AN unprecedented crackdown on organised crime across Europe has seen more than 1,000 arrested and at least 30 trafficked children rescued.
A total of 250 were arrested in Spain – more than any other country – in the operation carried out by 20,000 police officers during the last week that saw 1,027 arrests across the continent.
The Europe-wide raids targeted gangs involved in people trafficking, cybercrime, narcotics and illegal gun trafficking, to name a few.
Operation Archimedes, as the enormous swoop is known, was ‘the single largest coordinated assault on organised crime in Europe,” according to Europol chief Rob Wainwright.
“The scale of the operation is unprecedented,” he added. “We designed an operation specifically to hit criminal infrastructure.
“Multiple criminal enterprises, some of them the most serious, have been disrupted right across Europe.”
All 28 European Union members were involved, as well as Australia, Colombia, Norway, the United States, Serbia and Switzerland, with 250 operations carried out in 300 cities, ports and border crossings across Europe.
In one raid, 30 Romanian children were saved from child-traffickers planning to sell the children as sex slaves.
Police seized around 600 kilos of cocaine, 1.3 tonnes of cannabis and 200 kilos of heroin.
They also dismantled a laboratory used for making fake medicines, confiscated 13 luxury cars and seized 1.5 million contraband cigarettes, as well as €1 million in cash.
“More arrests are expected to follow,” added Wainwright, as the operation has uncovered leads to be followed up in the ‘months and years’ to come.
“The operation sends a very clear message,” he said. “It clearly tells the criminal community there will be no safe place for them to carry out their activities.”