The 1.5 tonnes of heroin, seized in the port of Constanta, Romania, was concealed in a shipment of a legal company operated by the criminal network.
Europol supported the Romanian police (Poliția Română) in dismantling an organised crime group involved in large-scale drug trafficking. The operation also involved law enforcement authorities from Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The operation, which took place on the 19, 20 and 25 May, led to:
- 12 criminal activity location searches Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands and Romania.
- 10 suspects arrested in three countries: 7 in Belgium, 2 in the Netherlands and 1 in Romania.
- 1.452 kg heroin seized, for an estimated value of €45 million.
- Intervention in the legal business structures from across the EU that were being used to conceal the drug trafficking.
On 10 May 2021, the Romanian authorities detected and seized 1. 452 kg heroin in two containers loaded with marble slates. The containers were shipped to the Romanian port of Constanta from the Middle East. The following operational activities and monitoring of the drug delivery led to the arrests of the main targets on 19-20 May. The Belgium authorities arrested another suspect on 25 May.
This operation is the result of a one-year-long investigation targeting a high-profile criminal network involved in large scale drug trafficking. The leader of the criminal network had established a complex trade infrastructure to facilitate the import of large quantities of drugs from the production sites to the distribution market in Europe. He was using a significant number of companies across the EU to organise the distribution flow and conceal the illegal trafficking behind the façade of legal trade.
The joint operational actions across the EU, which involved 90 officers in Romania only, were enabled by a swift judicial and law enforcement coordination, supported by Europol and Eurojust. Europol facilitated the information exchange and provided analytical support.
On the action day, Europol supported the field activities by setting up a virtual command post. It also deployed an expert to Romania to enable the cross-checking of operational information in real-time. For its part, Eurojust facilitated the cooperation between judicial authorities, which enabled the controlled deliveries and the collection of evidence.