Supported and co-ordinated by Eurojust, today, police, gendarmerie officers and prosecutors in five countries ran an operation against several sophisticated criminal networks involved in cargo theft on EU highways. The operation was aimed at groups of organised criminals that targeted trucks stopping on parking lots located along the highways, and took place during the night when the drivers were asleep.
France initiated the case and estimated that more than 70 thefts took place starting in 2010 until March 2011 on French soil, incurring a loss of approximately 3 million Euro. Having begun at local level, very soon the case expanded to national level, where it is being investigated by the French National Gendarmerie (SR Limoges and OCLDI) under the lead of the JIRS of Bordeaux, and also at European level.
The countries involved in the operation are France, Hungary, Germany, Romania and Austria. In total, 22 suspected criminals were arrested and 13 European Arrest Warrants were issued. Approximately 20 house searches were conducted on different premises and dwellings in the participating countries, resulting in the recovery of a large quantity of evidence and stolen goods.
The investigators uncovered the sophisticated modus operandi of the criminal network. Several teams were operating in France, stealing high- value goods. Austria was occasionally a transit country. Germany was used for logistics and a meeting place to exchange trucks. Hungary is the location of the principal organiser and also the storage place for the stolen goods. Romania is the country of origin of most of the members of this criminal organisation.
After the action, Mr Mahrez Abassi, Deputy National Member for France, commented:
“This investigation could not have succeeded without the support of Eurojust and Europol, which made possible the co-ordination of the investigations in the five participating countries. For the first time in an important case of theft with a particular transnational dimension, Eurojust provided all the judicial authorities of the five countries involved with a “Co-ordination Centre”, run by the French Desk and supported by the Eurojust Case Management Team, with the presence of a Liaison Officer of the French Bureau at Europol. It was operational during the entire day at Eurojust. Equipped with communication tools especially dedicated to this case, the Co-ordination Centre allowed a real time transmission and co-ordination of information between the investigators and judicial authorities in the five participating countries.”