Europol has supported a joint investigation between Romania and France to dismantle a Romanian criminal network involved in metal theft in France. According to investigations, the total estimated losses could amount to EUR 1.2 million.
Operation Cambri is a follow-up action of an operation initiated in France two years ago which led to the arrest in January 2015 of 10 members of an organised crime group suspected of large-scale metal theft in France. This operation targeted the members of this organised crime syndicate responsible for the fencing and selling of the stolen metals.
On 18 May, officers from the Romanian Police, together with the French Gendarmerie, carried out 10 simultaneous house searches throughout the country (provinces of Ilfov, Teleorman and Galati). As a result, 3 suspects were arrested and a variety of evidence seized, including 300kg of ferromolybdenum (iron alloy) cash and documents.
Europol supported the investigation with data analysis, information exchange and by facilitating two operational meetings. On the action day, two dedicated Europol analysts were deployed to Bucharest, equipped with a mobile office and a Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED). Information gathered during the operation was analysed and exchanged in real time and immediately cross-matched against Europol's databases.
Metal theft can have a devastating impact on businesses, communities and individuals. This includes the loss of key services such as telecommunications and power, disruption of rail networks and the desecration of religious buildings and memorials. In most cases, the overall damage caused by metal theft far exceeds the value of the stolen metal itself - experts estimate it to be 50 times the value of the stolen metal.
Intelligence shows that the stolen metal is often transported across several borders and sold as scrap, or for recycling, far away from the scene of the crime.