Arrests in Heraklion. Major blow to mobile organised crime groups
In a major international police operation supported by Europol yesterday, 950 law enforcement officers in nine countries raided 138 properties and arrested 100 individuals, delivering a major blow to Eurasian mobile organised crime groups operating in Europe.
Two further individuals were indentified as the main targets and European Arrest Warrants have been issued for their arrests. These two suspects are thought to be responsible for the mass production and forgery of mainly Czech, Romanian and Bulgarian passports, identity cards and counterfeit drivers’ licences. These documents were used by hundreds of Eurasian criminals throughout Europe, to regularise their stays in the EU, claim welfare benefits and commit other offences, ranging from thefts and robberies to racketeering and violent crime.
As a result of yesterday’s coordinated action in the participating countries:
- 100 individuals were arrested (Austria 1; France 28; Germany 4; Greece 6; Portugal 1; Romania 1; Spain 49; Sweden 10)
- 138 properties were searched (Austria 4; France 35; Germany 37; Greece 5; Portugal 5; Spain 41; Sweden 11)
The following items were seized:
- 57 forged documents (Austria 1; France 5; Germany 13; Greece 2; Portugal 3; Romania 5; Spain 26; Sweden 2)
- Five firearms
- EUR 26 000
- Drugs (amphetamine and cannabis – 1.9 kg)
- 1200 packs of counterfeit cigarettes
- One stolen vehicle
- Over 300 pieces of jewellery and watches
- Burglary tools.
The action day also led to the identification of the perpetrators of 29 burglaries in Spain and at least three burglaries in Germany.
The two main suspects were charging between EUR 250 and 1500 per ID document they supplied, which was paid in advance by bank transfer through various financial service providers. The forgeries were sent by mail, and later by courier, to various recipients in several European countries. Up until April 2014, these two suspects are thought to have been responsible for dispatching at least 300 packets throughout Europe.
The operation was led by German law enforcement authorities, with Europol providing support since early 2013. This support included information and intelligence exchange and analysis, providing expertise, and financing of operational meetings. For yesterday’s action, Europol experts were present with mobile offices in Madrid, Munich and Paris. Authorities in the Czech Republic and Romania also supported the operation yesterday with real-time checks of information and intelligence.