Europol has coordinated a joint investigation by the Spanish National Police (UDYCO Costa del Sol) and the Polish Police (Polish Central Bureau of Investigation) to dismantle a criminal group involved in drugs smuggling. The gang, which was operating in Costa del Sol (Spain), was largely known by the Polish Police for having committed serious crimes in Poland. The investigation, which took place over three different phases, also saw the participation of the Danish and French Police.
In total, 23 individuals were arrested (12 Polish, 7 Spanish, 2 Ukrainians, 1 Lithuanian and 1 German), and over one tonne of hashish was seized. The involved law enforcement authorities have also seized properties in Spain and Poland worth EUR 2 million, bank accounts and vehicles with an approximate value of EUR 137 000, together with EUR 45 000 in cash, firearms and documentation.
The arrestees belonged to a criminal group named ‘’PRUSZKOW’ dedicated to drugs smuggling and other serious crimes such as murder, extortion and kidnapping. This criminal group was partially dismantled in Poland at the end of the 1990s and its members charged with 12-15 years of imprisonment.
During a coordinated action carried out by the Spanish and Polish Police on 12 July 2016, with the support of Europol, 7 houses were searched in Spain and 6 in Poland simultaneously. As a result, the criminal organisation was completely taken down and assets of EUR 5 million were seized in both countries. The Spanish authorities seized more than EUR 30 000 and USD 2 100 in cash, together with 4 luxury vehicles, small amounts of marihuana and hashish, a shotgun, IT material, documentation, geolocation devices, and several evidence materials. Meanwhile, the Polish authorities seized notarised documents of various properties worth EUR 1. 4 million and different notarial and bank documents related to properties, bank transfers and shares. Firearms and ammunition were also seized.
Europol has supported the investigations from the early phases by facilitating the exchange of information and operational meetings at the international level. During the action day on 12 July, two Europol experts were deployed to Málaga (Spain) equipped with a mobile office. This allowed for real –time exchange of information and cross-checks of the data gathered in the course of the action against Europol’s databases.
The investigations began after information gathered by the Spanish and Polish authorities pointed out to the presence in Málaga (Spain) of a criminal group, formed of mainly Polish nationals. This information was confirmed after the Danish and French Police intercepted two different drug shipments coming from Málaga (Spain) in April and May 2016 respectively.
During the first phase of the investigation (June 2016), the Spanish authorities seized 170 kilograms of hashish hidden in a van travelling from Málaga to Poland and arrested the driver and two accomplices. After carrying out a search in the gang’s warehouse, 6 persons were arrested and over 1 100 kg of hashish, 3 vehicles and 1 motorbike seized, together with mobile phones, computers and documentation. During the second phase of the investigation (July 2016), a Spanish criminal group illegally providing the Polish gang under investigation with marijuana was also dismantled. In total, 17 kg of marijuana, 4 vehicles, EUR 8 070 in cash, mobile phones and computer equipment were seized.