Inspections were carried out in 16 countries. Photo: ©Ministerstvo vnútra Slovenskej republiky

EUROPE: Seven people have been arrested and over 2,000 cylinders of illegal HFC refrigerant worth more than €10m have been seized by authorities in a week-long swoop across Europe.

The operations, coordinated by the Dutch authorities and supported by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and Europol, were carried out across 16 countries from 20 to 25 September.

In the largest operation of its kind since the imposition of the current European F-gas regulations in 2015, the Joint Inspection Week (JIW) aimed to track down possible illicit imports of F-gases into the EU and identify the importers. The systematic exchange of operational information and intelligence information between law enforcement authorities, customs and surveillance market authorities enabled the identification of hotspots and targets.

An inspection being carried out by Portugal’s National Republican Guard

A total of 1,682 inspections are said to have been carried out during the JIW, with 706 administrative infringements and 28 criminal infringements detected. Seven people were arrested and a total of 2,105 cylinders of F-gases – or 142 288 tonnes of CO2e  – were seized. The estimated value of the seized material was over €10m.

The JIW was part of EMPACT (European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats), under the Environmental Crime priority.

The 16 countries involved were: Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.


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