15 December 2017
Judicial and law enforcement authorities from Germany, Spain, Italy, France and Austria combined forces to dismantle an organised criminal group involved in the smuggling of huge quantities of hashish and marijuana from a base of operations in the Province of Cadiz, Spain, to other Member States, in an operation called ‘Maestro’, ‘Turbofan’ and ‘Undertaker’.
These latest actions resulted in the arrest of twenty-three people: eight in Italy, thirteen in Spain (comprising nine Spanish and three German citizens and one Russian national) and two in Germany. In addition to five tons of hashish and marijuana, more than EUR 500 000 in cash, firearms, precious metals, real estate, boats, vehicles and drug processing equipment were seized.
Authorities involved in the actions included the Bayerisches LKA (Germany), the Unidad Orgánica de Policía Judicial de Cádiz de la Guardia Civil (Spain), the section of research of the Gendarmerie de Reims (France) and the Guardia di Finanza di Bologna (Italy).
A joint investigation team (JIT)* was formed in November 2016 with Germany, Spain and France. JITs allow team members to quickly and easily share information and discuss investigations and common actions. The JIT received funding from Eurojust for transportation, interpretation, translation, accommodation and equipment used in the investigations. The JIT was signed on the French side by the Interregional Specialised Jurisdiction of Nancy. The Spanish authority was Investigative Judge #2 in Chiclana (Cadiz) and the Public Prosecution Office of Cádiz. The German authority was the Public Prosecution Office Kempten.
Eurojust’s support and advice in avoiding a conflict of jurisdiction was essential. In fact, one of the coordination meetings held at Eurojust in this case was dedicated to discuss and agreed upon which jurisdiction should prosecute each suspect.
Although Italy and Austria were not parties to the JIT, the level of cooperation both within and outside the JIT was excellent. All involved authorities showed great dedication in carrying out arrests and confiscations since November 2016.
The drugs were sometimes concealed in boats with double hulls in Spain, for distribution in Germany and Austria. Postal packages containing drugs and addressed to Germany were intercepted as a result of the joint operations.
* A joint investigation team (JIT) is an international cooperation tool based on an agreement between competent authorities - both judicial (judges, prosecutors, investigative judges) and law enforcement - of two or more States, established for a limited duration and for a specific purpose, to carry out criminal investigations in one or more of the involved States. JITs constitute an efficient and effective cooperation tool that facilitates the coordination of investigations and prosecutions conducted in parallel in several States or in cases with a cross-border dimension.