Italy-led Operation Busts Crime Ring Spanning Europe

Published: 23 May 2024

Italy Arrests 220524Europol coordinated multinational operation targeting a dangerous Turskih organized crime group operating across Europe. (Photo: Europol, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

In a sweeping operation on Wednesday, authorities arrested 17 Turkish nationals—14 in Italy and three across other European countries—cracking down on a criminal organization linked to murders, migrant smuggling, drug trafficking, and counterfeit cigarette smuggling across Europe.

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA) confirmed Thursday that one of the 17 suspects was arrested in Bosnia.

A Turkish national believed to be associated with the criminal organization under investigation in Italy was apprehended in the town of Pale, located approximately 30 kilometers east of the capital Sarajevo. He was subsequently transferred to the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina for further legal proceedings, according to SIPA.

The Italian National Police stated that the operation targeting this dangerous criminal organization began last October, when they arrested three members, including the leader, in Como as they attempted to flee to Switzerland.

The investigation further revealed that the head of the organization, even while under house arrest for weapons charges, continued to orchestrate a wide range of criminal activities from Italy.

These included migrant transportation, drug trafficking, cigarette and pharmaceutical smuggling, and orchestrating terrorist acts such as the “murder of a Turkish citizen in Berlin and an attack on an aluminum factory in Turkey last March.”

Europol, the European Union law enforcement agency that assisted with intelligence analysis and coordination, said that the investigation also uncovered how international financial flows funded the criminal organization’s illegal activities across Europe.

According to Bosnia’s SIPA, law enforcement agencies from Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Bosnia and Herzegovina collaborated in the multinational operation.