The DIA is making a special effort in countering transnational organised crime, not only at operational level, but also trying to raise awareness among the foreign counterparts, to spread a greater perception of the transnational organised crime phenomenon, including mafia type.
In this framework, it was deemed necessary to improve, during the six months period of 2014 EU Italian Presidency, a tool supplementing at operational level the existing cooperation models.
On December 4th, 2014, on Italian initiative, the @ON Operational Network has been officially approved by the EU Council – JHA .
2. WHAT IS @ON
The @ON Network, in coordination with Europol, makes it possible to deploy on-site specialised investigators , from police forces already members of the Network, to fight “serious” and mafia-style organised crime groups operating inside and outside the European Union, facilitating the best practice exchange as well as the necessary trust relationship.
The criminal groups under investigation are mainly Italian, ethnic Albanian, Eurasian, motorcycle gangs and the emerging organizations (Nigerian, Turkish, Chinese mafias etc.) posing a serious threat for EU security and economy.
The @ON Network with its European grant Project called ONNET, is based on a Network of Countries and a “Core Group” (Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and The Netherlands) serving as a control room with the aim of selecting the investigations to be supported.
The information exchange is through the SIENA safe channel, and after the Core Group selection of the cases to support, the communications are shared with the involved police forces and Europol for the analysis.
In particular the Network aims are:
• to strengthen the cooperation and communication between law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to counter mafia-style serious and organised crime groups through:
(a) making available on site specialised investigators as consultants ;
(b) improving information exchange, through the SIENA channel, to develop a more accurate intelligence picture of organised crime;
• to support the existing initiatives to improve the administrative approach in the fight against mafia-style organised crime groups, with a view to detect and recover the assets illegally acquired by criminal organizations.
The @ON added value is its streamlined and informal nature that makes possible to quickly support the investigations – both preventive and criminal – with investigators of the partner countries specialised on the specific investigated phenomenon.
3. WHAT IS ONNET
To support the @ON Network activity, the DIA in 2018 undersigned the Grant Agreement with EU Commission for a direct Grant (ONNET n. 817618) of about € 600.000 in favour of adhering Countries LEAs, for a 24 months period, starting from November 1st, 2018, and recently extended until December 2021, because of the health emergency.
The ONNET Project provides for:
• Operational Missions (OMs) of @ON investigators in direct support to Investigative Units of requesting Countries;
• Special Tactics: loan of technical equipment (TE) and payment for informants (CHIS);
• Operational Task Forces (OTFs) to support the most complex investigations;
• 2 Operational Conferences (OC) with the Heads of Investigative Units of the partner Countries.
At present the Network is supporting the Member States Investigative Units of @ON Network in 54 investigations, funded 164 operational missions in favour of 653 investigators, leading to the arrest of 283 persons, including 4 fugitives, and seized about 10.3 million euros, drugs (including 23 cannabis plantations) and weapons.
Contacts are underway between DIA and European Commission for ONNET Project phase 2 that will start on January 1st, 2022 until the end of 2023, seamlessly with the present project.
ONNET aims also to complement the current EU Policy Cycle, lacking of a specific EMPACT priority dedicated to countering organised crime as such, regardless of the offences committed by them.
4. NETWORK IMPLEMENTATION
Besides France (SIRASCO and PJGN ), Germany (BKA) , Spain (UDYCO and Guardia Civil), Belgium (Federal Police), The Netherlands (National Police) and Italy which are members of the Core Group of the of Network, the other partners, together with Europol are: Hungary (National Police), Austria (BK) , Romania (National Police), Australia (AFP) Malta (National Police), Switzerland (Federal Criminal Police), Czech Republic (NOCA) , Slovenia (National Police), Poland (CBSP) , Croatia (National Police) , Georgia (National Police) , Norway (NCIS) , Albania (CPD) , Portugal (UNCT) , USA (FBI) and Sweden (National Police) .
Italy is represented by DIA and by Carabinieri Corps, Guardia di Finanza and National Police as partners, for a total number of 22 Countries and 27 LEAs.