European-wide investigation brings 1000 arrests; 80 in Netherlands

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European Union police force Europol has made more than a thousand arrests in a continent-wide crackdown on organized crime. Eighty of the arrests took place in the Netherlands.

"It's the single largest coordinated assault on organized crime ever seen in Europe," Rob Wainwright, the head of Europol, told a news conference at the organization's headquarters.

In total, Operation Archimedes netted 1,027 arrests for Hague-based Europol, which targeted nearly all areas of crime, including drug trafficking, human trafficking, tax fraud, counterfeiting and theft.

In the Netherlands, police focused on organized crime, arresting more than eighty people, including members of an Eastern European gangs who steal luxury cars. Europol has reported that some of the stolen car were found in Latvia. Dutch citizens were also arrested in connection with cocaine trade and burglaries.

“The investigation is primarily on mobile gangs of mainly Eastern Europeans who focus on burglaries," a police spokesperson told nrc.nl. They often disappear quickly over the border making it difficult to address them. Full European cooperation was needed."

The crackdown which took place between September 15 and 23 involved all 28 EU member states, plus police forces in six non-European countries: Australia, Colombia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and the USA.

Across Europe, police arrested 170 people in connection with people smuggling, saving 30 Romanian minors from the hands of traffickers. Investigators also managed to seize 200 kilograms, 1,300 kilograms of cannabis and 599 kilos of cocaine.

In cooperation with EU border patrol agency Frontex and EU Member States, 10,000 irregular migrants were checked which led to the arrest of those facilitating illegal immigration.

Wainwright added that the operation was made necessary by the increased sophistication of European crime gangs. "Months in the planning, it was a carefully coordinated series of attacks on key nodal points and crime sectors that underpin the underground crime economy in Europe," he said.

From headquarters in The Hague, Europol officials liaised with officers from all involved countries and colleagues from international law enforcement partners. Four hundred agents in the Netherlands were involved in Operation Archimedes.

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