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Europol Fights Darknet Drug Trafficking in Operation Dragon

Following the success of the joint action operations known as Ciconia Alba, Blue Amber, and Archimedes, Europol joined forces with law enforcement entities from more than 60 countries for the fourth operation of this scale: Operation Dragon. Operation Dragon focused on human trafficking, illegal immigration, cocaine trafficking, heroin trafficking, “synthetic drug trafficking,” cybercrime, weapon trafficking, counterfeit trafficking, MITC fraud, and variations of organized crime. Europol and Frontex coordinated the placement of thousands of law enforcement officers at hundreds of locations during 2017. The series of targeted actions took place between June 5 and October 20.

The aim of the operation, Europol wrote in their press release (Scribd link), was to disrupt crime in the sectors mentioned above. Europol provided a summary of the actions taken during the operation. Below are some of the actions in a summarized form.

“Global Airport Action Day”

Sixty-six countries, 84 airlines, 230 airports, and Europol, Eurojust, AMERIPOL, CLACIP, INTERPOL, Frontex, NCFTA, and UNODC launched a global action against online ticket fraud. Europol wrote that fraudulent ticket purchases often have ties to more serious crimes. The joint action launched on June 5 and ran through June 9. The participants repeated the action on October 16 through October 20. This part of the operation resulted in the arrest of 153 suspects.

“Cyber-Patrolling Week”

Between June 12 and June 16, 2017, 25 countries completed the “first ever coordinated action week to counter the evolving criminality on the Darknet.” The action focused on assorted cybercrime and darknet drug trafficking. More than 40 specialists listed 272 actors for identification. Law enforcement agencies selected 73 to investigate at a greater length. Europol reportedly discovered that 42 actors “cross-matched” across the targeted crime sectors.

“Large-Scale Joint Action Day (LS-JAD)”

All 28 European Union member states, five outside countries, CCWP, INTERPOL, MAOC-N, and Europol focused on human trafficking, cocaine trafficking, and OPC between October 9 and October 13. Law enforcement arrested 692 people and opened almost 400 new drug trafficking investigations. The authorities seized 267 kilograms of cocaine, 19 kilograms of amphetamine, almost two kilograms of MDMA, and 327 ecstasy tablets.

“Joint Action Day Calibre”

Europol, Frontex, and 18 countries helped Europol seize 136 firearms between November 17 and 18. Europol provided “analytical on-the-spot support.” In addition to the weapons, the action resulted in the seizure of 7,000 rounds of ammo. Only 18 individuals landed in custody as a result of the action against illegal firearm trafficking.

Operation Dragon was not Europol’s only operation during 2017. In July, they caught 76 suspected fraudsters as a result of “eCommerce Action 2017.” And in May, Europol warned the public that “the Dark Web Is The Heaven For Organized Criminals In The EU.”

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