Spanish and Serbian authorities dismantle drug trafficking network
Spanish and Serbian authorities dismantled a large-scale drug trafficking network through a Joint Investigation Team (JIT). In both countries, 43 members of a Serbian organized criminal group were arrested for their involvement in the production and distribution of marijuana and hashish.
During a major day of action in Serbia and Spain on June 28, 2021 and during interventions against the organized criminal group in January, the Spanish Guardia Civil and the Serbian police carried out 19 searches and seized more than 17,000 plants of marijuana, over 880 kilograms of marijuana buds and at least 130 kilograms of marijuana and hashish resins produced. About 250,000 euros in cash were also seized.
Europol, as a platform for European policing solutions, has been involved in the case since March 2020. Throughout 2020 and early 2021, the European Center for Combating Serious and Organized Crime (ESOCC ) Europol supported Operation MITIKAS through the Drugs Unit by cross-checking the information received, providing analytical support and facilitating the coordination of information exchange between Spain and Serbia. Two Europol specialists have been deployed in Spain and Serbia equipped with a mobile office and a universal forensic extraction device. The information collected during the operation was analyzed and exchanged in real time and immediately cross-checked with Europol’s databases.
Eurojust, the European Union Agency for Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters, launched cross-border judicial cooperation in November 2020, leading to the establishment of the first JIT between Spain and Serbia. It was the first time that the Spanish authorities initiated a JIT with a third country.
Operation Mitikas was developed within the framework of the European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) and the Operational Action Plan on Cross-Border Drug Trafficking from Large-Scale Herbal Cannabis Production in the EU.
The cannabis market remains the largest drug market in the EU, and cannabis trafficking will continue to be an important source of income for a wide range of criminal networks. The trade in cannabis but also other drugs such as cocaine and synthetic drugs is a major threat to the EU due to the associated levels of violence, the profits of billions of euros generated and the substantial damage it generates. cause.
Herbal cannabis is widely produced within the EU, with estimates indicating that at least 20,000 cultivation sites are dismantled each year, and is a major source of income for the criminal economy. Although herbal cannabis is produced in every EU member state, this may not be enough to meet local demand; therefore, intra-EU trafficking exists as demonstrated in Operation Mitikas.
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