Organized Criminal Group Crackdown: 166 Arrested in The Southeast Europe


Interpol and Europol had jointly conducted an operation that tackled illegal immigration along with the trafficking of drugs and firearms through the dark web. The operation was launched to combat the severe and organized international crime that has been originating from the southeast region of Europe, leading to the formation of an organized criminal group.

The operation lasted for four days starting from the 24th of September 2020 and continued till the 27th of September 2020. It has been coordinated by the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Cybercriminal Threats (EMPACT) and has been led by the Spanish Guardia Civil. Thirty-three countries had teamed up while the Joint Action Days (JADs) were going on against organized criminal group.

Approximately 9,000 law enforcement officers had been a part of the operation. It had included the police officers, sea guards, land guards, air border guards and the customs agents.

Interpol had backed the Southeast Europe JADs by leveraging expertise from “Project Millenium”, which is aimed at fighting against the organized crime via the organized criminal group in the Balkans amongst the many other regions. It also contained all the resources from the Interpol Criminal Data Management Department and Interpol Firearms Programme.

The Operation Conducts 14 Million Searches

In the total span of the action week, over 390,000 individuals along with 44,000 vehicles had been checked at the cross border locations and in the suspected illegal trafficking hotspots.

All in all, the countries that participated in the JADs had performed searches of nearly 14 million on the Interpol databases during the four days stretch of the operation. It had resulted in the hits of over 5,000.

These investigations and controls have led to a good number of arrests from the organized criminal group in various European (EU) countries on the charges as mentioned below:

  • International Arrest Warrant: 1
  • Firearms & Drug Trafficking: 7
  • Document Fraud: 12
  • Illegal Possession of Firearms or Firearms Trafficking: 17
  • Other Crimes That is Not Related To The JAD: 19
  • Drug Trafficking: 37
  • Migrant Smuggling or Illegal Possession: 73

Additionally, the investigators had seized 51 different types of weapons and various types of drugs weighing 47 kilograms.

Image: Paris Match

“These results demonstrate that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, INTERPOL and our partners continue supporting our member countries by enhancing their capabilities and strengthening international and regional law enforcement cooperation,” said Jose de Gracia, Assistant Director of INTERPOL’s Criminal Networks division.

“The successes in Southeast Europe will strengthen police cooperation for future operations around the world,” added Mr de Gracia.

The Operation Led To Trace & Seizure of Firearms

Before the JADs had started, the Interpol Firearms Programme had supported the Western Balkan region in the upload of over 3,500 lost and stolen firearms record into the Interpol Illicit Arms Records and Tracing Management Systems (iARMS).

iARMS, getting financed by the European Union, is the sole global database storing the information of the lost and stolen firearms. It had permitted the record-keeping along with the querying of lost and stolen firearms in addition to the firearms being widely smuggled and trafficked. The system had also enabled the tracing of the seized and the recovered firearms from the organized criminal group in the bid to identify the exact moment where and when the weapon was diverted into the illicit possession and also to identify via the analysis, routes, potential trafficking patterns and the traffickers.

The Operation Was A Multiple Stakeholder Approach

The South-Eastern Europe JADs had involved close cooperation between the national law enforcement and as well as the international stakeholders. The operation had been brought together by the member countries of Interpol, the third-parties like Kosovo, EU agencies such as Eurojust, Europol and Frontex. International and institutional partners like Interpol, PCC-SEE, CCWP, UNODC were also active participants.

Source: Interpol

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