ISSN 2330-717X

Balkan Crime-Busting Operation Yields Drugs And Firearms

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By Maja Zivanovic

Large amounts of weapons and drugs have been seized in a major cross-border joint police action coordinated by Europol, designed to counter crime originating from the Western Balkans.

A major police action involving 8,300 police from 28 countries and designed to curb crime orginating from the Balkans has resulted in almost half a million people, vehicles and premises being checked on the ground, Europol said on Friday.

A Europol press release said the latest Joint Action Days was conducted between September 5 to 9 and involved police from Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia.

Police from 20 EU states were also involved, as were police from Switzerland, the US, Europol and Frontex.

In one example of a joint action, on 6 September, a Turkish lorry with 34 migrants on board was stopped in Hungary near the Romanian border.

“Several hundred pieces of information were exchanged between all partners, 32 suspects were arrested, 102 firearms seized and 60 houses searched,” a Europol press release said.

It listed 159 firearms, explosives and other weapons being seized, as well as 1,462 pieces of ammunition and 286 kilograms of drugs.

Police arrested migrant smugglers, illegal migrants and refugees, drug traffickers, firearms traffickers and document fraudsters.

Joint Action Days are regular cross-border law enforcement operations conducted by Europol.

Last November, a Joint Action Days operation, directed against arms trafficking in the Western Balkans, resulted in over 135 firearms and 7,000 rounds of ammunition being seized in “Operation Calibre”.

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Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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