Mobile organised crime groups (MOCGs) are active in many crime areas, and move quickly around within and across multiple jurisdictions. It is this that makes it tough to tackle them. Europol works with law-enforcement agencies within and outside the EU to identify and dismantle the networks behind these MOCGs.
Primarily involved in property crime or fraud, MOCGs focus on such activities as:
- robberies, including armed robberies
- organised shoplifting and pick pocketing
- cash-machine and cash-in-transit attacks
- the theft of a range of high-value items (see below).
Europol has supported numerous operations against this broad array of activities. In partnership with law-enforcement authorities both within and outside the EU, it uses an equally broad array of methods that:
- serve as the primary platform for the exchange of information and intelligence—sometimes with the use of Europol’s Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA)
- help improve the exchange of operational knowledge;
- enhance cross-border cooperation and support cross-border operations;
- enable the delivery of expertise, and analytical and on-the-spot operational support;
- make use of new tools and techniques;
- identify emerging MOCGs, common targets and their activities (modi operandi);
- facilitate the issuance of early warnings on MOCGs and their activities.
At the operational level, Europol and its international partners within and outside the EU have focused in recent years on:
- cutting off illicit money flows;
- making multiple, coordinated arrests, often in simultaneous raids carried out across several jurisdictions;
- seizing illegally obtained assets, such as:
- drugs, including cocaine, MDMA and synthetic drugs
- metals, including those used in communications and rail networks
- forged documents, including passports
- vehicles, trucks and heavy machinery from construction sites
- high-value bicycles
- other high-value items, even including rhino horn.
- This dual methodological and operational focus has led to successes in numerous international operations in recent years.
For instance, Europol has:
helped German law enforcement fill intelligence gaps in a multi-year operation designed to strengthen cross-border operational cooperation in the fight against MOCGs from the Baltic Sea Region—an operation that led to the following successes:
- the dismantling of 72 MOCGs
- the degradation of capabilities in another 15
- the identification of 1 890 suspects
- the issuance of 575 arrest warrants
- the arrest of 382 individuals
supported a major police operation led by Germany, and including the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden, that dealt a significant blow to Eurasian MOCGs, with:
- raids in 9 countries in over 130 locations;
- the arrest of about 100 people;
- the seizure of forged documents, including passports;
- the seizure of firearms, drugs and hundreds of items stolen in burglaries and robberies
- 679 arrests
- The seizure 3 tonnes of cocaine and 50 kg of synthetic drugs, and almost 3 tonnes of other drugs.
These successes notwithstanding, Europol will continue to work with its international partners to explore further methodological and operational possibilities for tackling and dismantling MOCGs.