EU police agency says operation smashed organized crime ring

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The European Union's police agency says an international law enforcement operation has smashed an organized crime gang that earned hundreds of millions of euros in drug and cigarette trafficking, assassinations and money laundering.

Europol said Wednesday that more than 450 police and customs officers in Spain, the United Kingdom, Poland and Lithuania carried out raids last week that led to the arrest in Spain of the suspected ringleader, a 48-year-old Lithuanian.

Europol, which helped coordinate the operation, says police arrested 21 more suspects in other countries and seized cash, diamonds, gold bars, jewelry and luxury vehicles worth 8 million euros ($9 million).

The EU police agency says gang members used counter-surveillance and counter-intelligence measures and encrypted communication in an attempt to evade detection.