Synthetic drug precursor trafficking network broken up

03 April 2014
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An international organised crime network, responsible for the supply of key precursors to the European Union for the production of synthetic drugs, has been broken up following an extensive operation by European law enforcement authorities.

The investigation led to the arrest of eight major players within the group and the dismantling of the criminal network that had been active in the European Union for several years. Authorities in Romania, Austria and the Netherlands seized 600 kg of APAAN  and 425 kg of PMK glycidate  mixed with piperonal. This amount would have produced around 1.5 million MDMA (ecstasy) pills and 400 kg of amphetamine. 

The operation, targeting a criminal network responsible for large-scale drugs (pre)precursor trafficking, was started by Romanian authorities back in 2012. Law enforcement agencies from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and Slovenia supported the case, with Europol facilitating cooperation between the agencies, right through to conclusion in early 2014. During the investigation it was identified that the group’s key players organised deliveries of PMK glycidate and APAAN from China, via Romania and other EU countries, to the Netherlands from where their business was run.

During the investigation law enforcement carried out several coordinated activities, involving Europol and the seven EU Member States, which revealed that the group trafficked at least 10.4 tonnes of APAAN and 650 kg of PMK glycidate and piperonal into the EU in 2012-2013.

Europol supported the investigation through the exchange of criminal intelligence, international operational coordination and operational analysis.

1 Alpha-phenylacetoacetonitrile – precursor used for production of amphetamine and methamphetamine. 2 Methyl 3- [3'4'-(methylenedioxy)phenyl]-2-methyl glycidate – pre-precursor synthesised from piperonal which can be relatively easily converted to PMK, a key precursor used for MDMA (ecstasy) production.