Law Enforcement Across Europe Team Up Against Organized Crime

The law enforcement agencies of 26 European countries arrested 566 people during an operation conducted between Nov. 13 and 18 targeting organized crime networks, arms trafficking, drug smuggling, migrant smuggling, and human trafficking.

Europol SEE WeaponsThe joint operation aimed to tackle organized crime illicit economies, such as arms trafficking. A total of 310 weapons and 20,206 ammunition were seized. (Photo: Europol, License)The European Union law enforcement agency – Europol, which coordinated the operation from an international coordination center setup in North Macedonia’s capital Skopje together with Eurojust, Frontex, and Interpol, said in a statement Thursday that more than 22,400 officers of police, customs immigration and border control services were involved in the operation that focused mostly on Southeast Europe and Western Balkans.

Throughout the operation, law enforcement agencies checked a total of 288,774 entities, including 215,273 people, 67,277 vehicles, 5,225 postal parcels, and 999 premises. They also detected 2,229 illegal entries and 114 forged documents, according to Europol.

It also said that police in several countries seized nearly a ton of drugs, including 626 kilos of cocaine and 300 kilos of cannabis, heroin and marijuana plants, as well as 310 pieces of various weapons and more than 20,000 pieces of ammunition.

As a part of the operation, and in support of the field activities, a cyber patrol was set up to detect illicit firearms trafficking and collect new information on the identified targets through monitoring different web pages, including the dark web, social media, forums and marketplaces.

“During the cyber patrolling activities, investigators identified 120 targets (accounts and/or individuals) related to the trafficking of firearms, 94 of which were on a messaging application, 11 on marketplaces and 10 on other clear websites and five on the dark web,” according to Europol.

The operation was conducted within the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) Joint Action Days South East Europe (JAD SEE), involving EU-countries – Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Spain and the non-EU countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.