Focal points (FPs) are within the Europol Analysis System – an information processing system - and focus on certain crime areas from commodity-based, thematic or regional angles, e.g. drugs trafficking, Islamist terrorism, Italian organised crime.
Working with these focal points, Europol specialists can prioritise resources, ensure purpose limitation, and support EU law enforcement authorities and other partner organisations to tackle organised crime and terrorism through:
- analysing related information and intelligence, to obtain as much structured and concrete information as possible for law enforcement authorities to “hit” targets with;
- facilitating operational meetings between partners involved in cases;
- providing expertise and training to law enforcement authorities to support cases and share knowledge;
- deploying Europol mobile offices to the field for operations, giving live access to Europol’s secure information exchange network and databases;
- providing support for judicial cooperation and for the tackling of other related criminal activities uncovered in the course of investigations, such as money laundering.
FP Checkpoint supports the targeting and dismantling of organised criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling, focusing on geographical criminal hubs and hotspots.
Facilitating irregular migration into and within the EU is a highly attractive business for criminal networks and is the fastest growing criminal market in Europe, with most significant growth since 2015.
FP Phoenix is a dynamically developing operational project that deals with a rising number of new cases of trafficking in human beings. The focal point deals with different forms of exploitation, with current priority areas linked to sexual and labour exploitation, forced criminality and begging, forced marriages, child trafficking and human organ trafficking. Human trafficking is a serious crime that abuses an individual’s fundamental rights and dignity. Vulnerable people are exploited and traded as commodities by criminals for economic gain.
FP Cannabis supports the prevention and combating of criminal organisations’ activities in unlawful cannabis trafficking and production, as well as other related criminal activities.
Focal Point Cola is Europol’s team dedicated to tackling criminal organisations and networks suspected of producing, processing or trafficking cocaine, and its precursor chemicals and cutting agents.
FP Heroin supports the prevention and combating of heroin trafficking and production. Heroin-related investigations primarily target the criminal activities of Turkish and Pakistani organised crime groups, diverse heroin trafficking routes from the source country Afghanistan (via the Caucasus, Black Sea, Balkan route and Africa), as well as the flows of drug precursors.
FP Synergy is involved in cases related to synthetic drugs production and trafficking, and materials, equipment and precursors used in the process. Typical operations involve drugs such as Ecstasy/MDMA and amphetamine.
FP Copper supports the prevention and combating of crimes involving ethnic Albanian criminal groups and associated organised crime groups, and any related criminal activities.
Since 2001, FP EEOC has supported operational activities against Eastern European organised crime groups and their networks. In recent years, intelligence has shown how Eurasian organised crime groups have been moving onto European territory. FP EEOC have been able to successfully work with EU law enforcement authorities to arrest a large number of high-level professional criminals from the former Soviet Union who were enjoying elite positions within the criminal underworld.
FP ITOC supports cases investigating the criminal activities of Mafia-structured organised crime groups (OCG) that originate in Italy and impact other EU countries.
Outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMCGs) and their criminal activities are the specialist subject of FP Monitor. Although the Hells Angels, Bandidos and Outlaws are the most well-known and high-profile, all gangs suspected of committing criminal offences within Europol's mandate fall under the FP’s activities.
FP Weapons and Explosives deals with criminal organisations and individuals involved in the illegal manufacturing, possession and trafficking of small arms, light weapons, ammunition, parts and components, as well as explosives (military, commercial, pyrotechnics and improvised/homemade), explosives precursors, improvised explosive devices (parts and components), military ordnance (parts and components), chemical biological radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials and other dangerous substances that could be used as weapons.
FP Copy supports the prevention and combating of crimes involving intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement. This covers organised crime networks engaged in manufacturing and trading counterfeit products (except cigarette and tobacco products), products that infringe health and safety regulations (e.g. illicit pharmaceuticals, pesticides, substandard food and drinks), and online piracy.
FP Soya supports the fight against currency counterfeiting. Counterfeiting of the euro is the main priority of the focal point, but it also supports law enforcement agencies in targeting forgeries of other currencies such as the US dollar and pound sterling. This includes supporting the dismantling of distribution networks and identifying illegal currency print shops.
The unlawful manufacturing and smuggling of excise goods, such as tobacco and cigarettes, is the specialist area dealt with by Focal Point Smoke.
Focal Point MTIC (Missing Trader Intra Community Fraud) helps with identifying and dismantling organised criminal networks involved in cross-border VAT fraud, and the tracing and confiscating of the proceeds of MTIC fraud. MTIC is committed through a chain of linked companies when the fraudsters sell goods or services from one EU country to another, taking advantage of the fact that it is legitimate not to charge VAT on such cross-border transactions. When these transactions are conducted domestically on a Member State’s territory, VAT becomes chargeable. In these schemes, instead of declaring this tax to the fiscal authorities, those behind the company disappear with the tax collected from its customer.
FP Apate places a particular emphasis on countering CEO fraud, and also provides support in cases involving mass mailing and mass marketing fraud, romance scams, pyramid fraud, investment fraud, 149 fraud, acquisition fraud and fake invoice fraud, among others.
Organised property crime is one of the EMPACT priorities and Europol's operational activities in this field are carried out within Focal Point Furtum. Its broad mandate covers all aspects of property crime such as major burglaries, armed robberies (banks, jewellery, money transporters and depots), motor vehicle crimes, cargo crime, metal theft, organised pick pocketing.
FP Sports Corruption supports current investigations into sports corruption, including fraud and swindling, and associated criminal activities.
Focal Point Cyborg supports investigations into cyber criminality affecting critical computer and network infrastructures in the EU. Its particular focus is on cybercrimes by organised groups that generate large criminal profits. This covers a broad range of high-tech crimes such as malware (code creation and distribution), ransomware, hacking, phishing, intrusion, identity theft and internet-related fraud.
Each year, FP Terminal provides support for hundreds of investigations into international electronic and online payment fraud, which is a fast-growing market for the criminal networks involved.
The focal point helps ensure an effective response to new threats and the criminal networks by working with law enforcement, the private sector and regulators such as the European Central Bank and national banks, to help ensure customers' security and trust in electronic and online payments.
Focal Point Twins supports the prevention and combating of all forms of criminality associated with the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.
This covers the creation and distribution of child abuse material through all kinds of online environments, and other online criminal behaviour involving children such as grooming, self-generated indecent material, sexual extortion and live distant child abuse.
Europol’s Focal Point Sustrans was opened in 2001 and is currently one of the oldest and widest Focal Points at Europol. It provides support to EU Member States’ cross-border investigations into the money laundering activities of transnational criminal organisations. This has been done through the establishment of a pan-European platform to integrate, process and analyse all types of dedicated financial data (ongoing investigations, suspicious transaction reports, cash seizures, international transfers, etc). All 28 EU Member States and 52 Europol third partners are part of this project.
The main purpose of FP Asset Recovery is to support the tracing and identification of criminal proceeds linked to Europol’s mandated crime areas. This small team builds operational partnerships as well as strategic; by hosting the Camden Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network it helps to facilitate the freezing and confiscation of the proceeds of crime, and is involved in Asset Recovery Office working groups on virtual currencies and Centralised Bank account Registers.
Focal Point Travellers coordinates investigations into, and data analysis on, foreign terrorist fighters, and supports law enforcement efforts to counter foreign fighters when they return to Europe or the US from i.e. Syria or Iraq.In response to the concerted efforts of EU Member States, with Europol’s help, the amount of data on foreign terrorist fighters within FP Travellers has increased substantially since early 2015.
The purpose of Focal Point Hydra is to support the prevention and combating of terrorism-related crimes against life, limb, personal freedom or property, and related criminal offences, perpetrated by individuals, groups, networks or organisations who evoke Islam to justify their actions.