On 7 April 2015, Europol supported the French Central Office for Combating Organised Crime (OCLCO) and French Judicial Police in an operation to tackle an organised crime network active in property crime in a wide area of eastern France. The criminal group was formed by Russian-speaking individuals and controlled by a thieves-in-law clan. * Investigations revealed that the network had carried out hundreds of property crimes and had been operating for at least 12 months.
During the joint operational actions, which started simultaneously on 7 April in various locations in France, 24 suspects were arrested in Besançon, Mulhouse, Nancy, Nevers and Lyon. Police carried out house searches and seized significant evidence including EUR 52 000 in cash, three firearms and ammunition, various other weapons, stolen luxury goods and jewellery, several false EU identity and travel documents, as well as different tools used for burglaries.
Operation Vauban started one year ago and has been supported by Europol through the facilitation of extensive intelligence exchange, operational analysis and cross-match reports. On the action day, two Europol officers provided on-the-spot support with Europol mobile offices at two locations in France, delivering real-time cross-checks of all data as it was gathered.
Since 2001, Europol has strongly supported EU Member States' operations to tackle eastern European organised crime groups through its dedicated team of specialists in Focal Point EEOC.
*Thieves-in-law are high-level professional criminals from the former Soviet Union who enjoy elite positions within the organised crime environment and act as coordinators and decision-makers in the criminal underworld.