The Life Satec project contributed to the funding of Europol’s Empact (2022/2025)Timber Operational Phase.

From November 13 to 17, 2023, Europol orchestrated an international operation against the illegal timber trade, engaging law enforcement authorities from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Brazilian authorities also participated, along with law enforcement from Costa Rica and Panama, representing the Jaguar Network, marking their inaugural involvement in this recurring operation in 2023. The operations focused on combatting environmental crimes, illegal logging, smuggling, document fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion.

As a result of the operation, a total of 226 inspections were conducted. The seizures from these inspections comprised timber originating from Myanmar, with an estimated value of EUR 12,000. Additionally, Brazilian timber, equivalent to the contents of two maritime containers, was seized with an estimated value of EUR 67,000. The successful operation also led to the initiation of one criminal investigation in connection with these illicit activities.

Illegal timber trade involves clearing an area equivalent to a football field every two seconds globally, depleting natural resources and contributing to deforestation and climate change. This lucrative transnational criminal activity generates an estimated USD 7 billion, as criminal groups use document forgery and bribery to conceal timber origins and pass customs checks. High-demand timber types like teak, rosewood, ipé, and pernambuco are sought after in European countries for various purposes, including ornaments and construction.

Europol deployed experts and analysts to EU hotspots, offering expertise and operational analysis support to participating countries and law enforcement. Additionally, Europol provided operational assistance through a Virtual Command Post. In preparation, law enforcement authorities convened in a dedicated workshop to exchange insights and best practices for combating illegal timber trade.

Participating authorities:

  • Brazil: Federal Police (Polícia Federal);
  • France: French National Gendarmerie (Gendarmerie Nationale) – Central Office for Combating Environmental and Public Health Attacks (Office central de lutte contre les atteintes à l’environnement et à la santé publique OCLAESP);
  • Costa Rica: Criminal Investigation Department (Departamento de Investigaciones Criminales) and Prosecutor;
  • Germany: Federal Criminal Police (Bundeskriminalamt);
  • Italy: Italian Carabinieri (Arma dei Carabinieri);
  • Netherlands: Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit);
  • Panama: National Police (Policía Nacional) and Prosecutor;
  • Portugal: National Republican Guard – SEPNA (Guarda Nacional Republicana – SEPNA).
  • Spain: Spanish Guardia Civil (Guardia Civil – SEPRONA) and SVA from Spanish Customs (Servicio de Vigilancia Aduanera).

Source: Europol, 2023

EnviCrimeNet and LIFE SATEC Project

The EnviCrimeNet network includes among its objectives the strengthening of capacities and cooperation with professionals from other networks working in the fight against environmental crime. The LIFE SATEC Project, funded by the European Commission, has facilitated inspection actions in Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands, involving experts from both Europe and Latin America, representing the Jaguar Network.

The inspection phase aimed to unite EU and Latin-American (Jaguar Network) law enforcement agencies, focusing on timber trafficking. Its goal was to develop expertise, improve intelligence on timber trackability (EU Timber Regulation), and combat document fraud. Specialized environmental crime unit inspectors conducted checks in selected EU locations based on intelligence, initiating investigations at national, international, or regional levels to address illegal timber trade.