The German Police Department Heidekreis, in cooperation with the French Gendarmerie and Czech authorities, the German State Criminal Police Office of Saxony-Anhalt, EMPACT OPC, and Europol have dismantled a Belarusian organised crime group involved in international cargo thefts.

The group was targeting trucks on motorway rest areas and parking lots to steal cargo and is suspected of having been involved in almost 60 offences in the German state of Lower Saxony alone. The total damage committed adds up to over €500 000, according to a statement from Europol. 

The main geographical focus of the group was along the German motorway number 7, near Hannover, the capital city of the Federal State of Lower Saxony. Since December 2018, the Police Department Heidekreis (Federal State of Lower Saxony) had been investigating the organised crime group of at least six Belarusian offenders.

During the investigation, the information exchange via Europol showed that the group had been responsible for previously committed cases in France. It also became clear that the organised crime gang purposefully entered the European Union for the reason of committing crimes. In addition to several cars, the perpetrators used various lorries to load the cargo directly at the crime scene and to transport the stolen goods abroad.

As part of a coordination meeting initiated and financed by the EU funded Project CARGO and organised by Europol, information was exchanged between the Police Department Heidekreis and the French Gendarmerie. This cooperation enabled the intensification of further covert measures and was followed by another operational meeting this summer.

On 10 October 2019, four members of the organised crime group, including its ringleader, were caught red-handed in Germany. In the course of this arrest, a truck with stolen TVs was seized. Further investigations are ongoing. 

The objectives of the ISF Project Group Cargo of the German State Criminal Police Office of Saxony-Anhalt is to promote national and international cooperation to combat cargo theft and to encourage the dismantling of organised crime groups involved in such cases.

“We congratulate Europol, Project CARGO and all of the national and regional law enforcement agencies involved in this highly successful operation. Organised crime groups are targeting supply chains across Europe and the proceeds of these thefts are often used to facilitate other types of serious crime. It is, therefore, vital that offenders continue to see the perpetrators of these crimes brought to justice because this is the ultimate deterrent,” said Jason Breakwell, Vice Chairman of TAPA EMEA.