Police in Germany carried out raids on Monday targeting people suspected of links to organized crime as part of a major international operation by Europol.
The European Union police agency, based in The Hague, Netherlands, said it would hold a press conference on Tuesday concerning what it described as “a major law enforcement action against some of the world’s foremost criminals” in more than a dozen countries.
“This operation is the most sophisticated effort to date in disrupting the activities of criminals operating from all four corners of the world,” Europol said.
Representatives from the FBI and Dutch, Swedish and Australian federal police will also be present, Europol added.
DPA news agency reported that German police raided over a hundred apartments, warehouses and business premises in Monday’s raid.
Security forces made arrests in the western city of Wiesbaden. However, the numbers were not immediately available.
What we know about the Europol operation
In Germany, security efforts were particularly intense in Hesse and Frankfurt, according to DPA, with other raids elsewhere in the country. Homes, warehouses and office buildings were targeted.
Raids also took place in the western city of Essen on Monday
Reports in Germany claimed that the recent evaluation of encrypted communications used in drug trafficking had provided the impetus for the operation. However, a German Interior Ministry spokesman declined to confirm reports that the raids were linked to the FBI’s hacking of encrypted communications networks used by criminals.
“I can confirm that there are currently criminal procedural measures in Germany but also in other countries around the world against people who are suspected of involvement in organized crime,” Steve Alter told reporters in Berlin. “These measures are currently ongoing.”
Last year, European police cracked an encrypted communications network, known as EncroChat, used by criminal gangs across the continent.
Belgium arrested dozens of suspects earlier this year after police cracked Sky ECC, another encrypted chat system. Authorities then seized over 17 tons of cocaine.
fb/msh (AP, dpa, LUSA)