Law enforcement authorities from 15 EU Member States* and the UK teamed up last month to dismantle a criminal network illegally trading cigarettes, writes Europol.
Supported by Europol and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the joint operation took place between 2 and 13 November 2020. Led by the customs departments of Lithuania and the UK, the operation was facilitated by intelligence analysis of excise duty suspension abuse. The fraud scheme consisted of illegally diverting cigarettes from EU internal and external transit customs procedures to the black market without paying millions in taxes.
Europol and OLAF actively supported the operation. Europol facilitated the cross-border cooperation among Member States, set up preparatory operational meetings, enabled information exchange and cross-checks and provided analytical support and operational expertise.
During the operation, OLAF also provided the tools for a secure exchange of information between the customs authorities and monitored and crosschecked the information exchanged. Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, Europol supports the 27 EU Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organised forms of crime. We also work with many non-EU partner states and international organisations.
From its various threat assessments to its intelligence-gathering and operational activities, Europol has the tools and resources it needs to do its part in making Europe safer. In 2019, Europol supported 1 874 international operations..
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