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13 July 2015

Egyptian authorities seize guns, drugs and stolen art in operation targeting illicit goods

LYON, France – A 60-day operation conducted across Egypt targeting illicit and fake goods has resulted in the seizure of genuine guns, drugs and stolen works of art.

More than 233 weapons, including shot guns, machine guns and rifles, 30 kg of heroin, nearly five kg of opium and almost three kg of cocaine, in addition to 23 pieces of elephant ivory weighing 43 kg were among the illegal goods seized during Operation Monitor Eye.

At Damietta port, inside a 40-feet container allegedly containing wooden furniture to be shipped to the US, Egyptian authorities discovered 135 porcelain and wooden artefacts from the Muhammad Ali Dynasty which had been stolen from museums and a warehouse belonging to the Ministry of Culture.

The operation, supported by INTERPOL’s Trafficking in Illicit Goods and Counterfeiting unit, was run by the Ministry of the Interior and saw interventions at land, air and sea ports, markets, shops and warehouses across the country between 1 May and 30 June.

In addition, nearly 200 million illicit and fake goods, including counterfeit police and military uniforms, car parts, computer accessories, Ramadan lanterns, fireworks, pesticides and beauty products worth an estimated EUR 91 million were seized, and 174 individuals arrested.

Egypt’s Minister of the Interior, Major General Magdi Abdel Ghaffar said: “Operation Monitor Eye was designed to raise awareness about the threat of this type of crime as well as its impact on public health and safety and the national economy.

“This provides a template for future operations in order to demonstrate Egypt’s commitment to security and support economic stability, which in turn increase investment and job opportunities.”

Praising the work of the Egyptian authorities, INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services Tim Morris said the range of items seized clearly demonstrated the links between various types of crime, requiring a coordinated and cross-sector approach.

“Criminals will take advantage of any and every opportunity open to them, whether this is through smuggling stolen works of art or guns or drugs, or trafficking in fake and illicit goods,” said Mr Morris.

“INTERPOL will continue to support each of its member countries in tackling these illicit markets which generate millions in profits for the organized crime networks behind them,” added Mr Morris.

Major General Mohamad Kamal Aldali, the Minister of Interior’s assistant for the public security sector, said Egypt’s involvement in Operation Monitor Eye through the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Cairo demonstrated their commitment to tackle illicit markets and protect innocent consumers.

“Economic crime threatens the national economy as well as consumer health and safety. The level of information sharing during the operation was unprecedented, as has been demonstrated by the variety of illicit goods which were seized,” said Major General Aldali.

Results from the operation are now being shared with other specialized officers at the INTERPOL General Secretariat including counter-terrorism, firearms, drugs and stolen works of art for additional analysis to be conducted to identify any further potential links.

Operation Monitor Eye followed a three-day training course in April and demonstrates the increased efforts across North Africa and the Middle East to identify and dismantle the transnational organized criminal networks behind illicit markets.

Operation Monitor Eye: Michael Ellis, INTERPOL Assistant Director (English)

Operation Monitor Eye: Ayham Yassmineh, INTERPOL Criminal Intelligence Officer (Arabic)

Operation Monitor Eye - Egypt 2015