Between March and May 2012, members of an Albanian organised crime network were arrested in a coordinated action involving France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy, with the support of Eurojust and Europol. The network is suspected of heroin and cocaine trafficking from the Netherlands to France and Italy and laundering of the money received as proceeds of the crime.
The French authorities arrested three members of the organised criminal network in France early on the morning on 23 March 2012. The suspects were on their way from the Netherlands to France, transporting 2,6 kilograms of heroin in their automobile. On the next day, 24 March, one of the leaders of the network was arrested at the border between France and Switzerland. The action led to additional arrests and several house searches in France and the Netherlands. A total of 17 persons have been arrested and almost 12 kilograms of heroin have been seized.
In France, the investigation is being carried out by the Section de recherches of theGendarmerie nationale of Rennes, supported by the Gendarmerie of Ile et Vilaine and Cotes d’Armor, under the supervision of the specialised interregional court (JIRS) of Rennes. On the action day, simultaneous arrests were carried out with the support of the Gendarmerie of Nord and Rhone Alpes.
In Italy, in May 2012, 13 arrest warrants were executed by the police officers of theGruppo d’Investigazione sulla Criminalità Organizzata (G.I.C.O.) of the Guardia di Finanza of Florence, under the supervision of the District Antimafia Prosecutor’s Office (D.D.A.) of Florence. The investigations started about a year ago and benefited from the coordination and technical and operational support provided by the Central Directorate for Anti-Drug Services, the Comando Generale of the Guardia di Finanza, and the Servizio Centrale di Investigazione sulla Criminalità Organizzata (S.C.I.C.O.) of the Guardia di Finanza, which provided to the police in Florence, among other things, the efficient and continuous exchange of operational information with their police counterparts in France and the Netherlands. The operation led to the seizure, in Italy, of a total of 15 kilograms of cocaine (including approximately 7 kilograms in Florence and 8 kilograms in Turin) and 4 kilograms of heroin (including 3,5 kilograms in Poggio Imperiale (Foggia) and 0,5 kilograms in Florence).
Coordinated action was agreed upon during a meeting held at Eurojust. The very swift and flexible organisation of the network required an intensive round-the-clock exchange of information for almost two weeks between competent national authorities..
The Operational Coordination Centre was set up on 23 March 2012 in Eurojust, with the support of its Case Analysis Unit, to exchange information on the arrests, house searches and seizures in real time and keep all the participants updated on the developments of the actions in different countries. Europol supported the simultaneous actions by cross-matching, analysing and linking emerging data sent to the Operational Coordination Centre.
One of the EU crime priorities is to fight against organised crime originating from the Western Balkans. The geographical position of the Western Balkans and the widely spread diaspora are, among others, used to facilitate the illegal activities affecting Member States. Organised crime is using the well-established connection of the Balkan routes to traffic drugs and other commodities from Asia and South America via Africa to the European market. The diaspora ensures the distribution and trade of products throughout the European Union. The Member States and EU law enforcement and judicial authorities are now focusing on the priority to mitigate the role of the Western Balkans as a key transit and storage zone for illicit commodities destined for the European Union and logistical centre for organised crime groups, including Albanian-speaking organised crime groups.
For more information, please contact:
Mr Joannes THUY
Spokesperson – Head of Press & PR Service
Tel: +31 70 412 5508
Mr Søren Kragh PEDERSEN
Chief of Media and Public Relations
Tel: +31 70 302 5001