Europe-wide Operation Nabs 166 Crime Suspects from South-East Europe

Published: 30 September 2020

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Drug seized in a Europe-wide operation. (Photo: EUROPOL, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

More than 8,800 law enforcement officers across Europe arrested 166 people in a joint operation against organized and serious international crime originating from South-East Europe (SEE), Europol said in a statement on Wednesday.

Officers from 34 countries, including European agencies: Europol, Eurojust and Frontex, as well as international and institutional partners such as Interpol, UNODC, PCC-SEE, CCWP and PA/2019, joined forces during the four-day operation to combat illegal immigration and the trafficking of firearms and drugs.

The operation was brought together by EU members Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and non-EU member states Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Ukraine, United States.

“During the span of the action week, more than 390,000 individuals and 44,000 vehicles were checked at cross border locations and in suspected hotspots for criminal trafficking,” read the statement.

Such enhanced controls and intensified surveillance have led to the arrests in several European countries.SEE Operation1Illegal weapons seized in Kosovo during a Europe-wide operation. (Photo: Europol)

Police arrested 17 people for firearms trafficking or illegal possession of firearms; 73 for migrant smuggling or illegal immigration; 37 for drug trafficking; seven for firearms and drug trafficking; 12 for document fraud; one based on an international arrest warrant and 19 for crimes not related to the joint operation.

During the operation, police also seized “51 weapons of different types and 47 kilograms of a variety of drugs,” according to Europol.

“Criminals from the South-East Europe region are increasingly expanding their network of influence,” Jari Liukku, the Head of Europol’s Serious Organized Crime Centre, said.

He added that Europol is committed to “working closely with this region and supporting an international coordinated and mutually supportive approach for tackling serious and organized crime.”