Europol Raises Alarm on Criminal Misuse of Bluetooth Trackers

Security

Europol has issued a new warning regarding an emerging trend in organized crime involving the use of Bluetooth trackers. 

Originally designed to help individuals locate personal items and prevent vehicle theft, these small devices are being increasingly exploited by criminals for illicit activities.

According to a new blog post published by Europol today, criminals are leveraging this technology to geolocate illegal commodities, with the majority of reported cases involving cocaine smuggling.

The trackers have been frequently discovered alongside large cocaine shipments, particularly in container shipments of food products and hidden in sea chests within sea vessels. 

Europol confirmed that drug traffickers are using Bluetooth trackers to trace the transit of illicit cargo after it arrives in ports. The technology enables them to monitor the movement of the cargo by road towards storage locations in European markets, and it is likely that the trackers are also employed to locate illicit shipments upon arrival in ports.

In response to this growing concern, Europol has issued an early warning notification to all EU Member States, cautioning them about the misuse of Bluetooth tracker technology by organized crime groups.

According to the document, Bluetooth trackers are valued by criminals for their smaller size, affordability, longer battery life (approximately one to two years) and waterproof features compared to traditional GPS trackers. 

While Bluetooth trackers are not effective when out of range of paired devices, they offer an attractive solution for criminals seeking to track and locate illicit commodities.

Europol acknowledged that Bluetooth trackers have been used in a few cases related to organized property crime and migrant smuggling, but the predominant concern remains their association with drug trafficking.

Read more about smuggling operations: Thousands of Social Media Takedowns Hit People Smugglers

As of now, there are no indications that Bluetooth trackers are being used to geolocate shipments at sea. Europol suggests that, due to technological constraints, GPS technology is more suitable for this purpose.

However, the notification did underscore the potential for combining GPS devices and Bluetooth trackers for more reliable geolocation.

Image credit: dreii / Shutterstock.com

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