Europe

More than 1,000 arrested in huge EU crime crackdown

Bags of confiscated cocaine (generic image) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Bags of confiscated cocaine (generic image)

Police forces in the European Union have made more than 1,000 arrests in their biggest-ever co-ordinated crackdown on organised crime.

Thirty Romanian children were saved from trafficking, and 200kg (441lb) of heroin and 599kg of cocaine was seized.

Forces across the EU and elsewhere acted together in Operation Archimedes, which ended on Tuesday, the EU's law enforcement agency Europol said.

Police arrested 170 people in connection with people trafficking.

About 10,000 irregular migrants were checked as part of the operation, Europol said.

Archimedes was co-ordinated by Europol from The Hague in the Netherlands.

It involved all 28 EU member states plus police forces in six other countries: Australia, Colombia, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and the USA.

'Largest assault'

Europol director Rob Wainwright told reporters that the eight-day operation was the "single largest assault on organised crime we've seen in Europe".

Almost all kinds of crime were targeted, ranging from drug-trafficking to illegal immigration, tax fraud, counterfeiting and theft.

Among the illegal drugs seized were 1.3 tonnes of cannabis.

Mr Wainwright said there was a growing trend of victims being recruited and trafficked across Europe.

Children are being exploited for sexual and economic purposes, with some used as prostitutes and others made to beg on the streets, he added.

Europol's operation paints a picture of cross-border and interconnected crime networks, the BBC's Anna Holligan reports.

The announcement of these unprecedented arrests are designed to reassure citizens and deter criminals, our correspondent says.