Europol has successfully set a new record against the illegal trade in plant protection products. 550 tons of pesticides – more than ever before – have been confiscated by the authorities involved in the annual Silver Ax operation this year in Europe, of which 92 tons only in Poland.
New step in the history of operation "Silver Ax"
As a "new step" in the history of the "Silver Ax" operation, Europol refers to the amount of illegal plant protection products seized this year. For the fourth time, large-scale investigations supported by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) – covering a total of 29 European countries – have been carried out, including the control of the main ports and airports, facilities production and repacking and borders.
"The operation only takes place for the fourth time and, once again, we have surpassed previous records," said Catherine De Bolle, executive director of Europol. "With Operation Silver Ax, Europol stresses that the health and safety of citizens is paramount and it is essential that we work with our partners to fight this type of crime together and bring those responsible to justice."
Fighting illegal pesticides with better cooperation is even more effective
In particular, experts from Europol exchanged data during the investigation, which they had received from the countries participating in the operation, and analyzed them. They were also in contact with the stakeholders of 34 private companies involved in the production and trade of plant protection products. OLAF also provided Europol with information on 120 deliveries of suspected pesticides to the EU.
Collaboration between the private and public sectors has been crucial to the success of this fourth "Silver Ax" operation. "Each new operation shows how much stronger police cooperation enhances the effectiveness of the fight against illegal pesticides," said Hans Mattaar, technical director of the European Crop Care Association (ECCA). "Increasing the pressure is the only way to discourage the criminal organizations responsible for this illegal trade."
Since 2012, 1,222 tons of illegal pesticides have been secured
Since the introduction of Operation Silver Ax in 2012, 1,222 tonnes of illegal and counterfeit phytopharmaceutical products are already available. "Counterfeit pesticides can cause serious damage to the environment and to the health and safety of citizens and consumers," said Christian Archambeau, director of the Office of Intellectual Property of the United States. European Union (EUIPO).
The economic damage also weighs according to EUIPO calculations: about 1.3 billion euros represent the annual economic loss of fake pesticides in the European Union.