Hundreds of arrests following mega-operation

Like in a good thriller: Investigators eavesdropped on criminal gangs. For no less than 18 months. And then they went into action in 16 countries at once. And it all began with a trick.

Europol: Hunderte Festnahmen nach Mega-Operation

The Hague (dpa) – According to Europol, international investigators have arrested over 800 suspects in more than 1200 different countries during the operation against organized crime. On Tuesday, Europol in The Hague said it was one of the largest police operations ever. More than 700 buildings were searched, tons of drugs were impounded, and large volumes of cash, precious jewels and weapons seized.

For 18 whole months, the investigators listened in on telephone calls and other communication between the gangs. A total of more than 27 million messages were scanned. And the investigators were able to strike such a massive blow because they had previously planted phones specially primed by undercover agents in more than 300 gangs, including Mafia gangs in Italy, motorbike gangs and international drug trafficking organizations. The phones, which were ostensibly encrypted, were actually linked, so Europol reports, to a telecoms network set up by the FBI.

“It was one of the largest and most sophisticated law enforcement operations to date,” commented Deputy Europol Director Jean-Philippe Lecouffe in The Hague. Operation “Trojan Shield” was spearheaded by the FBI, the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Swedish and Dutch police forces, with Europol coordinating the international law enforcement community. Investigators in 19 countries were involved, amongst them Germany.

On Monday, in the fight against drug trafficking the German Police Force raided hundreds of flats, warehouses and business premises up and down the country. In Germany alone, where the focus was on the State of Hessen, on Monday police operatives searched over 100 flats, warehouses and business premises.