Supported and co–ordinated by Eurojust, with the help of Europol, judicial, police and customs officers today conducted a simultaneous operation in five countries against a sophisticated criminal organisation involved in money laundering of the proceeds of drug trafficking.
The initial investigation of this highly complicated case began in March 2010 by the French National Police (DIPJ) and Judicial Customs officers (SNDJ), under the leadership of the JIRS of Bordeaux, involving France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. Other national authorities and contact points involved in the case are the Prosecutor of Essen, the German BKA, the Landelijk Parket of Rotterdam, the Dutch National Crime Squad (KLPD), the Belgian Judicial Federal Police and Prosecution Service of Brussels, a Judge of the Audiencia Nationale of Spain, and UDYCO in Madrid.
A random control by the SNDJ of a Spanish vehicle driven by a Spanish national on French territory in March 2010 uncovered a large quantity of banknotes, subsequent testing on which revealed significant traces of cocaine.
In total, six suspects were arrested and more than eight European Arrest Warrants were issued against German, Dutch, Colombian, Lebanese and Turkish nationals suspected of being active members of this large and highly complex network linked to the smuggling of drugs. Ten simultaneous house and company searches were conducted in the five involved countries, resulting in the seizure of a large body of evidence and mobile telephones, luxury watches and jewellery, bank, real estate, diplomatic and administrative documents and computers.
For the first time in the history of the co–operation between Eurojust and Europol, a co–ordination centre was set up at Eurojust with a mobile office manned by a Europol analyst. Eurojust provided support to the judicial authorities in the five countries during the entire day, using communication tools especially dedicated to this case, and allowing the real–time transmission and co–ordination of information between investigative and judicial authorities as well as relevant analysis of the emerging data. The co–ordination centre was run by the Eurojust French Desk and supported by the Eurojust Case Analysis Unit, with valuable support from the Europol analyst.
The Eurojust Case Analyst, Mr Peter Gouwy, said, "Eurojust was able to prepare the joint action at a co–ordination meeting held at Eurojust in May. We were able to analyse the judicial requirements and provide all the logistical and technical analysis necessary for this highly successful operation. The presence of the Europol mobile office at Eurojust was a significant added value to today’s operation. We look forward to further co–operation with Europol when dealing with complex cases such as this one."
By linking a computer directly via secure link to the databases at Europol real–time analysis was provided. Europol did also provide additional technical support on the spot in the Netherlands.