A total of 1027 people have been arrested in the largest-ever co-ordinated operation against organised crime in the European Union, code-named Operation Archimedes, EU police agency Europol said on September 24.
Of the total arrested, 187 were in Bulgaria, of whom 127 had already been formally charged with crimes, local media said.
Between September 15 and 23, law enforcement authorities from 34 countries, co-ordinated and supported by Europol from its headquarters in The Hague, joined forces in the operation, the police agency said.
The operation targeted organised crime groups and their infrastructures across the EU in a series of actions in hundreds of locations, with the co-operation of Eurojust, Frontex and Interpol.
“Operation Archimedes is a milestone in attempts by the law enforcement community to deliver concerted action against organised crime groups in Europe,” Europol director Rob Wainwright said.
“The scale of the operation is unprecedented and the outcome, with over 1000 arrests made across Europe, a reminder to even the most serious criminal groups that the international law enforcement community is determined to combat their illegal activities.”
Focussed on disrupting the activities of the most threatening criminal groups and top targets active in key crime hotspots across Europe, the intelligence-led Operation Archimedes saw the participation of law enforcement officers from all 28 EU member states as well as Australia, Colombia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and the US (ICE and CBP).
In the largest period of joint action days held so far in the EU, raids “and other interventions” took place in hundreds of locations including airports, border-crossing points, ports and specific crime hot spots in towns and cities all of which had featured variously in Europol’s SOCTA1, criminal intelligence reports from EU member states and third countries and analytical products drawn from Europol’s criminal databases.
Europol said that the results from the operational actions included:
* 1027 individuals arrested
* 599 kg of cocaine and 200 kg of heroin seized
* 1.3 tons of cannabis seized
* 30 children saved from trafficking.
In parallel, investigators targeted the key infrastructures used by criminal groups, the use of the internet as a facilitator for crime, and the illicit movement of criminal proceeds using money transfer systems.
In co-operation with Frontex and EU member states, about 10 000 irregular migrants were checked which also led to the arrest of criminals facilitating illegal immigration. In total in the overall operation, 170 facilitators were arrested and important intelligence was gathered, Europol said.
While Operation Archimedes may be over it is clear that the huge operational activity will provide many leads which will, in turn, direct further investigations and arrests, the police agency said.
Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security said that in the course of the operation, a British citizen was arrested in Kyustendil for putting online material depicting sexual violence against children.
(Photo: Bart Groenhuizen/sxc.hu)