2020 has proven to be one of the most surreal years in our generation. In March we witnessed the entire world go into lockdown, country after country. However, while most of our lives paused, Europol was making some of the biggest breakthroughs in years. Here, we shine a light on some of the most major busts of the year.
Biggest counterfeiters bust in the history of Euro
As of 2017, Europol has been cooperating with the local authorities in Italy, Belgium and France in order to undermine organised crime in Europe. The organisation busted by Europol in July 2020 is deemed responsible for 25% of the counterfeit notes in Euro countries, amount of which adds up € 233 million. The Italian police has arrested 44 suspects and seized assets in form of apartments and luxurious vehicles, accumulating to €8 million.
Migrant smuggling ring busted
In today’s political climate, it is important to acknowledge the role law enforcement agencies play in the current refugee crisis. As the EU Member States’ governments struggle to accommodate and assist the refugees coming into Europe, transnational criminal organisations are profiting by offering a passage into the West. In fact, non-EU migrants have been paying up to 17,500 euro to be smuggled into Western Europe via Poland.
This extortion of vulnerable people should be a wake-up call for European governments being reserved about contributing resources to resolve the refugee crisis. By continuing to abstain from providing the necessary help, the EU nations are allowing these criminal organisations to make millions.
Sicilian Mafia Bust
After years of monitoring and investigating, Europol, with the help of the Italian and German law enforcement, has dismantled the Sicilian Mafia – Cosa Nostra. Overall, €1.5 million have been seized and 46 members have been arrested, including the deputy leader. The operation has been in place since 2019 when a link between Cosa Nostra and the German Barrafranca mafia family came to light.
The criminal organisation is known for its involvement in drug trafficking, the use of firearms, as well as extortion and corruption in public tenders.
The number of third-party members are increasing due to the importance and effectiveness of Europol, with Mexico being the most recent one. The Working Arrangement, signed by the Chief of Cabinet of the Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Europol’s Executive Director, aims for the two parties to collaborate in the fight against transnational organised crime. The new partnership will ensure a secure exchange of information as well as allow a representative from Mexico to join other foreign liaisons in The Hague – this exclusive group represents over 40 countries.
Moving forward, it is essential to acknowledge the multiple layers of importance of Europol. It is not just a European law enforcement agency fighting crime, it’s an international asset fighting to ensure every day people are not being taken advantage of.