A total of 44 persons were detained in various countries of the world, 13 of them are Lithuanian citizens.
“The final and strongest blow was dealt to a very dangerous criminal association, which has its roots in Kaunas, under the name “Dzerkiniai”, 13 persons were arrested, seven of them were detained in Lithuania, the rest of the members of this criminal group were detained in other European Union states” , – said Arūnas Paulauskas, deputy general commissioner of the police, during a press conference in Vilnius.
According to him, the completed long-term operation will have a huge impact on the trade and smuggling of narcotics in Europe, as one of the main activities of this criminal group was the smuggling of narcotics within and outside the European Union.
Lithuanian officials claim that this was one of the largest international operations of recent times.
Over 13 tons of drugs were found
According to A. Paulauskas, a total of over 13 tons of various narcotic substances were detained during the continuous long-term operation. According to the deputy head of the Lithuanian Criminal Police Office, Saulius Briginas, the wholesale price of these substances on the black market reaches up to 40 million. euros.
36 searches were also carried out, weapons and money were found, extradition of suspects detained in the European Union will be requested.
Artūras Urbelis, chief prosecutor of the Organized Crime and Corruption Investigation Department of the General Prosecutor’s Office, informed that the pre-trial investigation was started last year based on criminal intelligence information collected by the Criminal Police Office.
“Nine criminal acts are being investigated, there are 12 suspects, seven suspects were detained in Lithuania, six of whom were given the strictest pretrial measures – arrests from one month to three, one suspect was ordered to wear a collar,” said A. Urbelis.
“The identified group is sufficiently mature”
According to him, the main qualification of the criminal act is participation in the activities of a criminal association and its leadership, for which the leaders of the group face 10 to 20 years of imprisonment or life imprisonment.
Smuggling, possession of very large quantities of drugs are also being investigated, and there are several episodes of illegal enrichment in the investigation.
“The identified group is mature enough, the average age (of its members) is about 45 years old,” said the prosecutor.
“Lithuanian citizens were detained in Lithuania, France, Spain, and the United States of America,” said S. Briginas.
According to him, the arrests took place in various Lithuanian cities, but the Kaunas region prevailed.
Other groups will try to take the place
Europol director Catherine de Bolle noted that a total of 44 citizens of various countries, suspected of belonging to high-risk criminal groups, were detained during the international operation.
“This was an unprecedented cross-border operation involving legal and law enforcement agencies from more than eleven countries. 44 persons were arrested, suspected of belonging to a high-risk criminal group, a criminal network considered one of the most dangerous criminal networks in the entire EU,” said the director
S. Briginas noted that, in addition to Lithuanians, among the detained persons are citizens of Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Russia.
We can predict that someone else will try to take that place in the market because, unfortunately, the demand is there.
“Several criminal organizations jointly carried out large-scale criminal activities in the EU and beyond. The groups were very flexible and structurally similar to businesses,” she said in Vilnius.
Authorities said the international criminal network operated in Europe, South America and Australia.
A. Paulauskas said that this operation will have a huge impact on the trade and smuggling of narcotics, but he noted that there is still a risk that other groups will try to take the place that has been created.
“Certainly, we can foresee that someone else will try to take that place in the market because, unfortunately, the demand is there,” he said.
The pre-trial investigation in Lithuania is conducted by the Criminal Police Bureau, which is headed by the General Prosecutor’s Office.