The Polish Police Central Bureau of Investigation, with the help of Dutch and German police, has identified and shut down a major supplier of chemicals intended to be made into synthetic drugs in the Netherlands. The cross-border operation saw law enforcement working together to seize tonnes of chemicals, arrest members of a drugs ring and shut down drug production labs. More than 300 law enforcement officers took part in a joint action day which was planned with the support of Europol.
Police seize chemicals, weapons and stolen vehicles
From the beginning Europol assisted Germany, the Netherlands and Poland with their investigations by providing analytical and specialist support as well as the organising operational meetings.
Police in the Netherlands conducted searches in 17 different locations, arresting seven suspects and shutting down and seizing hardware from three laboratories. Dutch law enforcement also seized:
- more than 100 kg of MDMA crystals;
- a dozen litres of MDMA base;
- 1 000 litres of BMK and 30 litres of PMK (amphetamine precursors);
- 67 tonnes of different non-scheduled chemical substances;
- 4 weapons ready to fire;
- 50 bullets;
- numerous stolen vehicles.
In Poland, law enforcement arrested eight suspects and confiscated 17.48 tonnes of chemicals and 4 kg of amphetamine paste. In Germany, 7.2 tonnes of chemicals intended to be used to make synthetic drugs were also seized. Some of the encrypted phones used by the gang members were also confiscated by law enforcement during the action day.
From Poland to the Netherlands via Germany
Polish law enforcement had been gathering information on the drug traffickers since 2016. During the investigation it was revealed that the drug trafficking ring transported around two tonnes of chemicals from Poland to different addresses in the south of the Netherlands up to three times a week.
It was suspected that the chemicals were then transported from the storage locations to one or several unidentified addresses in the Netherlands where the illicit production of synthetic drugs took place.
The suspects first obtained non-scheduled chemicals legally (sodium hydroxide, formic acid, phosphor, and acetone) in Poland. These chemicals can be used for the illicit production of amphetamines, MDMA and methamphetamine. They then acquired additional non-scheduled chemicals and temporarily stored them in Germany.
In April 2018, after a long investigation and collection of evidence against the organised crime group (OCG) active mainly in the Netherlands, Poland and (to a lesser extent) Germany, a joint action day took was launched. Simultaneous searches in identified locations, as well as arrests of OCG members were conducted by Dutch, German and Polish Police in the respective countries.
On the action day, Europol provided direct support when dismantling one of the illegal laboratories discovered in the Netherlands, as well as analytical support with a mobile office on-the-spot in Poland.
Before the action day, thanks to the close cooperation (controlled delivery) between Member States, one more MDMA laboratory was discovered in the Netherlands. The Dutch National Police seized approximately 125 kg of MDMA, 43 litres of liquid MDMA and a vast amount of chemicals confirmed to be transported from Poland.
In 2010 the European Union set up a four-year Policy Cycle to ensure greater continuity in the fight against serious international and organised crime. In 2017 the Council of the EU decided to continue the EU Policy Cycle for the 2018 - 2021 period. It aims to tackle the most significant threats posed by organised and serious international crime to the EU. This is achieved by improving and strengthening cooperation between the relevant services of EU Member States, institutions and agencies, as well as non-EU countries and organisations, including the private sector where relevant. Drug trafficking is one of the priorities for the Policy Cycle.