicit firearms.

Cargo with 198 kilograms of heroin intercepted img

Cargo with 198 kilograms of heroin intercepted

Bulgarian Border Police intercepted a truck carrying 198 kilograms of heroin. The cargo documents detailed the vehicle’s destination and purpose of the trip: transporting goods from Turkey to Poland. The heroin was discovered in 34 false-bottomed boxes documented as containing towels.


Operation Archimedes also targeted excise tax fraud. In the UK, law enforcement authorities seized alcohol intended for distribution without paying excise duties.