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44 kg of heroin and 9 kg of marijuana seized during a SELEC coordinated operation

Based on the swift exchange of information and 24/7 support provided by the Liaison Officers posted at SELEC, on July 27th, 2017 the Bulgarian and Turkish authorities succeeded dismantling an organized criminal group dealing with drug trafficking from Republic of Turkey to Western Europe via Hellenic Republic, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and other countries on the route. The heroin was transported by†a†car, which was under the constant surveillance of†the Turkish Police. Following the checks, 10 kg of heroin were found in a special concealment of the car, the traffickers being detained and the amount seized by the competent authorities.†The following day, Turkish Police confiscated,†from the location where the vehicle was loaded, an additional amount of 34 kg heroine and 9 kg marijuana, as well as a handgun and ammunition. 18 persons were arrested in this case.

Joint investigation codenamed PICASSO is still ongoing, further results being expected.

Excellent coordination among three law enforcement authorities in an illegal drug trafficking case

The law enforcement authorities of Republic of Albania, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Hellenic Republic successfully concluded joint investigation VECTOR/FRANKLIN that targeted dismantling two organized criminal groups dealing with illegal trafficking of drugs in the region.

The investigation revealed that initially two citizens from The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia organized in February 2017 the purchase of marijuana from Republic of Albania, arranging its transport to the territory of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, through the lake of Ohrid.

As a result of the intensive exchange of information done through SELEC channel, the competent authorities of Republic of Albania managed to arrest 4 persons and seize 10,762 kg heroin and 10 kg of cannabis, the law enforcement authorities from The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia arrested 8 persons and seized, in two cases, a total of 40,955 kg marijuana, while the Hellenic Republic authorities recorded 38 arrests and seized 316,181 kg of cannabis, as well as 166 cannabis plants, 2 speedboats and 70 cell-phones used to coordinate the illegal drug trafficking.

The investigation is still ongoing in two of the involved countries, additional results following to be reported.

Launching conference of the project SIRAS- Strengthening the fight against firearms trafficking in Southeastern Europe

On 8-9 June 2017, in Bucharest/Romania, took place the launching conference of the Project SIRAS- Strengthening the fight against the firearms trafficking in Southeastern Europe, and the first meeting of the Steering Committee back-to-back with the End-user group meeting, project funded by the European Union.

Project SIRAS, with a duration of 23 months, will be implemented by the†Romanian Police, as lead partner, †together with SELEC and law enforcement authorities from Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Bulgaria and Italian Republic.

The main objectives of the project are creating a network of experts in the field of combating the dark-net traffic of firearms, drafting a standard in this field that will be translated in all SELEC Member States’ languages and opening a training center where more than 50 officers from the Southeastern Europe will receive specialized training.

Further results of the joint investigation PEKOM in the field of cultural heritage smuggling

Joint investigation PEKOM, conducted by the Bulgarian and Turkish authorities, as mentioned in the†post†from February 2017, targeted dismantling an organized criminal group dealing with cultural heritage objects’ smuggling.

The joint investigation was initiated based on the intensive exchange of information done through the SELEC Channel and organization of several operational meetings supported by SELEC, during which the Bulgarian and Turkish law enforcement officers and prosecutors met in order to coordinate and decide on the proceedings.

The operation started with two suspects being arrested in France while trying to sell artifacts in an auction house. Within the operation, two seizures were made in Republic of Turkey with more than 800 artifacts and several arrests. Following these seizures, in both countries further searches were performed, during which more than 1400 historical and archeological artifacts were found in Republic of Bulgaria and 1600 in Republic of Turkey. †

In the last phase of the operation, in Republic of Bulgaria, on 26 May 2017, around 1500 artifacts were seized and 29 suspects†have been detained, including the main organizer.

As an official estimation was not yet performed, from experts’ evaluation the value of the smuggled objects, on the black market, consist in millions of Euro.

The 14th session of the SELEC Council

The 14th†session of the SELEC Council took place on May 30th 2017, at SELEC Headquarters located in Bucharest/Romania, with the participation of high-level representatives from SELEC Member States, Operational Partners and Observers, as well as from Republic of Belarus, Europol, Regional Cooperation Council, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and SEEPAG.

As the Chairmanship of the Council for the year 2017 belongs to Montenegro, Mr. Dejan Djurovic, Head of International Police Cooperation within the Ministry of Interior of Montenegro, chaired the meeting, being supported by the Croatian Vice-Chairman, Mr. Dalibor Juric, Head of Sector for Support of Criminal Police from the Ministry of Interior of Republic of Croatia.

The agenda, consisting mainly in items related to budgetary matters, projects’ applications, activities’ reporting and applications for Observer status, were presented by the Director General of SELEC, Mr. Toni Jakimovski, who also briefed the participants about the latest developments in SELEC.

The†Annual report, reflecting the achievements of SELEC during 2016, was endorsed by the Council members, while the†Action and Working Plan of SELEC for the year 2018 was approved unanimously.

Among the financial matters discussed, the Council approved SELEC’s Revised Budget for 2017, the Budget for 2018 and the Five-Year Financial Plan 2017-2021, documents needed for the proper execution of all activities of the organization and for assuring appropriate funding for the operational activities which represent the main goal of SELEC.

Following the decision of the Council, Republic of Belarus and GCC- Criminal Information Center to Combat Drugs joined SELEC as Observers, summing up to 20 the number of countries and organizations that were granted the Observer status with SELEC.

During the meeting, Europol’s representatives mentioned that Europol is ready to collaborate with SELEC, to share its expertise and offer its support,†so as to join the efforts of both organizations in ensuring the security in the region.

The next Council session is tentatively planned to be held in the second half of November 2017.

More than 200,000 bitcoins in value of 500 million USD seized by the Bulgarian authorities

On May 19, 2017, with SELEC‘†support, the Bulgarian authorities successfully finalized the joint investigation PRATKA/VIRUS in the field of cybercrime, committed †by compromising the countries Customs computerized systems in order to avoid and save taxes. The organized criminal group consisted in Bulgarian nationals having connections in The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Hellenic Republic, Romania and Republic of Serbia. The†modus operandi†used was recruiting corrupted Customs officers in all involved countries with the purpose to infiltrate a virus in the Customs’ computerized systems. Once the virus installed, from distance, the offenders were able to finalize various transports,†as in the Customs’ system appeared that the cargo was already checked and passed.

The Bulgarian authorities have searched more than 100 addresses, suspects and vehicles. A large quantity of money was seized, as well as equipment, devices for communication, computers, tablets, bank documents, etc. 23 suspects were arrested, 5 of them acting as Bulgarian Customs officers. As result of this criminal activity the damages recorded by the†Customs†Agency, only for year 2015, is around 10 million Euro. As well, up to now were found in the virtual space†bitcoin wallets of the main suspects with a total value of†213,519†bitcoins. As a reference, the value of one bitcoin is rating to 2354 USD. The offenders choose the bitcoin way of investing/saving the money, because it is †rather difficult to be tracked and followed.

The judicial procedures against the offenders are currently ongoing, eight of them being already permanently detained.

Countering Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal Migration Task Force Meeting

Bucharest, May 24th, 2017 - The 24th†Task Force Mirage on Countering Trafficking in Human Beings and Illegal Migration was held on 23 May 2017, at the SELEC premises in Bucharest/Romania, with the participation of law enforcement experts in the field from all SELEC Member States, as well as from Partner states and organizations.

Opening remarks were addressed by Mr. Romulus N. Ungureanu, Director for Operations and by Mr. Eliodor Tanislav, Mirage Task Force Manager, Romanian Liaison Officer posted at SELEC, who mentioned about the migration phenomenon that affected the region and about the potential connections to terrorist organizations, as emerged from the countries’ recent experiences.

SELEC support to its Member States and Partners in countering trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants was highlighted by Mr. Ungureanu, who encouraged the Member States to use SELEC channel and capabilities for the swift exchange of information, for the support in organizing joint investigations and regional operations and for the analytical products that are developed (read more) .

Course on heroin trafficking

During May 16-18, 2017, SELEC hosted at its training center, the course on heroin trafficking organized by CEPOL with the participation of law enforcement officers and prosecutors from EU and non-EU states.

Mr. Romulus N. Ungureanu, Director for Operations of SELEC, welcomed the participants and addressed opening remarks, providing a brief introduction of SELEC and its role, way of functioning and activities.

SELEC representatives delivered presentations, as speakers, introducing the key findings of the Report on Drug Seizures in Southeast Europe and presenting SELECís cooperation mechanism, as well as the successful joint investigations conducted within SELECís framework.

The Director General visit in Republic of Turkey

On May 5th, 2017 the Director General of SELEC, Mr. Toni Jakimovski, met with the Head of Istanbul Police Directorate, Mr. Mustafa†«aliskan and the Head of Istanbul Custom Regional Directorate, Mr. Halil Ibrahim Bozkus.

During the visits, Mr. Jakimovski †stated that SELEC puts together the resources of Police and Customs of both EU and non-EU countries, being a unique law enforcement organization that facilitates the swift exchange of information and coordinates joint investigations and regional operations in Southeast Europe.

The representatives of Turkish authorities and the representative of SELEC underlined the importance and the support of the Liaison Officers, and agreed to further enhance the cooperation in the framework of SELEC.

SELECís Annual Meeting of the Anti-Terrorism Task Force

The latest terrorist attacks in Europe and worldwide impel for a coordinated and effective response requiring enhanced cross-border cooperation among the Member States.

Considering that SELEC countries are developing a wide range of activities against terrorism and are adapting their national systems to better respond to these new threats, the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC) organized on 4th of May 2017, the 7th Meeting of the Anti-Terrorism Task Force, in Istanbul/ Republic of Turkey.

The Director General of SELEC, Mr. Toni Jakimovski, The Director for Operations, Mr. Romulus N. Ungureanu and the Task Force Manager, Mr. Murat Caliskan, addressed opening remarks and presented the activities recently developed in the framework of this Task Force, as well as highlighted SELECís support in the fight against terrorism.

The purpose of the meeting was to provide a forum in which experts from the Member Statesí law enforcement institutions can discuss regional trends in preventing and countering terrorism, and share their good practices and challenges encountered, which can be developed in areas for improvement for future actions.

The Anti-Terrorism Task Force was established by SELEC in 2003 and its being coordinated by Republic of Turkey.

U.S Department of Justice representatives visited SELEC

On April 27th 2017, the Director General of SELEC welcomed the visit of the U.S Department of Justice delegation consisting of Deputy Director of the Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT), Mr. Erick Peterson, †the Regional Director of the Central and Eastern Europe Office of OPDAT, Mr. Paul Vaky, and Deputy Assistant Director of the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), Mr. Stephen Fields.

The members of the delegation were interested about the latest developments in SELEC and the current activities of the prosecutorial network of SEEPAG, with a focus on the support provided by SELEC to the countries of the Southeast European region in their endeavors in fighting recent organized crime threats.

Having regard the long-term partnership with U.S.A, the subject of further enhancing the cooperation at operational level was reviewed.

SELEC awards the Montenegrin law enforcement officers

On April 21st 2017, at the Montenegrin Police Headquarters, Mr. Enes Bakovic, Deputy Director of Montenegrin Police Directorate, Chief of Sector for Criminalist Police handed over the certificates of honor to the case officers involved in the successful finalization of joint investigation ROVER conducted in the SELEC framework.

Operation ROVER, which targeted an organized criminal group dealing with smuggling of stolen vehicles, was carried out between Albanian and Montenegrin Police, with significant assistance and exchange of information with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbian and Croatian Police. The case succeeded with 11 persons arrested and 21 vehicles seized in Republic of Albania, whilst in Montenegro 8 persons were arrested and 28 vehicles seized.

Albanian law enforcement officers prized for the successful joint investigation ROVER

On April 19th 2017, at the Albanian State Police Headquarters in Tirana, the ceremony for granting the awards for the successful Operation ROVER was held in the presence of the General Director for Investigating Organized Crime and Serious Crimes, Mr. Ardian Cipa, the Director for Investigating Narcotics and Illicit Trafficking, Mr. Idajet Faskaj and the Albanian Police Liaison Officer posted at SELEC, Mr. Ervin Dervina.

With SELEC’s support,joint investigation ROVER, developed by Republic of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, which targeted an organized criminal group dealing with smuggling of stolen vehicles and other criminal acts connected with motor vehicles, succeeded with 11 persons arrested, 21 vehicles seized in Republic of Albania and 28 vehicles seized in Montenegro.

Bosnian officers prized by SELEC for a successful joint investigation concerning illegal migration

On April 18th, 2017, at the Headquarters of the Border Police of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, the ceremony for granting the awards for the successful Operation KABATAS was held in the presence of the Director of†Border Police, Mr. Zoran Galic, the Deputy Director of†Border Police, Mr. Zijad Srabovic and the Bosnian SELEC Liaison Officer, Mr. Eldar Jahic.

Operation KABATAS targeted an organized criminal group, dealing with migrants ‘smuggling. Taking advantage of the free visa regime and with the support of partners from various countries from Southeast Europe linked to the organized criminal group, 168 migrants illegally crossed the borders, with forged documents, in order to reach Western European countries.

Based on the platform provided by SELEC for an effective cooperation and rapid exchange of information, the operation was successfully finalized, the Bosnian law enforcement authorities involved being awarded by SELEC, as an appreciation for the outstanding joint collaboration and the results obtained.

Significant quantities of drugs seized by Albanian authorities

With SELEC’s support and based on the swift information exchange through the SELEC channel, on April 11th, 2017, the Albanian law enforcement authorities successfully finalized Operation ALIAS that targeted dismantling an organized criminal group dealing with drug trafficking. The joint investigation involved competent authorities from Republic of Albania, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Hellenic Republic.

Using the green border, the organized criminal group was trafficking cannabis from Republic of Albania directly to Hellenic Republic or through The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The joint investigation succeeded with 31 persons being arrested and 244,818 kg cannabis, 425 cannabis seeds, 1,3 kg heroin, 247, 3 gr cocaine being seized.

SELEC awards the Bulgarian law enforcement officers

On March 21st, 2017 the case officers that conducted the successful joint investigations Morning Star 2, Danube and Odza were awarded during the ceremony that took place during the annual activity evaluation of the Bulgarian General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime, in the presence of the Deputy Secretary General and all heads of departments from all county regions.

SELEC provided tailored support to the competent Bulgarian authorities during the above-mentioned prized operations, so that Operation Morning Star 2 succeeded with the seizure of 80 kg of heroin destined for Western Europe, Operation Danube finalized with the dismantling of an organized criminal group dealing with illegal production of tobacco and cigarettes smuggling, whilst during Operation Odza a quantity of 108 kg of marijuana was detained.

As a recognition of the significant results obtained through the efficient joint cooperation and swift exchange of information through SELEC’ secure channel, SELEC awards bi-annually several joint investigations conducted within SELEC’s framework.