Financial impact of EUR 2 billion and more than 1 700 arrests
29 November 2019
The one hundred joint action days coordinated at Eurojust since 2011 have led to 1 722 arrests by national judicial and law enforcement authorities. In total during this period, 3 355 searches were carried out and more than EUR 210 million in cash, luxury cars and jewellery were seized. The actions have halted serious criminal organisations, which had struck more than 2 400 victims, and had a direct financial impact of nearly EUR 2 billion. This detailed calculation was made after the recent conclusion of Eurojust's 100th action day. For the past eight years, Eurojust has offered the possibility for authorities to use a purpose-built coordination centre during joint action days. Simultaneous and minutely planned arrests, searches, interviews of suspects and witnesses, seizures of evidence and the freezing of assets in real time across several countries can be carried out.
The figure on the financial impact is expected to rise, as ongoing investigations will lead to an increase in total damages, such as to tax offices in fraud cases, caused by organised crime groups. The financial impact figure also includes the estimated street value of seized illicit drugs. Coordination centres provide one of the ways that Eurojust can support Member States. In 2018 alone, Eurojust handled more than 6 500 cases.
Coordination centres in practice: Operation Webmaster
Eurojust's President, Mr Ladislav Hamran, said: 'With cross-border crime unfortunately on the rise, Eurojust is asked to assist more and more in large and complex cases. This situation leads to an increase in international actions by the judiciary, which we must coordinate in real time. By setting up a coordination centre at Eurojust, we can help immediately and ensure actions are taken at the same time and that they benefit the judiciary and police in all participating countries, whereas individual actions by Member States and third States would yield less impressive results. We will continue with these coordination centres, whenever necessary, to help our partners.'
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The first coordination centre was held at the initiative of the French Desk at Eurojust in 2011, concerning the smuggling of irregular migrants by a criminal network active in six countries. Since then, coordination centres/action days have developed into a unique tool to support large-scale operations targeting cross-border crime.
A key success factor in these actions is the prompt involvement of the responsible judicial authorities to allow law enforcement officers in the field and other authorities to execute measures immediately and simultaneously in several countries. Eurojust coordination centres help prevent and solve judicial issues and ensure the timely exchange of information and coordination of all actors involved, including investigative judges, prosecutors and law enforcement authorities.
During the action day, coordination centre participants have access to dedicated and secure lines of communication. Based on the information received from authorities, the coordination centre regularly communicates the updated state of play of the execution of measures. This information helps the responsible authorities to adapt their strategies on the spot in a flexible manner to suit developments. For example, an additional European Investigation Order might be required to search an address that has only been revealed during the action. Participants must be prepared for the unforeseen and be able to react swiftly.
Due to the growing complexity of the cases referred to Eurojust, external participants are regularly invited to attend Eurojust coordination centres (e.g. in the field of VAT fraud, cybercrime, terrorism and organised crime). Judicial authorities from the involved countries play a crucial role by quickly advising on the use of judicial cooperation instruments and can use them in real time. Experts in information technology and finance assist in cases requiring their specialised expertise.
The level of dedication and mutual trust demonstrated by all participants during Eurojust coordination centres are the factors that make them such a success. Enriched with 100 action days and eight years of experience, the tool will continue to evolve and ensure justice is done in the European Union.
For further information:
Ton van Lierop
00 31 70 412 5518
Mobile: 00 31 6 27194773
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