In what a police chief called the biggest organized crime crackdown in Europe, law enforcement agencies across the European Union arrested more than 1,000 people in a closely coordinated nine-day sweep.
Operation Archimedes targeted almost all kinds of crime ranging from drug trafficking to illegal immigration, tax fraud, counterfeiting and theft, Europol Director Rob Wainwright told reporters.
The operation involved 20,000 law enforcement officers in more than 300 cities, ports, airports and border crossings. They made 1,027 arrests and saved 30 Romanian children from being trafficked. It also netted large amounts of drugs including hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and heroin, Wainwright said.
The operation "has led, I think, to a very significant attack on the whole criminal infrastructure in Europe," Wainwright said.
He added that intelligence gained in the operation, which involved a coordination center at Europol's headquarters in The Hague directing the raids, will lead to future arrests.
The raids underscored how criminals across the EU and beyond are organizing their efforts, often using heavily encrypted Internet messages to communicate.
Wainwright said a "more integrated criminal community" has developed over recent years in which organized gangs work together in different sorts of criminal activity.
But he added that the raids "send a strong message to criminal groups that they are not beyond the reach of law enforcement."