Europol has supported The Italian Guardia di Finanza and D.C.S.A1. in an operation resulting in the seizure of over 13.5 tonnes of cannabis resin from a Panama-registered merchant vessel, and the arrest of 11 Ukrainian and Georgian crew members.
The operation was closely supported by the Spanish National Police and Vigilancia Aduanera (D.A.V.A.), M.A.O.C.-N2 , and the Hellenic Coast Guard.
Tactical teams from Guardia di Finanza intercepted and boarded the vessel ‘Munzur’ approximately 10 miles off the north-eastern shores of the island of Pantelleria on 2 December, and escorted it to the Italian Port of Palermo. From there, the Nucleo di Polizia Tributaria – G.I.C.O. – G.O.A3. began the investigation into the origin of the drugs and the criminal enterprise involved.
This operation builds on four successful actions against transnational drug trafficking in the Mediterranean Sea since June this year; these have led to a total seizure of nearly 60 tonnes of cannabis resin and the arrest of 46 individuals.
The actions fall under the complex international police operation Libeccio International. This involves various EU law enforcement agencies from EU Member States working together as a joint operational team (JOT) to tackle large-scale drug trafficking in the Mediterranean Sea. On this occasion, in Palermo the JOT brought together officials from Greece, Spain, and Europol, to ensure immediate follow-up of international investigative leads.
Europol continues to provide support to this international law enforcement partnership, launched by the forerunner unit of the Guardia di Finanza – Nucleo di P.T. di Palermo, by facilitating the exchange of intelligence between the key countries, subsequent criminal intelligence analysis, hosting and financially supporting operational meetings, and providing on-the-spot support.
1. Direzione Centrale per i Servizi Antidroga.
2. Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics.
3. Gruppo Investigazioni Criminalità Organizzata – Gruppo Operativo Antidroga.