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The Hague, the Netherlands 2015-01-16 Europol press release
Identifying victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation is a priority for police forces across the world. Child victims are re-victimised when their abusers record the crimes, and further victimised when the abuser distributes the material to others across the globe. However, tackling this crime area can be difficult for police at a national level, although cooperation at an international level has proven to be very effective for those police forces that are able to commit the required resources.
The job for law enforcement is made additionally challenging as the majority of the serious abuse websites use technical resources to hide identities. Sadly the number of children being abused is rising, and the way these criminal networks are designed boosts demand for more child abuse material depicting new victims.
Therefore, in November 2014, at the request of EU Member States and other cooperation partners, Europol hosted a Victim Identification Taskforce (VIDTF) to harness international cooperation in a new way. Over 12 days, from 3-14 November, experts in victim identification from 11 police agencies in nine countries worked together at Europol. Interpol - which hosts the International Child Sexual Exploitation image database (ICSE DB) - was one of those agencies.
Experts from Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the UK, the USA, Europol and Interpol worked on an unprecedented amount of child sexual abuse and exploitation material gathered from seizures in some of those countries. Through the pooling of resources facilitated by Europol, the countries' experts were able to select material and establish links that would otherwise not have been possible. Using existing methods of victim identification and developing new ones, the experts isolated collections of images and video files from the gathered material. They then examined these collections for clues that could localise investigations and lead to the identification of the victims shown. Europol then added its own intelligence input to the experts' analyses, giving essential added value to leads that they had identified. Europol were then able to distribute whole intelligence packages to the relevant countries on the victims and offenders.
This Europol coordinated effort led to 240 new collections of material being uploaded to Interpol's ICSE DB and additions were made to more than 100 collections already present there. This will result in a much better chance of child victims being identified, through the combined efforts of investigators worldwide.
Some children have already been made safe as a result of the work of the VIDTF in Germany and Australia. Other investigations have advanced significantly both from work done during the VIDTF and afterwards by investigators capitalising on that work.
Troels Oerting, Head of the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) at Europol, said of the work: "The most important task for police working on online child sexual abuse is to identify and rescue the victims from further sexual assaults. Pooling resources, knowledge and technical skills is the most effective way to identify and rescue these poor children. That is why it is so important that global police agencies invest and participate in victim identification taskforces such as this. EC3 will continue to support, facilitate and fund these taskforces and we are extremely committed to our role in this important area." 

The Hague, the Netherlands 2015-01-28 Europol press release
Thirty-five individuals have been arrested and 2289 cultural artefacts seized, in an international operation supported by Europol to prevent the theft and trafficking of European cultural property.
Europe has a significant historical, artistic and culture heritage, which organised criminals groups are keen to exploit. In response, European law enforcement authorities in 14 countries* launched Operation Aureus, which culminated in a week-long coordinated action to prevent the further looting, theft and illicit trafficking of cultural artefacts.
As part of the action week, law enforcement authorities carried out checks on 6244 individuals, 8222 vehicles, 27 vessels, as well as 2352 inspections at antique and art dealers, auction houses and second-hand outlets. Checks were also stepped up at airports, land borders and ports, while information campaigns warned travellers about purchasing such objects. Specialised law enforcement units also performed checks on websites and online outlets suspected of selling cultural artefacts.
Speaking at a press conference earlier today, the Director-General of Guardia Civil and the General Director of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs confirmed that Spanish authorities had arrested five individuals, searched four properties and seized 36 Egyptian archaeological artefacts with a total value of between EUR 200 000 and 300 000. In addition mobile phones and various cash currency was confiscated, including EUR 10 000, during the action week which took place from 17-23 November 2014. The operation was named 'Hieratica' in Spain and was initiated by the Spanish Guardia Civil and the police of Chipre.
Christian Jechoutek, Assistant Director at Europol, explained that Europol had supported Operation Aureus, which was part of the EU operational action plan against organised property crime, by conducting preparatory coordination meetings for the action, facilitating information exchange and providing intelligence to the participating countries. To support investigators on the spot, an experienced analyst, connected to Europol databases, was sent to the Guardia Civil command centre in Madrid.
The operation initiated 38 new investigations, with more expected. The operation's development was also supported by Interpol, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the cultural authorities of the participating countries.
* Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, United Kingdom.

The Hague, The Netherlands 2015-02-03 Europol Press Release
Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in January 2015 with AnubisNetworks, a cybersecurity and threat intelligence IT company, in order to initiate cooperation to combat the global threat of cybercrime. The MoU creates the possibility to work together through the exchange of expertise, statistics and other strategic information.
The fight against the growing problem of cybercrime requires cooperation between law enforcement and private industry. The partnership with AnubisNetworks is another step towards such public-private partnerships and the cooperation will be beneficial in operations such as the takedown of botnets and more.
"EC3 and AnubisNetworks have taken an important step in fighting the growing threat of malware for innocent Internet users," said Paul Gillen, Head of Operations at EC3. "AnubisNetworks has an impressive global overview in this field and by signing the MoU we hope to benefit from this insight and the company's strong competence in this field. This will further enhance our ability to target the most active criminals behind the development and distribution of malware and, through our Member States and partners, inflict lasting damage on these criminal networks."
Francisco Fonseca, CEO of AnubisNeworks added "We are pleased to announce our partnership with Europol's European Cybercrime Centre. AnubisNetworks is committed to providing international law enforcement agencies with the tools needed to face cybercrime head on.  By integrating the public and private sectors, we are looking forward to addressing the dangers of today's insecure world with data-driven resources and our world-class expertise." 
The Hague, The Netherlands 2015-02-10 Europol Press Release
With the support of Europol, a massive illegal cigarette factory near Budapest has been raided and shut down by the Hungarian National Tax and Customs Administration. Nine Bulgarian members of the organised crime group running the factory were arrested, and authorities seized the complete cigarette manufacturing machinery, 22 tonnes of tobacco and 2.3 million cigarettes. According to authorities, the tobacco seized was enough to produce 1.5 million packets of cigarettes.
Illegal tobacco factories provide organised crime groups with a huge source of income, which often goes towards funding other areas of serious organised crime and terrorism. Excise fraud is therefore currently an EU law enforcement priority. Strategic and operational plans have been developed under the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Crime Threats (EMPACT) Excise Fraud Project. A total of 23 countries and five international agencies are working together to translate these plans into intelligence sharing, operations, financial investigations, and training on tobacco, alcohol & oils fraud.
The action on 2 February was the result of intensive cooperation between various law enforcement agencies including customs, police and security services from six different EU Member States, supported by Europol. This support included intelligence sharing and development, crime analysis, and coordinated international collaboration and interventions. Europol also deployed a mobile office deployment to the operational control unit in Budapest. This allowed information gathered during the raid to be cross-matched against Europol's databases. Real-time feedback was then provided to officers on the ground during the operation.
KPMG's Project Sun report states that the revenue loss from counterfeit and contraband cigarettes to EU governments in 2013 was approximately EUR 10.9 billion. Excise fraud affects us all because the lost government revenue could have been spent on vital public services such as schools, hospitals, and law enforcement. 
2015-02-10 Europol Press Release
Spanish and Romanian law enforcement authorities, supported by Europol and Eurojust, have dismantled a Romanian organised criminal group that were actively trafficking young Romanian women into forced prostitution.
A day of action by Romanian National Police in the Ploiesti region on 9 February 2015 resulted in 17 house searches, the arrest of five suspects and the seizure of a significant amount of cash, credit cards and a luxury car. Five victims of human trafficking were identified and rescued by Romanian authorities. Spanish authorities and a Europol expert provided assistance to Romanian authorities on the spot.
This was preceded by an extensive human trafficking field operation by Spanish National Police on 23-24 January 2015, which resulted in four simultaneous house searches and the arrest of 10 suspects in the Alicante region. During the operation, 14 victims were safeguarded. A large quantity of cash, mobile phones, laptops and other significant evidence were seized. Romanian authorities took part in this field operation, directly supporting Spanish authorities on the spot, together with two Europol experts.
The criminal group under investigation since July 2013 was involved in trafficking young women from Romania to Spain, who were then sexually exploited in the sex clubs of Alicante and Madrid. Surveillance, including telephone tapping, led to the identification of additional members and associates of the criminal group. Furthermore, 20 victims of trafficking were identified. The victims were controlled by members of the group who regularly demanded information on the number of customers serviced and the amount of money earned from prostitution. Money generated from sexual exploitation was used to purchase vehicles that were subsequently sold. The investigation into money laundering resulted in the closure of commercial premises, blocking of bank accounts and seizing of the proceeds of crime.
Europol and Eurojust supported the countries involved in this cross-border human trafficking operation throughout the investigation and facilitated police and judicial cooperation in the framework of a joint investigation team (JIT) made up of authorities from Spain and Romania. Prior to the action day, coordination meetings were held at Eurojust.
Europol experts provided operational analysis to assist the investigation, as well as support for the field operation through the deployment of mobile offices to Spain and Romania.
2015-02-17 Europol Press Release
Thousands of tonnes of fake and sub-standard food and drink have been seized in 47 countries around the world as part of an INTERPOL-Europol coordinated operation.
Operation Opson IV, conducted during December 2014 and January 2015, resulted in the seizure of more than 2,500 tonnes of counterfeit and illicit food, including mozzarella, strawberries, eggs, cooking oil and dried fruit.
Involving police, customs, national food regulatory bodies and partners from the private sector, checks were carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports and industrial estates.
"This year again, the results from Opson clearly reflect the threat that food fraud represents, as it affects all types of products and all regions of the world. Cooperation at national and international level is indispensable to disrupt the criminal gangs involved in this business," said Chris Vansteenkiste, head of Europol's Focal Point Copy who coordinated the activities in Europe.
Italian officials seized 31 tonnes of seafood being sold as fresh but which had been frozen before being doused with a chemical substance containing citric acid, phosphate and hydrogen peroxide to make the catch appear freshly caught. In South Sudan an unlicensed water bottling plant was shut down, and Egyptian authorities seized 35 tonnes of fake butter and dismantled a factory producing fake tea.
Of the nearly 275,000 litres of drinks recovered across all regions, counterfeit alcohol was among the most seized product, including in the UK, where a plant making fake brand-name vodka was raided. Officers discovered more than 20,000 empty bottles ready for filling, hundreds of empty five-litre antifreeze containers which had been used to make the counterfeit alcohol, as well as a reverse osmosis unit used to remove the chemical's colour and smell.
In Uganda, police seized bottles of fake whisky, and in Rwanda officers raided a shop selling fake beer where genuine bottles which had been previously collected were re-filled for sale with a locally brewed product.
"Fake and sub-standard food and drink pose a real threat to health and safety. People are at serious risk and in some cases dying because of the greed of criminals whose sole concern is to make money," said Michael Ellis, head of INTERPOL's Trafficking in Illicit Goods and Counterfeiting unit which coordinated activities between the world police body's participating countries across the globe. "Through this operation, thousands of tonnes of potentially hazardous food and drink have been taken out of circulation."
An illegal slaughterhouse was shut down in Hungary, where officials also seized cars which had been modified to incorporate hidden compartments to smuggle fake alcohol. An investigation is ongoing in Norway following the seizure of counterfeit water bottles. The US Food and Drugs Administration focused efforts on dietary supplements sent by mail with inspections at Los Angeles Airport resulting in the seizure of illicit substances.
Some 85 tonnes of meat illegally imported into Thailand without testing to ensure they complied with health and safety regulations were destroyed, and police also dismantled a criminal network producing fake whisky and seized nearly 20,000 litres of the counterfeit alcohol.
Authorities in Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay focused their efforts at border control points. In addition to attempting to evade paying duties, goods are often transported, packaged or stored in conditions which may pose health risks to consumers.
Operation Opson IV resulted in a number of arrests across the globe and investigations are continuing. Among the aims of the operation is to identify and disrupt the organized crime networks behind the trafficking in fake goods; enhance cooperation between the involved law enforcement and regulatory authorities; and to raise public awareness of the dangers posed by fake and sub-standard food and drink.
Countries which took part in Operation Opson IV: Austria, Belgium, Benin, Belarus, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burundi, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, South Korea, South Sudan, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Uruguay, United Kingdom, USA and Vietnam. 
2015-02-17 Europol Press Release 
Europol have supported Spanish law enforcement authorities in investigating and arresting five alleged members of a European criminal network active in several countries in Europe and Pakistan. The network was involved in facilitating irregular migration, forging official documents, and labour exploitation.
The investigations, led by the Spanish Guardia Civil, revealed a network that had been active in Spain since 2007, smuggling migrants from Pakistan to Spain and other EU countries. The network maintained connections with public servants in Pakistan in order to arrange the migrants' departure. Once the migrants had arrived in Europe, the network kept them in safe houses and forced them to work in inhumane conditions. After the migrants had paid off their debts to the network, of between EUR 6000 to 15 000, they would apply for residence permits using documents provided by the network. The criminal network threatened migrants and their families who refused to pay, to deter them from reporting to the police.
On 13 February 2015, 150 Guardia Civil officers made five arrests and searched 12 properties in the Spanish regions of Navarra, La Rioja and Pais Vasco y Aragón. A variety of evidence was seized during the searches, which included cash, mobile phones, false passports, computer devices, illegal accounting records of different businesses, and documentation about illegal immigrants.
During the action day, Europol deployed a mobile office to Spain to support the operation with on-the-spot intelligence analysis. Europol also facilitated the exchange of intelligence throughout the investigation, as well as providing analytical support to the investigation
2015-02-18  Europol Press Release 
Yesterday, with the support of Europol, German police and customs authorities conducted nine property searches in Berlin, arrested four persons and seized over 600 000 cigarettes. The criminals arrested - three Polish and one Belarusian - are between 38 and 55 years old and belong to an organised crime group suspected of smuggling millions of cigarettes and thousands of litres of alcohol from Poland to Germany.
According to the information gathered so far, some of the illicit goods were distributed in and around Berlin by Vietnamese vendors, and the rest was smuggled to the UK via France and Belgium.
Since November 2014, German authorities have been sharing their intelligence from this case with Europol, the EU's law enforcement agency. Cross-matching against Europol's databases generated multiple hits to seizures and investigations already reported by other law enforcement agencies. Criminal intelligence analysis greatly enhanced and developed the information available. This technique of 'intelligence led policing' supported the planning and execution of the operational phase.
Europol deployed a mobile office to the operational control unit in Berlin. This allowed information gathered during the raids to be cross-matched against Europol's databases. Real-time feedback was then provided to officers on the ground during the operation.
Combating excise fraud is an EU priority in the fight against serious and organised crime.
KPMG's Project Sun report states that the revenue loss from counterfeit and contraband cigarettes to EU governments in 2013 was approximately EUR 10.9 billion, from which Germany lost around EUR 2.1 billion.
By purchasing illicit tobacco and alcohol, individuals could be directly funding organised crime activities and the lost government revenue could be used to fund vital public services such as schools, hospitals or law enforcement countermeasures. 
Europol analyses the threats and trends of commercial online child sexual exploitation
The Hague, The Netherlands,  2015-02-25 Europol Press Release
Technological expansion, growing Internet coverage and the widespread availability of mobile devices are increasingly digitalising our society. Criminals that sexually exploit children online are becoming more entrepreneurial with these technological developments and profiting financially.
Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) have produced a strategic assessment analysing the threats and trends of online child sexual exploitation (CSE), in order to recommend solutions and enable law enforcement and the private sector to jointly prevent and combat these horrific crimes. The report has been drafted by EC3 for the European Financial Coalition against Commercial Sexual Abuse of Children Online (EFC), which brings together key actors from law enforcement, private industry and civil society in Europe to fight CSE.
Through an examination of the scale and extent of existing activities, as well as the most recent developments, the research shows that the live streaming of abuse for payment is no longer an emerging trend but an established reality. It is of particular concern in the context of emerging markets due to increased Internet adoption there.
It is also now understood that both individuals with a limited sexual interest in children, as well as those having such an interest, produce and distribute child abuse material (CAM) using new online technologies. This includes the profit-driven blackmailing of children to disseminate indecent materials depicting them, as well as the commercial distribution of images and videos which are self-generated or obtained through online solicitation. In addition, new instances of commercial distribution via the Deep web and the Darknet have been witnessed. The kind of material being commercially traded can be of a 'tailor made' nature, created on demand, and can lead directly to further hands-on abuse.
Europol's Deputy Director Operations Wil van Gemert says: "Europol's EC3 in cooperation with members of the European Financial Coalition against Commercial Sexual Abuse of Children Online (EFC) have carried out valuable work in mapping the threats and trends of the horrific crime of online child sexual exploitation. The findings of the research will aid law enforcement and the private sector around the world to safeguard vulnerable children. Our commitment to make Europe a safer place for its citizens, including so many children, is strong and we will continue tracking down the suspected criminals and their victims".
Further findings of the report include a shift from using traditional credit card payments to those providing the most anonymity, namely alternative payment options including virtual currency, and a marked increase in the abuse of legitimate hosting services for distributing CAM, such as cyberlockers.
The report has been produced with invaluable contributions from the European law enforcement community, and EFC members: INHOPE; IWF; CEOP; VISA; MasterCard; PayPal; Western Union; Web Shield; G2; GSMA; Google; Microsoft; ICMEC (International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children); Missing Children Europe; Eurojust; and CEPOL.  Europol's EC3, together with partners from the international law enforcement community and the private sector, will use these findings to further combat these abhorrent crimes.
The Hague, The Netherlands 2015-02-25 Europol Press Release
On 24 February, Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) coordinated a joint international operation from its operational centre in The Hague, which targeted the Ramnit botnet that had infected 3.2 million computers all around the world. The operation involved investigators from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom – who led the operation – along with partners from private industry.
This botnet – a term used to describe a network of infected computers - was used by the criminals running it to gain remote access and control of the infected computers, enabling them to steal personal and banking information, namely passwords, and disable antivirus protection. This malware, infecting users running Windows operating systems, explored different infection vectors such as links contained in spam emails or by visiting infected websites.
Representatives from the various countries, Microsoft, Symantec and AnubisNetworks worked together with Europol officials to shut down command and control servers and to redirect 300 Internet domain addresses used by the botnet's operators. The Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce* (J-CAT), located at Europol's headquarters, supported the operation. CERT-EU (Computer Emergency Response Team for the EU institutions, bodies and agencies) participated in this operation, relaying information on the victims to their peers, for risk mitigation purposes.
Europol Deputy Director Operations, Wil van Gemert, says: "This successful operation shows the importance of international law enforcement working together with private industry in the fight against the global threat of cybercrime. We will continue our efforts in taking down botnets and disrupting the core infrastructures used by criminals to conduct a variety of cybercrimes. Together with the EU Member States and partners around the globe, our aim is to protect people around the world against these criminal activities."
Microsoft and Symantec have released a remedy to clean and restore infected computers' defences. For those who fear their computer may have been infected, EC3 recommends downloading specialist disinfection software.
The Hague, The Netherlands 2015-02-25 Europol Press Release
Swift international police cooperation has led to the arrest of a Romanian man suspected of sexually-abusing his own two-year-old daughter, filming the abuse and posting the child abuse material (CAM) online. Romanian law enforcement authorities have rescued the child.
The case began when the United States National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received a report of suspected online child sexual abuse, submitted via their CyberTipline [1] . These reports are continuously triaged to help ensure children in imminent danger get first priority. Analysts at the NCMEC reviewed the report, examining and evaluating the content and, after adding appropriate information for potential law enforcement use, the NCMEC sent the information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Liaison Office at Europol in The Hague. HSI special agents coordinated with Europol's European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), who immediately launched an investigation. EC3 cross-checked and analysed all the data, and produced an intelligence package for the Romanian authorities.
Romanian law enforcement authorities specialised in combating organised crime, and prosecutors from Sibiu County, were rapidly involved. The lack of harmonised legislation on data retention presented some issues in the initial stages of the operation however, the suspected abuser, his victim and their location were soon identified. On 24 February 2015, Romanian law enforcement officers arrested the suspect and searched his home. Evidence found at the home matched the self-produced child abuse material that the perpetrator had posted online. The victim – the suspect’s own daughter – was safeguarded.
Europol’s Deputy Director Operations, Wil van Gemert says: "This serves as an example of how fast and effective international police cooperation can lead to the arrest of child sex offenders and rescue of the child victims, which continues to be a very high priority for Europol and its partners worldwide. We will continue our efforts to fight this horrific crime and to ensure a safe environment for children all around the world."
"This case illustrates law enforcement’s unyielding commitment to protecting our children," said Brian Davis, HSI Liaison Officer at Europol. "What this man did to this baby is unthinkable. He will now have to account for his actions."
The case was supported by Europol’s (EC3), Romanian law enforcement authorities including the Romanian Intelligence Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
This operation is a direct result of the information flow process Europol initiated in 2014 in cooperation with US ICE, aiming to disseminate NCMEC reports on child sexual exploitation to the EU Member States. Europol implemented this initiative in the framework of the EMPACT priority ‘Cybercrime – Child Sexual Exploitation Online’ and currently involves: Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, alta, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Sweden, plus Norway.
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