On August 26, law enforcement and judicial authorities made 18 arrests during a coordinated operation to dismantle an organized crime group suspected of trafficking victims from Lithuania to Ireland and Northern Ireland to facilitate class A drug dealing.
This targeted activity was led by the judicial and police authorities in Lithuania, together with the Irish Police (An Garda Síochána) and the British Police Service of Northern Ireland with the full support of Europol and Eurojust.
The organized crime group, composed of Lithuanian nationals, is suspected of having trafficked large quantities of heroin to Ireland and Northern Ireland.
These criminals had set up a complex distribution network in these two countries, exploiting victims they had trafficked from Lithuania to act as drug dealers and drug mules on their behalf. At least 65 individuals coming from a vulnerable social background or being drug addicts themselves, have been identified as having been trafficked from this criminal network.
This international action day is the culmination of an operation which was first referred to Eurojust by the Lithuanian authorities in 2017 due to the cross-border dimension of the criminal activity.
A joint investigation team was set up between the Lithuanian authorities and their counterparts in Northern Ireland and Ireland, with financial and analytical support from Eurojust.
A financial investigation is currently ongoing to trace the criminal proceeds laundered through the use of complex financial transactions and purchase of assets such as real estate.