The Italian Carabinieri Corps (NAS Carabinieri), supported by Europol, targeted a criminal network trafficking illegal medicines and doping substances.
On the action day on 14 May 2020, Italian law enforcement authorities arrested four suspected traffickers. The Carabinieri carried out 210 house searches targeting 74 competitive athletes registered to sports federations, 11 gym owners and 4 owners of food supplement stores, located all over Italy. Italian authorities are investigating another 64 individuals for their suspected involvement in the criminal activities; 30 others have been charged with less serious crimes. The seizures included 936 packs of medicines used for doping purposes, 4 437 tablets and 7 778 vials of various doping products for a total estimated value of more than €100 000.
The operation was a follow-up of a previous investigation into bodybuilders from Turin who were found in possession of a large amount of anabolic drugs, which were advertised on mobile apps. When first using the app, the potential clients were directed to an encrypted chat to complete the purchase. All payments were made via money transferring services. The packages were then shipped through express courier services, who were unaware of their contents.
Europol supported the operation by facilitating information exchange and providing analytical support. On the action day, Europol activated the Virtual Command Post at its headquarters to coordinate the action and facilitate live information exchange. This tool was used also to cross-check operational information in real-time against Europol’s databases and provide leads to investigators in the field.