Police in Greece have broken up an organised criminal network involved in the trafficking of pregnant woman, babies and unfertilised human eggs in an operation supported by Europol.
The human trafficking gang, which is said to have been active since 2016, recruited pregnant women from Bulgaria before transporting them to the Greek city of Thessaloniki, where they would be put under medical supervision until they gave birth at private hospitals.
Once their children had been born, the trafficking network would offer the babies up for illegal adoption for up to €28,000 ($30,400) each.
This fee would cover payments made to the biological mothers, hospital fees, legal charges accrued during the adoption process and delivery of the babies.
Greek police said donor mothers were paid up to €5,000 to give birth.
As well as trafficking pregnant women, the gang also coerced others to act as surrogates, and is even said to have been involved in the procurement and sale of human eggs.
After recruiting donors in countries such as Russia, Georgia and Bulgaria, the gang would traffic women to Thessaloniki, where they would undergo a series of fertility treatments to increase the number of eggs they were carrying before having them extracted.
In a day of action on Monday, officers from the Hellenic police force carried out a series of raids on 12 properties during which 12 people were arrested on suspicion of being members of an organised crime group.
The probe led to the identification of 10 other suspected members of the network.
Europol said that investigators have so far identified 66 people who are suspected of being involved in the trafficking plot, including a lawyer, an obstetrician-gynaecologist and workers at private medical clinics.
The operation also resulted in the seizure of €13,000 in cash, three vehicles, mobile phones and electronic devices, various documents related to adoption and surrogate procedures, birth certificates and bank statements.
The gang is thought to have made at least €500,000 from the conspiracy, which is said to have laundered through financial institutions, luxury goods and properties.
Europol conducted operational and financial analysis, which confirmed the involvement of individuals and corroborated other evidence collected in the investigation.
In a statement on its website, Europol said: “[We] supported the investigation since the early stages by facilitating secure information exchange, providing operational and analytical support, and intelligence and financing one operational meeting.
“One Europol expert was also deployed in Greece on the action day to perform live cross-checks of operational data against Europol’s databases.”
Spanish police and Europol help smash counterfeit currency networks in Madrid and Bogota
Police in Spain have arrested eight people in a Europol-backed operation targeting a counterfeit currency network that investigators believe was responsible for the distribution of large quantities of bogus €50 ($56) banknotes in multiple locations across the country.
The suspects, the majority of whom are said to have been Senegalese nationals, were detained during raids on four properties in Madrid after law enforcement officers intercepted fake bills with a face value of €15,000 in a package addressed to the leader of the network.
Police said the contents of the package, which had arrived in Spain from Italy, was intended to be distributed primarily in Madrid and Barcelona, where members of the organisation employed mules to inject the counterfeit currency into local economies via shops and other businesses.
The investigation that led to the arrest of the suspects was launched back in March when Spanish police learned that a Senegalese national was selling fake banknotes as well as dealing heroin, cocaine and cannabis.
Surveillance of the man led investigators to members of the network, who were found to have been making regular trips to Italy to arrange shipments of the fake banknotes they sold.
After realising the international nature of the conspiracy, police in Spain approached Europol and requested assistance with their investigation into the network’s activities.
In statement, Europol said: “Over 60 police officers were involved in the action day [that led to the suspects’ arrests].
“Europol deployed a mobile office to Madrid, allowing for the real-time crosschecking of the information against the agency’s databases.”
In a separate operation, Spanish police and their counterparts in Colombia have dismantled a clandestine counterfeit euro and US dollar banknote printing press in Bogota.
The investigation resulted in the arrest of two people and the seizure of fakes banknotes with a face value of $20,000, electronic devices, a printer, inks, paper and various other tools used during the counterfeiting process.
Colombian police requested technical and operational support from Spanish investigators and Europol once they had established the network was involved in the production of fake euro notes.
Operation Malla resulted in the arrest of four people and the seizure of counterfeit currency worth €15,500 during a raid on a property in Tenerife that was used as a base by the gang behind the fake banknote plot.
Britain’s ‘worst-ever’ paedophile found stabbed to death in his jail cell
A man routinely described as one of the UK’s worst-ever paedophiles has been stabbed to death in his jail cell, a spokesperson from the England and Wales Prison Service has confirmed.
Richard Huckle, 33, is said to have been killed by a fellow inmate using a “makeshift blade” more than three years after he was handed 22 life sentences for raping and sexually assaulting as many as 200 children from mainly disadvantaged communities in Southeast Asia while presenting himself as a Christian doing voluntary work in the region.
A fellow prisoner at HMP Full Sutton, which houses some of the UK’s most violent and dangerous inmates, is reported to have been isolated from other prisoners after Huckle’s blood-stained corpse was discovered slumped lifeless in his cell.
“HMP Full Sutton prisoner Richard Huckle died on 13 October,” a Prison Service spokesperson said.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further while a police investigation is ongoing.”
Police are now preparing to launch a murder investigation.
“Humberside Police are working closely with the Prison Service to investigate the death of an inmate and at this time we are treating the death as suspicious,” a force spokesperson said.
Jailing Huckle in June 2016, Judge Peter Rook QC ordered that he must serve a minimum term of 25 years to reflect “public abhorrence” at his “campaign of rape”, describing a “paedophile manual” Huckle wrote as a “truly evil document”.
Rook told Huckle it was “very rare indeed” that a judge had to sentence sexual offending by one person on such a scale.
During his trial at the Old Bailey in London, the court was told how police investigating Huckle discovered more than 20,000 indecent pictures and videos of his assaults on his computer.
Huckle is said to have attempted to monetise his abuse activity by charging fellow paedophiles for access to his catalogue of abuse material, which investigators discovered after he was arrested when returning to the UK in 2014 following a tip-off from Australian authorities.
After his arrest, investigators from the UK’s National Crime Agency described the scale of Huckle’s offending as “unprecedented and exceptional”.
Responding to concern that Malaysia failed to act on a tip-off about Huckle’s activities in 2014, Khalid Abu Bakar, the country’s police chief, said British detectives had been unable to provide their counterparts in Malaysia with enough information to allow them to investigate the prolific paedophile.
“That was our main obstacle when dealing with European countries because, by law, they are unable to cooperate with us because we carry out capital punishment,” Reuters quoted Khalid as saying.
“Now that this case is over, I hope that the British authorities will no longer hold back any information from us.”
Police in Bolivia arrest Lima Lobo family drugs clan boss in Interpol-supported operation
An Interpol-backed operation carried out by law enforcement authorities in Bolivia has resulted in the arrest of a major drug baron wanted by police in Brazil on an international warrant.
Investigators in the South American country detained Bolivian national Jesus Einar Lima Lobo Dorado, 52, at the end of last month in the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra following a global effort to secure his capture.
Lima Lobo Dorado, who was being hunted internationally by Brazil after the issuing of an Interpol Red Notice, is said to be one of the senior leaders of the Lima Lobo family clan, which is known to have links with drug cartels in Colombia as well as in Brazil.
The Lima Lobo clan, which is thought to have been operating since the 1990s, is suspected of trafficking large quantities of drugs internationally across several countries in the Amazonian region via a network of private aircraft flown by members who hold pilot licenses.
The suspect was targeted by Interpol’s Fugitive Investigative Support unit after a meeting in Buenos Aires last year as part of its activities within Project EL PAcCTO (Europe-Latin America Assistance Programme against Transnational Organised Crime).
Commenting on the arrest, Interpol chief Jürgen Stock said: “Helping member countries bring fugitives to justice is at the heart of what Interpol is and does.
“International police cooperation is crucial because for criminals, there are no borders.”
“Without the Red Notice and our close collaboration with Bolivia and Brazil through EL PAcCTO, this fugitive would likely still be at large.”
Presenting Lima Lobo Dorado at a press conference after his arrest, police in Bolivia said his apprehension would help them dismantle an organised criminal network that has been trafficking drugs across South America for several generations of the family that runs it.
Lima Lobo Dorado was wanted by Brazilian authorities for smuggling 10kgs of cocaine into the country.
If found guilty, he could face 20 years behind bars.
As well as using private planes to traffic wholesale amounts of illegal drugs across South America, members of the Lima Lobo clan also operated across land and sea routes.
Bolivian police said they have now issued arrest warrants for other members of the clan, including Edward Lima Lobo, Oscar Eduardo Lima Lobo, Edwin Douglas Lima Lobo and Carmen Ibis Lima Lobo.
Interpol said its support of the EL PAcCTO project falls within an EU-funded three-year initiative intended to create a permanent mechanism for fugitive investigations across Latin America involving Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama and Peru.
- Spanish police and Europol help smash counterfeit currency networks in Madrid and Bogota
- Britain’s ‘worst-ever’ paedophile found stabbed to death in his jail cell
- Police in Bolivia arrest Lima Lobo family drugs clan boss in Interpol-supported operation
- US porn site owners charged with sex trafficking offences after ‘coercing young women to appear in adult videos’
- UNODC holds meeting in Vienna on organised firearms trafficking across EU member states
9 February 2018
9 February 2018
8 February 2018
28 November 2017
28 November 2017
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