Tag Archives: Europol

Europol strikes traffic of minors

Europol supported a pan-European operation against trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation, forced begging and labour exploitation. The operation, led by the United Kingdom, involved law enforcement authorities from 15 EU member states, Iceland and Switzerland*Between 17 and 23 June 2019, over 127 000 individuals, 63 800 vehicles and 1 100 locations were checked. Law enforcement authorities searched private properties, commercial establishments, hotels, buses and train stations, ferry ports, airports and border crossings.

Prevention campaigns in schools to inform minors of the risks of human trafficking were also part of the operational activities. The overall results include 34 arrests for trafficking of human beings and 36 arrests for other offences such as robbery, dissemination of child sexual exploitation material and facilitation of illegal immigration. During the action days, 206 potential victims were identified, 53 of which were confirmed to be minors. These activities enabled the initiation of 31 new cases of human trafficking across the different participating countries.  

During the operation, experts in trafficking of human beings from law enforcement agencies, child protection officers, social workers, representatives of municipalities and non-governmental organisations joined efforts to identify potential victims and investigate cases of child trafficking. Europol facilitated the information exchange between the participating countries and analysed operational information against Europol’s databases to provide leads to investigators. 

 *The following countries participated to the Joint Action Days: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Spain: Traffic of rare animals dismantled

A Spanish criminal network trafficking rare animals has been dismantled by the Spanish Guardia Civil after more than 600 reptiles from the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania were found. Nine people have been arrested and seven, suspected members of the criminal network, are under investigation. (Image: illustration)

Members of the criminal group bought the animals from Australia, the Fiji Islands, Mexico, New Zealand, Oman and South Africa, then illegally transported them to Spain.

This operation was aided by Europol, which provided analytical and operational support to all Member States involved. Europol assisted Guardia Civil officers by deploying a team to Spain with a mobile office and UFED extraction capabilities on the internationally-coordinated action day, providing them with real-time intelligence analysis and forensic support. This helped to identify transnational links with other serious and organised crimes. Overall law enforcement authorities from 17 countries worldwide were involved in the operation.

Europol arrests travel ID criminal network

Europol reports arrests conducted by the Organised Crime Unit of the Hellenic Police (Greece) of 11 members of an international organised crime group involved in stealing and falsifying travel documents to facilitate for profit the movement of illegal third-country nationals through Europe.

During the course of this Europol-supported investigation, police officers identified members of the criminal organisation and the locations used to conceal the documents. The group stole documents from pedestrians, passengers on public transport and parked vehicles. The network also cooperated with others who illegally obtained travel documents belonging to third-country nationals. They then sold the documents on at prices based on the type of identity document, the country of issue and matching personal likeness of the original owner. Members of the group residing in France often forwarded genuine lost or stolen travel documents using international courier companies.

During an extensive operation in Attica, Greece, 11 members of the network were arrested, six of them Algerian nationals, three Syrian, one Tunisian and one from Palestine. Seven house searches were carried out and 939 travel documents were confiscated. 620 of these were recorded as lost or stolen in European databases. EUR 30000 in cash, a vehicle, forgery equipment, fraudulent documents, stamps, receipts for financial transactions and a large number of digital devices were also seized.

 

Europol: wildlife crimes

The Spanish Guardia Civil, with the support of Europol and in close cooperation with Mexico, has carried out Operation SUZAKU, resulting in 29 arrests in Spain and in other countries. All of the arrestees have been charged with crimes of smuggling, wildlife crime and animal abuses, as well as being part of a criminal infrastructure.

Over 2,000 animal were seized during Operation SUKAZU, and the expected benefits that could have been obtained by the trafficking of species have been estimated to be above half a million euro. International trafficking of species is identified as a priority in the fight against organised crime within the EU Policy Cycle for the next four years.

The organised crime group controlled a network of operators, who were transporting birds of a large variety of species to Spain from different places in Africa and Latin America by using mules. International collaboration has taken place with police authorities and other bodies from 18 different countries.

Using various concealment techniques, the criminal group trafficked birds that are classified under different types of protection and that were included in the CITES Convention and in the national protection laws of the countries of origin. Many of the birds died during the transit and sometimes the death rate reached 50%. The criminal group used several points of entry in Spain, using the airports of Madrid-Barajas, Pamplona and Bilbao.

Operation SUZAKU has been mainly carried out by the Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA) of the Guardia Civil. Europol supported the operation and facilitated the exchange of operational information. AMERIPOL coordinated the activities with the different Latin American countries involved.

Europol birds

'K9' dogs-officers – laudit!

Every day, throughout the EU and beyond, thousands of dogs are working to help keep us safe, many times even risking their lives. These specially-trained and dedicated ‘K9’ officers are searching for explosives or drugs, finding evidence at crime scenes, tracking missing people and criminals and protecting their handlers.

To honour their loyalty and their work, Europol dedicates for the first time ever its yearly calendar to these invaluable four-legged members of police forces.

Europol’s “Dogs as Heroes” 2018 calendar features professional images of police dogs in their working environment in Europe and beyond. All of the calendar’s images were submitted to Europol as part of the Agency’s annual photo competition open to law enforcement photographers.

Europol’s “Dogs as Heroes” 2018 calendar will be available for purchase for one symbolic euro* at the EU Bookshop.

* covering the printing costs, shipping costs not included

EU operation Sophia in Mediterranean extended

25.07 2017. Brussels. The Council extended the mandate of the EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia until 31 December 2018. EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia is the EU naval operation disrupting the business model of migrant smugglers and human traffickers in the Southern Central Mediterranean. The operation has two supporting tasks: training the Libyan Coastguard and Navy and contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya in accordance with UNSCR 2292 (2016) and 2357 (2017).

The Council also amended the operation’s mandate to:

  • set up a monitoring mechanism of trainees to ensure the long-term efficiency of the training of the Libyan Coastguard;
  • conduct new surveillance activities and gather information on illegal trafficking of oil exports from Libya in accordance with UNSCR 2146 (2014) and 2362 (2017);
  • enhance the possibilities for sharing information on human trafficking with member states’ law enforcement agencies, FRONTEX and EUROPOL.

“Two years ago, the European Union’s member states decided unanimously to tackle together one of the most despicable crimes of our times – the trafficking of human beings – by establishing EUNAVFOR Med – Operation Sophia. Many suspected smugglers have been apprehended and many lives saved in the Mediterranean Sea, and since last year our women and men serving under the European flag have been also training the Libyan Coastguard and enforcing the arms embargo on the high seas off the coasts of Libya. Today, I’m particularly proud to announce that the mandate of Operation Sophia has been unanimously renewed and again with additional tasks”, said the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini.

“As a matter of priority, we will start in the coming days the revision of the operational plan in order to include the new tasks, such as the mechanism for monitoring the Libyan Coastguard and Navy activities post training, and to strengthen the effectiveness of the mission and the shared responsibility among member states”, she added.

The operation Sophia has been under criticism suggesting it encourages the migrants to attempt the dangerous journey to Europe by the Mediterranean Sea in hope they would be picked by the EU vessels, and brought to Italian shores. The law of the sea is imperative about saving any human being in peril – the activity Sophia has been carrying out with rigor, saving lives of all migrants in dinky boats.

Europol arrests terrorist sites webmaster

An individual was arrested in Madrid, Spain, on suspicion of radicalisation and for dissemination of jihadist terrorist propaganda via the internet. The investigation which was supported by Europol for more than a year was led by the Spanish Guardia Civil.

The arrested person, of Moroccan origin and a resident in Spain, used his computer know-how to anonymously access radical jihadist content that is considered difficult to find by an average Internet user. Whilst under surveillance, he had shown a high level of radicalization in his closed circle, and demonstrated a full adherence to the postulates of terrorist groups, fully justifying their violent actions.

During the action days, two experts from Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre were deployed to Madrid (Spain) to provide on-the-spot support. This enabled real-time information exchange, and cross-checks of the data gathered against Europol’s databases.

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