UAn unprecedented international operation, involving authorities from 11 countries, has resulted in the arrest of 44 suspected members of a criminal network considered one of the most dangerous in the European Union, Europol and Eurojust said on Friday.
“Several criminal organizations were working together to carry out large-scale polycriminal activities inside and outside the EU,” the European agencies, based in The Hague, said in a joint statement.
These include drug trafficking and money laundering, they said.
During the operation, which took place on Tuesday, coordinated by Europol and Eurojust, around 100 searches were carried out across Europe, targeting both the heads of these criminal organizations and their associates.
The network, which is also believed to be linked to major drug trafficking organizations outside the EU, operated in Lithuania, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Poland, France, Germany and Slovakia.
“The scale of drug trafficking attributed to the network is immense, with activities reported on three continents,” Europol and Eurojust said.
Large quantities of cocaine, hashish, cannabis and methamphetamine were seized.
“Very flexible, these criminals quickly adapted to new methods of drug trafficking in an attempt to evade law enforcement,” according to European agencies.
In particular, drug shipments were found in ships and trucks, well hidden in compartments.
“The criminal network was structured like a business, with different criminal groups and intermediaries working together across borders to control the entire chain of drug trafficking – from organizing huge drug shipments to distributing across Europe and beyond,” said Europol and Eurojust.
Cooperation between countries and European agencies has made it possible to adopt a common strategy to prepare for the final phase of the investigations and “bring down the whole network”, they said.