International criminal drug trafficking network dismantled with the help of Eurojust

10 August 2020

With the help of Eurojust and several other national authorities in other countries, judicial and law enforcement authorities in Romania were able to successfully break apart an organised crime group that dealt in drug trafficking. As a result, 15 people were faced with charges and nearly 2 tons of cocaine with an approximate value of €600 million were sequestered.

15 suspects were charged in Romania for establishing a criminal organisation and for international drug trafficking. The members of this crime group had smuggled more than 3 tons of cocaine from Brazil to Romania by sea, keeping the drugs in the Romanian waters where the plan was to then move and distribute them to Western Europe and the Western Balkans. The Romanian authorities had seized 1.8 tons of cocaine with an approximate value of €600 million. A vast amount of the drugs were lost somewhere at sea by the organised crime group while they were being moved.

The investigation was subsequently opened and led in Romania by the Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism – Central Structure. The case was then brought forward to Eurojust in May 2019 due to the complex nature of the case and because of the fact that the members of the crime group were of various nationalities, such as Romanian, Lebanese, Brazilian, Spanish, Ukrainian and Serbian and also because they were secretly operating in different parts in the world.

In July 2019, a joint investigative team was formed between Romania and Serbia, which received both financial and operational support from Eurojust.

Most of the suspects involved were active in Romania, where the drugs were purchased and where the transport was taking place to the Western Balkans as well as to other countries in Europe. Some suspects fled to Spain after a ship containing about 1 ton of cocaine sank in the Danube Delta in Romania. The member of the organised crime group that was in charge of buying the drugs from several different providers in Latin America and then transporting them under the radar from Brazil to Europe was eventually found in Brazil.

Besides the financial and operational support that the investigative body received, Eurojust also aided the national authorities by organising a coordinated meeting, where the team were able to effectively share vital information about the crime group and other activities related to the case amongst each other.

Furthermore, Eurojust also enabled the carrying out of a Mutual Legal Assistance request to Brazil, where they depended on the support of the Eurojust contact points within the country. This also allowed for the direct exchange of information and action between the Romanian and Brazilian authorities, such as the hearings and other activities taking place in a prompt and effective manner.

Eurojust has also enabled the execution of several European Investigation Orders and Mutual Legal Assistance Requests in Spain, the carrying out of a European Investigation Order in Bulgaria (that led to a transfer of proceedings to Romania) and a Mutual Legal Assistance request in Ukraine.

Source: Eurojust

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