BRUSSELS, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- A joint operation by the authorities in Lithuania, the United Kingdom and Ireland saw the arrest of 18 suspects who formed part of a criminal network responsible for drug trafficking, money laundering and human trafficking, the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) said on Thursday.
The operation, which took place in the three countries on Wednesday, saw the arrest of the leader of the organised crime group, Eurojust said in a statement, adding that 65 searches took place and various assets were seized, with an estimated overall value of 700,000 euros (827,000 U.S. dollars).
Eurojust said the organised crime group dismantled in the operation was responsible for trafficking large quantities of heroin in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The leader of the group is a Lithuanian national and he was responsible for recruiting people from Lithuania for drug trafficking and money laundering.
It added that together with two other individuals, he set up a complex drug transport and distribution network in Ireland and the UK, in which at least 20 individuals have been involved since 2015.
The investigation revealed street dealers operating in the UK and Ireland, who were nearly all Lithuanians. At least 65 people were identified, mostly from vulnerable social backgrounds or drug addicts themselves.
Proceeds from the criminal activity were laundered by purchasing various real estate properties and other related financial transactions, Eurojust said, noting that a financial investigation was still ongoing.
The operation was coordinated by Eurojust with the operational support of Europol. (1 euro = 1.18 U.S. dollars) Enditem