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1,000 held in Europe crime blitz

Law enforcement agencies in Europe have arrested more than 1,000 people in a nine-day sweep described as the "single largest assault on organised crime we've seen" across the continent.

Europol director Rob Wainwright said that Operation Archimedes targeted almost all kinds of crime, ranging from drug trafficking to illegal immigration, tax fraud, counterfeiting and theft.

Mr Wainwright said the operation led to 1,027 arrests and saved 30 Romanian children from being trafficked.

It also netted large amounts of drugs including cocaine and heroin.

Mr Wainwright said the operation "has led, I think, to a very significant attack on the whole criminal infrastructure in Europe".

The operation involved 20,000 law enforcement officers in more than 300 cities, ports, airports and border crossings.

Mr Wainwright said that intelligence gained in the operation, which involved a co-ordination centre at Europol's headquarters in The Hague directing the raids, will lead to future arrests.

The raids underscored how criminals across the EU and beyond are organising their efforts, often using heavily encrypted internet messages to communicate.

Mr Wainwright said a "more integrated criminal community" has developed over recent years in which organised gangs work together in different sorts of criminal activity.

But he added that the raids "send a strong message to criminal groups that they are not beyond the reach of law enforcement".

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