Eurojust helps stop trafficking of heroin substitute
France, Poland, Ukraine – 29 May 2019
Eurojust helped to align and hone parallel investigations targeted against a major European cross-border drug trafficking operation. Working closely with the involved national authorities, Eurojust organised a coordination meeting at its premises, and helped to set up, fund and facilitate a joint investigation team (JIT), as well as a controlled delivery and supporting coordination centre.
Eurojust facilitates effective use of judicial cooperation tools
With drug trafficking cases accounting for a growing proportion of casework in recent years, Eurojust staff were able to draw on their experience to aid an operation to dismantle an OCG involved in international trafficking of a heroin substitute. Eurojust entered proceedings at an early stage by helping to coordinate parallel investigations taking place in France, Ukraine and Poland.
As a next step, Eurojust organised a coordination meeting in The Hague, which put in motion the setting up of a JIT. The establishment of the JIT, which received funding from Eurojust, was an important milestone in unlocking the case, allowing the involved authorities to quickly exchange information and cooperation during the investigation. Eurojust also provided translation services to the JIT partners.
Decisive action brings big results
This intense and fast cooperation enabled the involved authorities to agree upon a controlled delivery, which Eurojust further assisted by activating a coordination centre. In this way, Eurojust helped to centralise and coordinate the exchange of information, providing a platform for the involved authorities to share evidence quickly and efficiently.
Over the course of the operation, more than 150 magistrates and law enforcement officers were deployed across the various States. Working in close cooperation, the authorities coordinated the arrest of nine suspects as well as 20 house and car searches. In addition to cars, cash and equipment, more than 7 200 pills were seized with an estimated total street value of EUR 100 000.
OCG selling contaminated fish brought down through joint action day
Romania, Spain, France, Italy, Hungary, Portugal – 15 May 2019
A coordination meeting, held at Eurojust, provided the springboard for national authorities in six States to bring down an OCG involved in illegal tax evasion and money laundering. A joint action day, which Eurojust facilitated, enabled simultaneous searches of properties across the involved countries, leading to multiple searches, seizures and arrests.
Early-stage coordination proves crucial
The operation, known as Carpatos, began in 2018 as parallel criminal investigations against the OCG in Romania and Spain, with investigations subsequently launched in Italy and France. With support from Eurojust, the involved national authorities began cooperation from the early stages of the investigation.
In March 2019, Eurojust organised a coordination meeting between the authorities to discuss the legal basis on which to develop further cooperation, including strategies for the collection of evidence on the activities of the OCG and how to seize the group’s profits. A key outcome of the meeting was the decision to act simultaneously against the OCG in the involved countries during a joint action day, which was scheduled for 15 May.
Coordination centre leads to decisive action
A coordination centre was also activated at Eurojust’s premises on the action day to help coordinate the work of investigators and police officers, and authorise the different investigative measures to be taken. It provided a platform for the involved authorities to take prompt, decisive action against the OCG by issuing and implementing European Investigation Orders (EIOs), and to respond swiftly to developments.
The activation of the coordination centre helped ensure the prompt reaction by the judicial authorities to the various issues emerging during the action day, including fast implementation of EIOs. The coordination centre allowed for simultaneous searches of houses, offices and warehouses across the different countries, as well as multiple interviews and arrests of suspects. Eurojust assisted the operation by enabling a real-time, centralised exchange of information and follow-up at judicial level.
As a direct result of the operation, nearly 250 searches were performed across the different countries, involving approximately 850 police officers. Multiple searches took place in houses, offices and warehouses, as well as numerous interviews of suspects and witnesses. These actions led to the arrests of 13 suspects. 11 boats were also seized during the action day, together with 30 tonnes of contaminated fish.
#JusticeDone: JIT leads to multiple convictions in major phishing scam case
Italy, Romania – April 2019
Working closely with national authorities as well as Europol, Eurojust helped to bring about convictions for 20 OCG perpetrators of a major cross-border phishing scam. For its part, Eurojust organised and hosted two coordination meetings as well as a coordination centre, and provided funding and support to enable a JIT involving Italian and Romanian practitioners.
Eurojust supports effective cross-border cooperation
The convictions followed a two-year cybercrime investigation, launched in March 2017, with the involvement of the Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) and the Romanian National Police, as well as the Prosecution Office of Milan and the Italian National Police.
Eurojust and Europol were called upon to support the involved authorities from the early stages of the investigation. For its part, Eurojust hosted two coordination meetings in The Hague, in March and October 2017. During the meetings, decisions were taken to facilitate the execution of coordinated actions with simultaneous arrests and searches, prevent a conflict of jurisdiction, continue the parallel investigations and exchange of information, and organise a coordinated action day. A coordination centre was also held at Eurojust in March 2017 to facilitate the exchange of information between the involved countries.
JIT helps ensure justice for victims
Due to the intense investigative demands of the case, the Romanian and Italian judicial authorities also requested the setting-up of a JIT, which was established in March 2017 with assistance and funding provided by Eurojust. The JIT proved essential in allowing smooth cooperation and coordination between the involved actors, including the efficient exchange of information and evidence between Italy and Romania.
After two years of preparation, in March 2019, the JIT partners oversaw 24 home and computer searches across Italy and Romania, leading to the seizure of documents, IT devices, drugs and other materials. This crucial evidence resulted in the successful detention of nine individuals by Romanian police as well as 11 arrests of suspects by law enforcement authorities in Italy. In April 2019, the Tribunal of Milan sentenced the accused to serve between two and five years in prison and to pay a combined fine of almost EUR 9 000. Various assets with a total value of up to EUR 138 000 were also confiscated. In addition, the defendants were sentenced to pay damages to the victims.