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Successful international operation against organised money laundering and drug trafficking network

The Hague, 15 June 2011

Supported and co-ordinated by Eurojust, with the help of Europol, judicial, police and customs officers today conducted a simultaneous operation in five countries against a sophisticated criminal organisation involved in money laundering of the proceeds of drug trafficking

The initial investigation of this highly complicated case began in March 2010 by the French National Police (DIPJ) of Bordeaux and Judicial Customs officers (SNDJ), under the leadership of the JIRS of Bordeaux, involving France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. Other national authorities and contact points involved in the case are the French liaison magistrate in Madrid, the Prosecutor of Essen, the German BKA, the National Prosecutor’s office in Rotterdam (Landelijk Parket), the Dutch National Crime Squad (KLPD), the Belgian Judicial Federal Police and Prosecution Service of Brussels, a Judge of the Audiencia National of Spain, and UDYCO in Madrid.

A random control by French Customs officers of a Spanish vehicle driven by a Spanish national on French territory in March 2010 uncovered a large quantity of banknotes, subsequent testing on which revealed significant traces of cocaine.

More than eight European Arrest Warrants were issued against German, Dutch, Colombian, Lebanese and Turkish nationals suspected of being active members of this large and highly complex network linked to the smuggling of drugs.

Today, in total, six suspects were arrested and ten simultaneous house and company searches were conducted in the five involved countries, resulting in the seizure of a large body of evidence and mobile telephones, luxury watches and jewellery, bank, real estate, diplomatic and administrative documents and computers. Additionally, several chemical products, such as calcium chloride, theophylline, commercial hexane, methanol, methylene chloride and powdered activated carbon, which can be used for the production of cocaine, were found during one of the house searches.

These operations mark the result of long investigations which started in Germany and continued in France concerning an international network of Lebanese criminals, highly specialised in money laundering and trafficking of large amounts of cocaine. The illegal financial transfers, which took place on a nearly weekly basis, are estimated to amount to tens of millions of euros. More than €2.5 million in cash has been seized. These investigations show these different criminal groups - drug producer, dealer, trafficker and money launderer - work worldwide together worldwide in very close co-operation.

For the first time in the history of the co-operation between Eurojust and Europol, a co-ordination centre was set up at Eurojust with a mobile office manned by a Europol analyst. Eurojust provided support to the judicial authorities in the five countries during the entire day, using communication tools especially dedicated to this case, and allowing the real-time transmission and co-ordination of information between investigative and judicial authorities as well as relevant analysis of the emerging data. The co-ordination centre was run by the Eurojust French Desk and supported by the Eurojust Case Analysis Unit, with valuable support from the Europol analyst.

The Eurojust Case Analyst, Mr Peter Gouwy, said, “Eurojust was able to prepare the joint action at a co-ordination meeting held at Eurojust in May. We were able to analyse the judicial requirements and provide all the logistical and technical analysis necessary for this highly successful operation. The presence of the Europol mobile office at Eurojust was a significant added value to today’s operation. We look forward to further co-operation with Europol when dealing with complex cases such as this one.”

By linking a computer directly via secure link to the databases at Europol, real-time analysis was provided. Europol also provided additional technical support on the spot in the Netherlands.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Joannes THUY, Spokesperson - Head of Press & PR Service
EUROJUST, Maanweg 174, 2516 AB, The Hague, the Netherlands
Tel +31 70 412 5508
E-mail: jthuy[AT]eurojust.europa.eu