Police investigating drugs trafficking and money laundering have arrested 44 suspects in 10 countries they think are part of one of Europe’s most dangerous crime networks, Europol announced Friday.
The raids, across several European countries Tuesday, targetted a crime organisation operating in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the Slovak Republic, said the statement.
“The arrested individuals were suspected of belonging to a high-risk criminal network considered one of the most dangerous in the European Union,” Europol added.
Police arrested suspects in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Spain and the United States, said Europol and Eurojust, which coordinates such international operations.
“The scale of drugs trafficking alone attributed to this criminal network is massive, with activities reported across three continents,” said the joint statement.
Police seized large of drugs including cocaine, hashish, cannabis and methamphetamines and investigators think the crime group had links to drug traffickers outside Europe, it added.
“Highly flexible, these criminals would quickly adapt to new drugs trafficking methods to try to evade law enforcement,” said the statement.
“Drug shipments have been found in vessels and trucks amongst others, often concealed in sophisticated hidden compartments.”
Investigators discovered that several crime organisations had been cooperating to carry out large-scale operations inside and outside the European Union, including drug trafficking, money laundering and illegal enrichment.
“The criminal network was structured like a business, with different criminal groups and brokers working together across borders to control the whole chain of drugs trafficking — from arranging huge shipments of drugs to the distribution throughout Europe and beyond,” said the statement.
Europol, the European police body, and Eurojust, coordinated the investigation from an early stage.