21st Jan 2018

Police crackdown saves 30 children, arrests over 1,000 people

  • Police seized 40 cases of Colombian cocaine (Photo: Europol)

Over 1,000 people were arrested in a nine-day police sweep co-ordinated by the EU’s police agency Europol earlier this month, saving 30 children in the process.

Speaking to reporters in The Hague on Wednesday (24 September), Europol chief Rob Wainwright said the scale of the crackdown was the largest ever.

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Wainwright described the operation as “a milestone in attempts by the law enforcement” to break apart crime group networks across the EU.

The EU-wide police manoeuvres hit gangs involved in people trafficking, cybercrime, narcotics, firearms and fraud.

Code-named Operation Archimedes, the police raid saved 30 trafficked children who were destined for sexual abuse, said Wainwright

In terms of numbers, the police seized 599 kg of cocaine, 200 kg of heroine, 1.3 tonnes of cannabis, €1 million in cash, 1.5 million contraband cigarettes, 13 luxury cars and dismantled a lab which made counterfeit medicine.

Some 90 human trafficking arrests were made, along with 170 so-called facilitators of irregular migration, among many others.

The raids, which took place from 15 to 23 September, involved 35 countries and 20,000 law enforcement officers in more than 300 cities, ports, airports, and border crossings.

"Multiple criminal enterprises, some of them the most serious, have been disrupted right across Europe," Wainwright said.

With new routes used by criminal networks uncovered, Wainwright said more arrests are to be expected.

The scale of the arrests, he noted, should serve as warning to other criminal organisations “that the international law enforcement community is determined to combat their illegal activities.”

Europol had teamed up with the EU’s border control agency Frontex, the EU's joint judicial authority Eurojust, and the Lyon-based Interpol.

Meanwhile, MEPs in the civil liberties committee earlier this year voted to step up Europol’s data protection safeguards.

The European Commission had also proposed merging the agency with the European Police College (Cepol), which the deputies opposed.

The committee on Wednesday decided to open the negotiations with member states on the Europol legislative file and the European Commission plan.

Rights NGOs face fresh threats in EU

While ongoing crackdowns in Poland and Hungary have put the spotlight on rights groups, NGOs are now under new political and financial pressure across the EU, the Fundamental Rights Agency said.

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