Migrant smuggling remains one of the most profitable and widespread criminal activities for organised criminal networks worldwide. The migrant smuggling business is a large, lucrative and sophisticated criminal market, with document fraud being one of the main activities of the groups. To tackle the challenges ahead, cooperation frameworks have been established with partner countries along key migration routes.
The wait for the victims of GandCrab is over: a new decryption tool has been released today for free on the No More Ransom depository for the latest strand of GandCrab, one of the world’s most prolific ransomware to date. This tool was developed by the Romanian Police in close collaboration with the internet security company Bitdefender and Europol, together with the support of law enforcement authorities from Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, UK, Canada and US FBI.
Europol has supported an investigation coordinated by the Federal Judicial Police of Leuven (Belgium) into an Albanian-Belgian drug trafficking gang. The coordinated action days took place between 4 and 6 February when police services intervened to bring down the organised criminal network at various locations in Belgium and Switzerland. In total, 22 suspects were arrested and six were sent to prison by the authorities in Leuven. Police searched 24 houses in Belgium and various actions were carried out in Switzerland at the same time.
On 14 February, Europol supported an action day coordinated by the Italian NAS Carabinieri. The coordinated action dismantled a sophisticated criminal network involved in counterfeiting trademarks and distinctive labels of a famous winery in Florence, Italy, as well as counterfeiting at least 11 000 bottles of red wine. The bottles, claiming to belong to the high-quality group of IGT wines protected by the Italian government, actually contained a lower quality wine.
Europol supported Policía Nacional (Spanish National Police) in arresting a man in Ceuta (Spain) suspected of indoctrinating young people and promoting and disseminating jihadist terrorist propaganda. Police officers also carried out a search of his house.
The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) had its first Board of Management meeting of 2019 this week at the Australian Institute of Police Management in Manly, New South Wales, to take a closer look at the disturbing trends and dangers of online child sexual exploitation through cross-border collaboration. During the in-depth exchange, all the attending member countries highlighted the importance of prevention and the significant increase in the number of arrests, as well as in the number of children worldwide requiring protection from online child sexual exploitation.
On 21 January 2019, some 300 hundred officers from the Gendarmerie Nationale (French Gendarmerie) and the Guardia di Finanza (Italian Finance Corps) targeted suspects across both countries believed to be part of an organised crime group behind a large-scale international money-laundering scheme. The criminal cash flows are estimated at €5 to €7 million per month. The coordinated raids took place simultaneously in Paris, Ivry-sur-Seine, Bagnolet, Montpellier, Marseille, Fréjus, Grenoble and Orvault on the French side, and Florence, Arrezzo, Brescia and Rome on the Italian one.
Last month marked the kick-off of the 2019 Operational Action Plan for the EMPACT priority ‘Criminal Finances, Money Laundering and Asset Recovery’, an EU-financed initiative led jointly by the French Customs and Judicial Police.
Today, in a joint operation, the German Public Prosecutor’s Office (PPO) Münster, the German Customs’ Investigation Office, the Dutch Specialised Prosecution Office for Fraud and Environmental Crime in Zwolle and the Dutch Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD) dismantled an organised crime group (OCG) involved in international drug trafficking and money laundering. The national investigations that culminated in the common action day were supported by Eurojust and Europol.
On 24 January, the U.S. Prosecutor’s Office for the Middle District of Florida, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of Tampa (Florida), the Federal Computer Crime Unit (FCCU), the Federal Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigating Judge of Belgium, as well as the Ukrainian National Cyber Police and Prosecutor General’s office of Ukraine, with the support of the Bundeskriminalamt of Germany and Europol seized the xDedic Marketplace.