French Gendarmerie, supported by Europol, have hit Moldovan crime networks involved in organised property crime in the Paris, Brittany and Normandy areas of France. The action 'Operation Capalest', carried out in the early hours of 22 June 2014, resulted in 10 arrests which included the supervisors and controllers of the criminal groups. In addition, dozens of house and vehicle searches led to the recovery of stolen property, the value of which is currently being evaluated.
The organised criminal groups in question are known to have transported the cash and property they stole - such as jewellery, boat engines and expensive racing bicycles - from France back to Romania and Moldova using minibuses.
Previous phases of the operation saw the arrest of 37 suspects. More arrests are expected, and operational activities will continue, as the searches and interviews already undertaken have turned up a wealth of valuable intelligence.
The French investigation units (Section de Recherches de Rennes and the Central Office for Combating Itinerant Criminality) cooperated with international law enforcement colleagues in Romania (Intelligence and Internal Protection Department and the Border Police) and in Moldova (National Inspectorate for Investigations). Moldovan authorities attached great importance to the case, which resulted in fruitful bilateral intelligence exchange with the French Gendarmerie and then the dispatch of an organised crime officer to Paris for the duration of the action phase. The operation also benefited from on-the-spot assistance from the Moldovan liaison officer to Europol. Two Romanian officers also contributed to the intelligence and evidence exchange, and to the success of the operational measures carried out in Paris and Rennes.
Europol provided continuous support throughout the investigation by facilitating the development of intelligence and crime analysis, and providing financial support for the operational activities. Europol also provided on-the-spot support with a mobile office as well as supporting the action day from Europol headquarters in The Hague.