International Operation “Ciconia Alba” Completed In Several European Airports, Including Heraklion and Chania
The EU Member States, EU bodies and third partners have once again joined forces with Europol in this year’s Operation CICONIA ALBA to counter organised crime networks involved in the priority crime areas.
Following the successful 2014 Archimedes and 2015 Blue Amber operations, Operation CICONIA ALBA is the third series of joint action days (JADs) covered by the 2013 – 2017 EU Policy Cycle targeting serious international and organised crime. Operation CICONIA ALBA focuses on key crime hot spots and key criminal infrastructures in the EU and beyond.
Liaison officers from the EU Member States and colleagues from other international partners coordinate the exchange of information and intelligence between national law enforcement authorities from a 24/7 operational coordination centre located at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague. Europol specialists and analysts provide support from the headquarters and also on the spot.
Operation CICONIA ALBA has already had a significant impact on the international criminal landscape. Within the context of the EU policy cycle priorities ‘trafficking in human beings’ and ‘facilitation of irregular migration’, law enforcement authorities participating in Operation CICONIA ALBA carried out a joint action day targeting labour exploitation.
As a result, 47 suspects were arrested for labour exploitation and 275 victims of exploitation were identified and safeguarded. 6 709 individuals, alongside 4 156 vehicles and 2 271 companies were controlled in dozens of key geographical hotspots (airports, border crossing points, etc.) where the likelihood of identifying potential victims of trafficking as well as human traffickers and migrant smugglers was high.
In addition, within the context of the EU policy cycle priority ‘cybercrime – payment card fraud’, law enforcement officers from all over the world arrested 140 fraudsters suspects found in possession of airline tickets bought using stolen or fake credit card details. Many of them were also found to be involved in other forms of crimes, including human trafficking, drug trafficking, cybercrime and terrorism. During the operation, 252 suspicious transactions were reported.
The multi-disciplinary approach of the operation enables law enforcement authorities to link together actions covering several different crime priorities and areas. This enhances the operational impact and ensures cost-effective cooperation between the law enforcement authorities involved.
The Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security (COSI) of the Council of the EU has provided strategic guidance to the planning of the JADs and is monitoring their implementation.