Drug trafficking network active across Europe dismantled

An operation in five countries led to the dismantling of an organised crime group (OCG) active across Europe. Investigations ongoing since 2021 revealed that the group was trafficking cannabis and cocaine across several EU and non-EU countries. The actions in Italy, Belgium, Germany and Ukraine, supported by Eurojust and Europol, led to the arrest of 13 suspects.

Drugs used for the group’s illegal activities were supplied by members in Spain. The drugs were then transported across Europe by couriers, who concealed the supplies in trucks that were in the possession of the organisation. Members based in Italy, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Ukraine, then sold the drugs on their local drug markets.

Drug trafficking remains one of the most serious security threats in Europe. Europol’s report on criminal networks shows that 50% of the most threatening criminal networks active in the EU are involved in drug trafficking, and 50% of all homicides in Europe are directly connected to drug trafficking. It is crucial that judicial authorities from different countries collaborate in their investigations, as drug trafficking frequently crosses borders. Eurojust has observed a twofold increase in cross-border drug trafficking cases since 2020, with over 2 462 cases supported in 2023.

The Italian authorities initiated investigations into the drug trafficking network in December 2021. The investigations revealed that the group, consisting of individals from various nationalities, was operating across Europe. To ensure that the group could not evade justice, Italian authorities used Eurojust’s facilities to facilitate investigations in other countries and execute house searches and seizures.

At a coordination centre at Eurojust, in the early morning of 2 July, authorities from Italy, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Ukraine worked together with Europol and Interpol to arrest 13 suspects. During house searches, several electronic devices, drugs and money was found.

The operation was financially supported by the @ON network, which funded by the European Commission and led by the Italian Antimafia Directorate (DIA).