Police raids across Europe hit 'high-risk' crime group

Drug traffickers and money launderers hit by operation that took place across 10 countries

The raids, which took place on Tuesday, took aim at a criminal organisation operating in several countries, Europol said. Reuters
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Police investigating drugs trafficking and money laundering have arrested 44 suspects in 10 countries believed to be part of one of Europe's most dangerous crime networks, Europol announced on Friday.

The raids, which took place on Tuesday, took aim at a criminal organisation operating in several countries, the European police body said in a statement.

“The arrested individuals were suspected of belonging to a high-risk criminal network considered one of the most dangerous in the European Union,” it added.

Police arrested suspects in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and the US, Europol and Eurojust, which co-ordinates such international operations, said in a joint statement.

“The scale of drugs trafficking alone attributed to this criminal network is massive, with activities reported across three continents,” said the statement.

Police seized large amounts of drugs including cocaine, hashish, cannabis and methamphetamines. Investigators believe the criminal group had links to drug traffickers outside Europe.

“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 criminal organisations had been co-operating to carry out large-scale operations inside and outside the EU, 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 and Eurojust co-ordinated the investigation from an early stage.

Updated: November 25, 2022, 8:44 PM