, THE HAGUE, September 24- Police have arrested more than 1,000 suspects and rescued at least 30 trafficked children in an unprecedented swoop on organised crime groups across Europe, Europol’s chief said on Wednesday.
The continent-wide raids targeted gangs involved in people trafficking, cybercrime, narcotics and illegal gun trafficking.
Carried out between September 15-23, Operation Archimedes “was the single largest coordinated assault an organised crime in Europe,” Rob Wainwright told reporters in The Hague.
Police officers from all 28 European Union members, as well as Colombia, Norway, the United States, Serbia and Switzerland, carried out 300 operations in cities, ports and border crossings across Europe.
“We designed an operation specifically to hit criminal infrastructure,” Wainwright said at Europol’s fortress like headquarters in The Hague.
“Multiple criminal enterprises, some of them the most serious, have been disrupted right across Europe,” he said.
In total, 1,027 arrest were made, including 250 in Spain and 200 in Bulgaria, Wainwright said.
In one of the raids, 30 Romanian children were saved from child traffickers aiming to use the victims as sex slaves or slave labour, Wainwright said.
Police also seized around 600 kilos (1,320 pounds)of cocaine, 1.3 tonnes of cannabis and 200 kilos of heroin.
“More arrests are expected to follow,” Wainwright said.