Europol, the European police agency, coordinated a Europe-wide operation against a drug smuggling gang in which 22 persons have been arrested across Europe in a coordinated operation, code-named ‘Icebreaker’,.
Europol said the suspected ringleader, a 48-year-old Latvian, had been arrested in Spain. The other suspects were detained by police in Poland, Lithuania, Spain and Britain.
The agency described the operation as the largest of its kind, with 40 houses searched on May 15 and 16, resulting in the seizure of 8 million euros in cash, diamonds, gold bars, jewellery and luxury cars.
Europol coordinated an operation involving over 450 officers from 5 countries 🇪🇪 🇱🇹 🇵🇱 🇪🇸 🇬🇧 in a complex investigation to dismantle one of Europe’s most prolific crime groups behind €680 million operation. Read our press release here: https://t.co/UEWJEhWXFT pic.twitter.com/3R1XvDQ1me
— Europol (@Europol) May 22, 2019
The magnitude of the damage caused by this organised crime group is significant: it is believed that these criminals acquired an estimated €680 million as a result of their criminal activities for the period 2017-2019 alone.
This criminal group would traffic drugs and cigarettes into the UK, before smuggling the illegally obtained cash to Poland by different means.
The money was then laundered via currency exchange offices and subsequently invested in real estate in Spain and other countries. The leaders and members of this crime group used counter surveillance and counter intelligence measures to try to evade law enforcement authorities, as well as specialised encrypted communication devices