Monday, March 4, 2024

Successful takedown of drug trafficking network in Italy and Albania     

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Eurojust and Europol have supported judicial and law enforcement authorities in Italy and Albania in dismantling a network of drug traffickers. During a joint action day, which saw the involvement of some 350 officers in the field, 30 suspects were arrested and 31 locations were searched. Five rifles, one gun and six vehicles were seized during the operation. The action day was steered in real time from Eurojust’s coordination centre. Europol provided operational support on the spot by deploying its specialists to Italy and Albania.

The criminal groups were allegedly responsible for the large-scale trafficking of cocaine, cannabis and heroin, mainly from Albania to Italy. Today’s operation is part of a longer-term investigation, which is being jointly undertaken by the Italian and Albanian authorities and has already led to the arrest of 62 persons and the seizure of assets worth approximately EUR 1 million (in Italy), as well as to the seizure of vast quantities of drugs.

The case was opened at Eurojust and Europol in 2019. Eurojust organised two coordination meetings, during which representatives of the involved authorities came together to discuss the case, exchange information and agree on further steps. The Agency also supported the authorities by setting up and funding a joint investigation team (JIT). Over the course of the investigation, Europol provided in-depth analytical support and expertise, mapping out the different high-profile targets and their criminal activities. The investigation was supported by the European Commission’s Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) project, which – for the first time – was able to financially support operational activities.

The following authorities took part in the investigation:

Italy: Public Prosecutor’s Office of Bergamo, Central Investigation Service on Organised Crime of the Guardia di Finanza, Economic-Financial Police of Brescia of the Guardia di Finanza, Central Directorate for Anti-Drug Services, Italian International Police Cooperation Service

Albania: Special Prosecution Office Against Corruption and Organised Crime (SPAK),  Albanian State Police – Department of International Relation, Europol National Unit

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