Six were arrested after law enforcement from five EU Member States jointly acted against an international criminal organisation trafficking to and across Europe. The arrests took place in Romania, Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The organised crime group has taken a serious hit as a result of these joint actions.
The initial investigation started in February 2016 with several Romanian truck drivers were caught smuggling cocaine into the United Kingdom. This traffic was quickly linked to an international crime group trafficking cocaine between South America and Europe, with links to Germany, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Romania. After coordination meetings were held at Eurojust and Europol, several parallel investigations were initiated in the involved Member States.
Due to the excellent international cooperation this past years, law enforcement was able to identify the suppliers, buyers and lorry drivers. During the initial stages of the investigations, intelligence about the crime group was gathered and 35 kilos of cocaine, 200 kilos of cannabis and 54 kilos of ketamine were seized.
All involved partners agreed on a joint action day with simultaneous arrests and house searches on 13 September 2017. During this action day, authorities were able to arrest 6 suspects and search 28 houses and premises.
The German Bundeskriminalamt and state police authorities of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, on behalf of the prosecutor’s office in Memmingen, arrested 3 suspects and searched 16 houses. Romanian authorities searched 10 houses and premises and put in place 2 European arrest warrants issued by Germany and Belgium. One arrest took place in the United Kingdom. Large amounts of money, mobile phones and other electronic devices were seized for further investigation.
The Economic Crime Group of the UCO together with the Judicial Police Organic Unit of Almería, of the Spanish Guardia Civil, have also carried out arrests, house searches and drug seizures (marijuana) in Spain throughout the research phase. The same goes for the Belgian federal judicial police of Leuven who has carried out house searches at an earlier stage.
Europol’s role was to coordinate these parallel investigations and facilitate information exchange between the involved Member States by analysing and crosschecking data, and organising several coordination meetings. During the action day, forensic support was provided during the house searches with the intention of analysing bulk data extracted from electronic devices and providing immediate results.