Polish law enforcement officials have disrupted the operations of Belarusian tobacco smugglers and seizing large amounts of cash and valuables, according to Europol. The criminals were initially under investigation for drug trafficking in the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. Intelligence provided to the investigators by Europol revealed that the suspects were trafficking large quantities of tobacco products from Belarus to Poland. The proceeds of these criminal activities were laundered through cash conversion methods, property investments, the purchase of expensive luxury goods and the use of cryptocurrencies.
Police detained 15 individuals and seized considerable amounts of cash seized in zlotys, euros and U.S. dollars, along with gold bars, jewelry, and seven luxury vehicles. The total value of seizures amounted to €2 million ($2.14 million).
Europol’s dissemination of intelligence packages has given investigators new insight into the criminal network. In addition to identifying tobacco smuggling as a source of income, investigators were now able to trace the illicit profits. Analysis of encrypted data intercepted from criminals’ phones also revealed locations used to hide large sums of cash. Europol provided an analyst and a specialist on-site to assist the 200 Polish law enforcement officers involved in the operation.
The European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) tackles threats posed by organized and serious international crime affecting the EU. EMPACT strengthens intelligence, strategic and operational cooperation between national authorities, EU institutions and bodies, and international partners. EMPACT runs in four-year cycles focusing on common EU crime priorities.