PROJECT CARGO DISRUPTS CRIME GANG IN POLAND
The goal of the new EU-funded Project CARGO initiative to disrupt organised crime groups involved in freight thefts in Europe is already producing tangible results with the arrests of 10 suspects believed to be responsible for a series of losses from vehicles in Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Poland and Slovakia during a two-year crime wave.
The project group, led by the German State Office of Investigation of Saxony-Anhalt, assisted Polish authorities in their investigation and the arrests, which also included the recovery of more than €100,000 of stolen goods. The operation to detain the suspects – which involved some 200 police officers and officials of the Polish customs and financial authorities - was coordinated by the Gorzow Wielkopolski Police Central Investigation Bureau.
Six of the suspects were arrested by police from Warsaw and Gorzow as they were unloading truckloads of stolen cargo. Four others were apprehended following a search by officers of 30 apartments, cellars, garages and storage rooms. During this process, investigators found goods including high quality home and electrical appliances, lawnmowers and chainsaws.
Polish authorities also seized luxury vehicles and other assets of the gang members, with a reported value of €600,000. The gang is believed to have been involved in more than 40 cases of cargo crime.
According to reports following the arrests, the gang had clearly defined roles and responsibilities. So-called ‘sliders’ had the job of identifying goods, which they did by cutting open the tarpaulins of semi-trailers at night while drivers stopped at parking lots to take their rest breaks. Once they had confirmed the cargo was of interest, they would call in ‘transporters’ whose job it was to load the goods into vans bearing forged licence plates and then take them immediately to Poland, where they were stored while waiting to be sold.
More recently, prior to their arrests, the gang members were said to have been active in southern Germany.
TAPA EMEA is the first industry association to be invited to join Project CARGO in support of its objective of targeting mobile organised crime groups specialising in cargo theft. The group consists of specialists from Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, and Eurojust, the EU agency dealing with judicial co-operation in criminal matters among agencies of the Member States, as well as law enforcement investigators from EU Member States, including Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria.
Thorsten Neumann, Chairman of TAPA EMEA, said: “We congratulate the Project CARGO team on this successful investigation. OCGs operating across Europe will have seen the media reports of these arrests and it is just a matter of time before the net closes around them too. This high level of collaboration by national law enforcement agencies is exactly what is needed to counter the massive level of cross-border criminal activity and we will ensure TAPA does everything possible to support this initiative in terms of intelligence sharing.”