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Operation “Pangea VIII”. EU against counterfeit medicines.

The Hague: – “Our” European security agency Europol has provided its support to an Interpol operation aimed at dismantling a criminal network involved in the trafficking of counterfeit drugs, through online illegal pharmacies.
“Pangea VIII” is the name of the operation, which ended with the arrest of 156 suspects worldwide, and with the seizure of potentially harmful medicines, worth a total of $ 81 million.
The whole operation involved 115 countries and provided impetus to 429 different criminal cases. 550 were the ads for online sales network and well-removed from the 2,414 sites blacked out.
For the occasion, the European Agency – since its foundation involved in the security of the continent on the strategic plan, and even at the operational one – has seconded its experts at the Interpol HQ in Lyon, France.
Specifically, Interpol specialists and representatives of Europol have shared all the data in their possession, including those from the database held by the Haguean agency, finding numerous matches, useful for investigations.  They also provided valuable legal support to the BKA, the Austrian Federal Police, as well as the Customs Agency and the Health of that country beyond the Alps.

In addition to the discovery of a huge warehouse of counterfeit drugs in Indonesia, the various police forces involved focused on the e-mail accounts, on the domains registerers and on all those involved in delivering of goods and in electronic payments.
Among the drugs seized, they stood out  – obviously – those for erectile dysfunctions, for blood pressure and certain anticancer drugs. Many drugs were expired, or badly preserved and one of the tasks of the organization was right to alter the dates of maturity or the amount of active ingredient present in the contents.

236 was the number of involved police forces and agencies, and of course many of them were European ones.

To be noted is the fundamental and substantial support provided by some private companies and e-commerce giants such as Google, Mastercard, American Express and PayPal.
Another hit scored by the international police cooperation. Even and especially European.

European Agencies and ATM Security.

skimmer_800_800On June 10th, Europol and ATM Security Team reiterated their collaboration in contrasting the so-called “payment crimes”, during one of the three annual meetings of the Team, held to Europol Headquarters in The Hague. “Security team” means EAST, the European ATM Security Team, a European non-profit organization, whose task is to collect and disseminate information to and from installe  rs and bank ATM networks (ATM = Automated Teller Machine).

Europol Centre against Cybercrime (EC3) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with EAST, in order to further strengthen cooperation in the fight against all forms of crime linked to ATM cards and credit cards, including virtual fraud, i.e. those that are committed in the absence of normal magnetic supports, by malware or other hi-tech techinques, or by physical attacks to ATMs themselves.

The MoU will allow to exchange data and strategic information, between the Agency and the EAST, meaning that one of the three annual meetings of the tastierino-400x300same team will be always held at the Europol headquarters in The Hague, just as has happened for the first time in the abovementioned cisrcumstance.

Beyond the statements made by leaders of the two organizations, Europol has recognized the seriousness of the physical or virtual attacks to ATM systems, and has prepared a document containing guidelines about the threat. The document (the drafting was coordinated by the EAST) will be disclosed in the coming days and is an example of a coordinated response between security agencies and the world of finance banking, aimed to contrast the emerging and increasingly worrying growth of some criminal phenomena such as, for example, the “skimming”.

For non-experts, we point out that “skimmers” are devices that can read the magnetic strip of debit cards and credit cards, directly into the ATM slots. Obviously, the very high nanotechnology of these “readers”, is associated with the use of illegally concealed cameras, positioned in such a way to spy on the finger movements of the money pickers, recording the numbers that form the PIN sequence.Un momento della prima della firma del protocoloo d'intesa

EU and NATO a strong partnership

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Jointly declared the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker during their meeting at the European Community

“The EU and NATO are unique and essential partners who share common values ​​and strategic interests.” Said Jens Stoltenberg, “We work side by side in the operations of crisis management, capacity building and policy consultations to support peace and international security “

A joint statement comes at a critical moment of the relations between the European Union and Russia in response to the NATO exercises being accused NATO of getting too close to the Russian border

“Our cooperation is particularly important – continues the Secretary General of NATO – in the context of a declining defense budgets in many of our Member States. We must strengthen the potential of our strategic partnership to minimize duplication and maximize profitability.

Stoltenberg knows that Junkers hope growth of the efforts of the member countries in enhancing the capacity to work together and in close cooperation aspiring to a European defense and effective.

It then waits with interest the June European during which you will have to look decisive measures to that effect.

Foreign Fighters: EU increasingly involved in the fight to terrorists.

consiglio-dei-ministri-dellunione-europea BRUSSELS: – In order to allow the best implementation of its priorities  for preventing and combating terrorism,  the Council was recently asked  to authorize the EU Commissione to sign, on behalf of the Union, the  Council of Europe’s Convention regarding the Prevention of Terrorism,  and its Additional Protocol.
Let’s start with a clarification necessary to non-experts: the European  Council, the Council of the European Union and the Council of Europe  are totally different things. The European Council is  a purely political  institution, which does not hold any legislating power. It consists of the Heads of State or Government (who participate depending on the framework of national laws) and only adopts a policy agenda of the Union.
The Council of the European Union, together with the European Parliament, is instead the body responsible for lawmaking, in the co-decision procedure. It consists of the individual national ministers, who meet each others in OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAcertain “formations“, according to the subject to be discussed, and legislate on the basis of groups and subgroups within the Board, which consist of officers and directors of individual government departments, competent for items to be discussed.
The Council of Europe is an international organization totally alien to the European Union, which aims to promote democracy, human rights, the European cultural identity and the search for solutions to social problems in Europe. It is composed by 47 Member States and was created in 1949.
This mandatory digressione is useful to understand that the adoption of the Additional Protocol to the Convention is an important step forward in the view of a stronger European response to terrorism, in particular against the threat posed by the in-famous “foreign fighters”. The protocol implements some provisions of resolution 2178 (2014) of the UN Security Council on Consiglio-dEuropaterrorists foreign fighters, such as the criminalization of activities such as travel to third countries for terrorist purposes (eg to receive training) or participation in terrorist groups’ actvivities or training for the purpose of terrorism. The Convention requires all Parties to designate permanent contact points to facilitate the rapid exchange of information about persons suspected of traveling abroad for terrorist purposes.
So far, the European Union has not signed the Convention and its additional protocol, but has implemented some of their provisions in the 2008 Framework Decision on Terrorism, which will be updated in 2016. Since the Protocol is an addition to the Convention, the Commission intends to sign both at once, to open the way for the implementation of their provisions. We look forward to the EU Council, in its “Justice and home affairs” formation. We hope it will give the green light to the signing of a document that will hinder even more growth and power of the subversive terrorist networks.

US-Russia: Obama runs the show

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Relationship between Us and Russia are becoming always colder. The G7 without Putin and the degeneration of war in Ukraine are the effects of this context.

In the last year Washington’s strategy in the Middle East was to not bring out a State predominant in terms of economic strength and leadership in the Arab world. Meanwhile in Europe there’s a different strategy. Putin’s exclusion from the G7 and the threat of new sanctions arise from a precise intention.

Ukraine, Iran, West: the Us strategy is only one. Moscow must deal directly with Washington. And, then, go back to that bilateralism concise in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. With Europe forced even more to a marginal role. With states such as Poland and the Baltics defended by the United States. The White House which uses the Russian ruble crisis and high inflation as charges against the Kremlin

And Europe? If China is a corridor to not completely block trade relations with Russia damaged by the penalties, on the other hand it’s becoming more and more a partner of choice with regard to energy issues. Recently, in fact, the second agreement, called “Western Route”, consisting of the construction of a gas pipeline linking the Western Siberia to Beijing.

If Europe is politically supporting the United States, is even more evident that the damage to bilateral trade relations but, above all, the gas matter, could do to change course policy leader of the Old Continent.

On this regard, the Ukraine, where the fighting resumed at a level almost equal to the previous step to the agreements of Minsk, becomes once again decisive: “If the crisis in Ukraine is getting worse – Maros Sefcovic, European Commission Vice President and Head of Energy Union said – and if Russia closes the gas pipelines to Europe, we can hold out for six months. But I think that is fitting in Moscow, as we are their largest customer, “he added again.

September will be decisive to solve the war in Ukraine.The partial recognition of the pro-Russian regions autonomy could be the starting point for thawing between the US and Russia. For these reasons, Putin journey in Italy has an important political relevance. If with Renzi it was reiterated the importance of a return to historical trade and economic relations between Rome and Moscow, even more significant was the visit to Pope Francis. The Russian leader is hoping to find an ally in the Pontiff and his will of a detente between the Catholic and Orthodox.

The relations with the Vatican, the need to keep Europe as the first partner for the supply of gas, the penalties like an obstacle for economic recovery in Russia. While there might be an international recognition of the autonomy of the pro-Russian regions in Ukraine, the end of hostilities with Kiev and the direct relationship with Washington will be crucial if Putin wants to exit from the Western isolation.
Giacomo Pratali


Europol: Operation “Triangle”, cybercrime net dismantled.

Yesterday, an international joint police operation, called Operation “Triangle”, has led to the dismantling of a group of criminals, who were active in Italy, Spain, Poland, United Kingdom, Belgium and Georgia, and are suspected of committing financial fraud and intrusion in e-mail accounts.

The operation – which took place simultaneously with searchs in 58 homes in the involved countries – led to the arrest of 49 alleged members of the criminal group. Law enforcement officials from different Member States have seized forged documents and bank accounts, credit cards and cash, as well as numerous laptops, hard drives, phones, tablets, and SIM cards.

The brilliant operation, which was coordinated by the European Centre for the Europol Computer Crime (EC3) and Eurojust (the European agency in charge of cooperation in the field of criminal justice), and whose principal actors were the Italian Postal & Communications Police, the Spanish State Police, the Polish Central Bureau of Investigation and some law enforcement agencies in the UK, dismantled this organization and discovered an international 6-milions-euro fraud.

Money was earned in a very short time, because the modus operandi used by this criminal group was the so-called “man in the middle”, and was based on repeated attacks in telematics systems, through the use of malwares and social engineering techniques, against European companies of medium and large business volume.

Once entered into the corporate accounts mail, hackers began to monitor communications to detect requests for payment. Customers were then asked to send the money on bank accounts controlled by the criminals.

Criminals, mainly coming from Nigeria, Cameroon and Spain, transferred their illegal gains outside the European Union, through an intricate money laundering bank transactions.

To allow a rapid coordination, a fast communication between the different actors and an effective exchange of information, a coordination center was set up at the Europol headquarters in The Hague, which hosted all representatives from the different national police forces and Eurtojust.

In short, the famous former “third pillar” is finally working.

6000 landings during last weekend, homeless shelters are collapsing

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About 6,000 migrants are rescued in the Mediterranean and arrived in Sicily in the first weekend of June. Thanks to satellite calls from dinghies, the italian Coast Guard was able to coordinate the many relief efforts. While Frontex, which made use of military boats of different European nationalities, run very well. Just as important were the aid provided by NGOs, such as MSF or Moas, which has rescued more than 2000 people.

Whereas the British newspaper The Guardian claims that at least 500,000 migrants will land on Italian shores by the end of 2015, despite the Italian and European authorities try to stop any alarmism, situation is dramatic.

Palermo and Trapani have received 860 and 548 people each one. These numbers are set to rise in the coming hours. If the rescue at sea have worked through cooperation at the European level of military vessels in the Mediterranean, mainly British, Irish, German and Swedish, places such as Caritas or shelters seem close to collapse.

“In Palermo there is no enough capable bridge structure. We are in an emergency especially in view of the number of people ready to leave Libya. It will be a summer of fire. We put the volunteers in the field and do not pull back,” he reported in La Repubblica Don Sergio Mattaliano, Director of Caritas of Palermo.

40 % of migrants, Syrians, Sudaneses and Eritreans, after initial reception, seeking money to leave for big cities like Rome, Milan, Turin or Bologna. Like in Greece, many of them have to plan to reach Germany, Sweden and Norway. Others, including a large part of minors, remain inside the shelters, only to be routed to other centers located throughout Italy.

Moas has also involved. It haven’t never rescued so many migrants like in these two last days: “This was the single largest back-to-back operation in which M.Y. Phoenix was involved. Within minutes of locating one overcrowded vessel, we spotted another and then another. This kept happening until we found ourselves involved in the rescue of five boats carrying more than 2,000 migrants (6400 since last August) between them”, Ret’d Lt Col. Ian Ruggier who was coordinating efforts on board M.Y. Phoenix said.

“Since proving our capabilities, we have received a huge amount of support from people all over the world who have refused to sit back and watch desperate people drown. Now, our effort also seems to have inspired a number of other organisations to offer their own vessels to the cause. This is a great example of civil society responding to a global problem. We are incredibly proud of what we’re witnessing”, MOAS founder Christopher Catrambone said.
Giacomo Pratali


Frontex: “Triton will extend to 139 Nm south of Sicily”

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Frontex’s operation area will expand during this summer. Moreover, 3 airplanes, 6 Offshore Patrol Vessels, 12 patrol boats, 2 helicopters, 9 debriefing and 6 screening teams will make avaible to Triton.

“We have dramatically increased the deployment levels in the Central Mediterranean to support the Italian authorities in controlling its sea borders and in saving lives, too many of which have already been tragically lost this year – Frontex’s Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri said. The role of the debriefing officers is particularly important because they collect intelligence about the criminals operating in Libya and other countries of transit. In this way Frontex is assisting the Italian authorities and Europol in their investigations and efforts to dismantle the smuggling networks preying on desperate people”, he added.

After funding’s increasing decided by the last European Council, Triton in Italy and Poseidon Sea in Greece will be stand to Eur 38 and 18 million by the European Commission. And it will be boosted Frontex with further Eur 45 million for both operations from next year.

26 European countries will equip Triton with their experts and technical equipment: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.
Giacomo Pratali


Ukraine: 7 killed and 15 injured in the last 24 hours

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Victims are pro-Russians, civilians and one Kiev soldier. Other 7 rebels slayed during an attack on Sunday.

7 dead and at least 15 wounded in the Donbass between 25 and 26 of May: 4 militants, 2 civilians (as a result of the bombing of the steel plant of Avdiyivka) and 1 soldier. To report figures were Andriy Lysenko, spokesman of Kiev Army, and Eduard Basurin, Vice Minister of Defense of Donetsk.

But the ceasefire decided in Minsk last February is always more unsteady. 7 separatist soldiers were indeed killed following an attack on the Lugansk-Perevalsk motorway on 24th May. Among them, Alexiei Mozgovoi, Commander of the ‘Phantom Brigade’, one of the most influential leaders of the pro-Russian front. The charges are relapses immediately on the Ukrainian government, but Kiev said that the murder would take place after rebels settled a score.
Giacomo Pratali


Libya: Tobruk bombed oil tanker off the coast of Sirte

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New military action against a vessel, after Turkish merchant ship’s attack. According to Gb intelligence’s report, foreign fighters pass through France and Italy to reach Lybia.

Still a bombing, this time against an oil tanker near Sirte. After the attack on a merchant turkish on May 11, the Tobruk government’s fighters hit the ship was carrying oil to a terrorist group’s powerhouse, close theTripoli government. Moreover, vessel has suspected to have arms for rebels. Two crew members were injured.

Meanwhile, according to the report published by the British intelligence, foreign fighters have developed a new strategy to enlist in the Islamic state in Libya. To avoid the strict airport controls, these aspiring jihadists arrive in France by sea. And, once in Italy, they left reached Tunis by ferry. Then, reach Derna and Sirte, town controlled by Isis.

The other hot front is immigration. Last Wednesday, Tobruk government sent letter to the United Nations, where it opens a joint action with the European Union “to develop an action plan to address the crisis of immigrants in the Mediterranean”.

A substantial admission of “Lybia’s failure to reduce illegal migration”. But also an important cho, choice, whichsatisfy what the UN resolution on the subject should say: no to the bombing and yes to the inspection of boats before they left Libya.

According to diplomatic sources, this mission should have all Libyan parties’ approval and, therefore, also the Tripoli government. So the mission of the mediator Bernardino Leon to seach an national unity agreement is crucial.

Therefore, Libya’s future and the migration issue are related. “Eu’s choice to operations at sea to dismantle criminal networks and trafficking in human beings in the Mediterranean. The agreement between the two governments is essential”, Eu High Representative Federica Mogherini said after summit with Un in New York.

The political match inside the Security Council will be decisive in the coming days. Although outcome may already be written. Russia is the only one permanent member which dissents with a military operation. But the Kremlin, as well as the US, Britain, France and China, have given their agreement to an international police who, with a solid legal basis, give the “opportunity to inspect, seize and neutralize boats”, the chapter 7 of the UN Charter said.
Giacomo Pratali


Giacomo Pratali
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