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The Director General of SELEC met Croatian law enforcement officials

On 14 of March 2017, the Director General of SELEC, Mr. Toni Jakimovski, paid a visit to Republic of Croatia, where he met with high officials of the Police and Customs authorities.

During the meetings with the General Police Director, Mr. Marko Srdarevic and the Director General of Customs Administration, Mr. Hrvoje Covic, Croatia’s position in SELEC was discussed, as well as the need of posting a Croatian Liaison Officer at the SELEC Headquarters in order to facilitate the rapid exchange of information through SELEC channel and to further strengthen the cooperation at operational level with SELEC and its Member States.

Mr. Jakimovski mentioned the benefits of the regional cooperation in the framework of SELEC and the support offered to its Member States in the information exchanges and assistance requests’ process, as well in conducting joint investigations and regional operations with the common aim of preventing and countering organized crime in Southeast Europe.

SELEC hosted the Conference on preventing and detection of the illicit traffic of tobacco products

Bucharest, March 16th 2017 - SELEC hosted today at its premises the Conference on preventing and detection of the illicit traffic of tobacco products organized by the Romanian Customs General Directorate with the participation of heads of customs services from Republic of Bulgaria, Hungary, Republic of Moldova, Republic of Serbia and Ukraine, as well as customs attaches to Romania, directors of the regional customs directorate of Romania, representatives of EUBAM and of the main cigarettes’ manufacturers.

The conference aimed discussing aspects related to the inter-institutional cooperation among the customs administrations in the region and debriefing the targeted monitoring operation codenamed “Shield” conducted in February 2017 by the customs services of Romania and its neighboring countries, in order to detect and counteract the illicit traffic of tobacco products.

Opening remarks were addressed by Mr. Dorel Fronea, Vice President of the Romanian National Agency for Fiscal Administration, Mr. Ionut Misa, Secretary of State, Ministry of Finance of Romania, Mr. Bogdan - Nicolae Stan, President of the Romanian National Agency for Fiscal Administration and the Director for Operations of SELEC, Mr. Romulus Ungureanu.

Mr. Ungureanu presented the objective and activities of SELEC, with a focus on the smuggling of cigarettes phenomenon in the region, highlighting the endeavors of the SELEC Member States in preventing and combating this type of crime. The Director for Operations of SELEC also mentioned that smuggling of cigarettes causes significant financial losses for the states’ revenues and that all available tools should be used in order to tackle this crime more effectively.

Visit of the Ambassador of Belarus in Romania

Bucharest, March 1st 2017 - The Director General of SELEC, Mr. Toni Jakimovski, received today at the SELEC Headquarters, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Belarus in Romania, H.E Andrei M. Grinkevich who was accompanied by Mr. Yuri Lapko, Consul, First Secretary.

The purpose of the visit was discussing the intention of Republic of Belarus to become an Observer to SELEC, acknowledging the importance of the rapid exchange of information and participation in the joint investigations supported by SELEC.

Currently, 18 countries and organizations are Observers to SELEC, the SELEC Council being the highest decision-making body that grants this status.

Successful operation conducted by Bulgarian and Turkish authorities in the field of cultural heritage objects smuggling

On 20 of February 2017, the Bulgarian and Turkish law enforcement institutions successfully finalized two actions related to an operation codenamed PEKOM targeting dismantling an organized criminal group dealing with cultural heritage objects’ smuggling.

After an extensive exchange of information and several operational meetings supported by SELEC, the Bulgarian and Turkish authorities agreed to proceed by supervising the criminal activities of the organized criminal group consisting in Bulgarian and Turkish citizens, using special investigative methods and maintaining open communication regarding the routes and actions of the suspects.

During the first action that took place at the end of December 2016, two members of the organized criminal group were arrested while attempting to cross the Bulgarian/Turkish border with 170 artifacts, ancient byzantine coins, several  roman denarius’s, byzantine solidus, roman golden rings, statues, a/o.

As a follow up, in a second action of the same operation, the Turkish authorities managed to apprehend in Istanbul two Turkish citizens smuggling a number of 778 pieces of artifacts, ancient byzantine coins, several  roman denarius’s, byzantine solidus, roman golden rings, a/o.

The total value of the seized items is approximately 700.000 Euro.

The operation is still ongoing, further results being expected.

Visit of the Ambassador of Republic of Bulgaria

Bucharest, February 7th, 2017 - The Ambassador of Republic of Bulgaria in Bucharest, H.E. Mr. Todor Ivanov Churov, visited today the SELEC Headquarters, being welcomed by Mr. Toni Jakimovski, Director General of SELEC, and Mrs. Snejana Maleeva, Director for Legal and Internal Affairs.

The key activities of SELEC and SEEPAG were presented, being mentioned the exchange of information and joint investigations’ increasing trend during the years. During the meeting it was also highlighted the Bulgarian contribution to the fulfillment of SELEC mission of countering trans-border organized crime in Southeast Europe.

The Director General of SELEC visited Europol

Bucharest, January 25th 2017 - The Director General of SELEC, Mr. Toni Jakimovski, visited Europol Headquarters where he met the Director of Europol, Mr. Rob Wainwright and the Deputy Director of the Operations Department, Mr. Wil van Gemert.

The discussions focused on strengthening and further enhancing the cooperation between SELEC and Europol, both parties recognizing the necessity and importance of joining efforts in the fight against transnational organized crime.

SELEC and Europol signed a Letter of Intent in 2010 with a view of developing, within the field of their competences, closer regional law enforcement cooperation.

Connections with terrorist groups identified during Turkish Operation KABATAS, supported by SELEC, targeting smuggling of migrants

Following notifications received through the SELEC channel and several operational meetings supported by SELEC, on 29 September 2016, the Turkish National Police initiated an investigation codenamed KABATAS against an organized criminal group, based in Istanbul, dealing with migrants’ smuggling.

This transnational organized criminal group consisted in smaller entities, with various modus operandi, migrants being smuggled either across land borders or by plane, while bribing airport officers, and using forged travel documents or a facilitator. Partners from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Bulgaria, Republic of Croatia, Montenegro, Romania, Republic of Serbia and Republic of Slovenia, linked to this organized criminal group, supported the illegal border crossing of Turkish nationals along the Western Balkans countries, taking advantage of the free visa regime applicable in these countries, in order to reach Western Europe.

168 migrants and 11 persons suspected for “producing or arranging forged documents” and for “migrant smuggling” were apprehended during the 32 actions that took place at national and international level. Turkish authorities cooperated in this investigation with the police departments of Republic of Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Bulgaria, Republic of Croatia, Federal Republic of Germany, Italian Republic, Hungary, Kosovo*, Montenegro, Romania, Republic of Serbia and Republic of Slovenia. Most of the detained Turkish migrants were wanted, as being involved in various factions of idiosyncratic terrorist organizations.

On 24 December 2016 at 6.00 a.m. a simultaneous operation was conducted in three Turkish towns  and led to the arrest of 35 persons involved in the smuggling of migrants. Following house searches, several firearms, close to 100 passports and materials used for producing fraudulent documents were seized.

Currently, 12 fugitive suspects are being searched in the Republic of Turkey and investigations for dismantling the transnational links of the criminal migrants ‘smuggling organization are still ongoing in the other involved countries.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

The Regional Director of USA Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training visited SELEC

Bucharest, December 16th, 2016 - The SELEC Management received today the visit of Mr. Paul Vaky, Regional Director, Central and Eastern Europe Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT) accompanied by Ms. Monica Custura, Legal Advisor, Intellectual Property Law Enforcement Coordinator (IPLEC).

During the meeting, SELEC and SEEPAG missions, objectives, way of functioning were presented, being highlighted the role and importance of SELEC and SEEPAG in the fight against trans- border organized crime in the Southeast European region. The possibilities of enhancing the cooperation between the parties was also the topic of the discussions.

Mr. Toni Jakimovski, SELEC Director General, offered Mr. Vaky a plaquette of appreciation for the successful long term partnership between SELEC and USA.

80 kg of heroin seized during a joint investigation supported by SELEC

On December 3rd, 2016, the Bulgarian and Turkish law enforcement authorities succesfully suppressed an organized criminal group dealing with drug trafficking from Republic of Turkey, via Republic of Bulgaria,to Western Europe countries.

The joint investigation codenamed Morning Star 2 resulted in the seizure of 80 kg of heroin hidden in two suitcases in a trunk of a vehicle. Following this operation, two traffickers were apprehended,currently being under arrest.

The swift exchange of information and international coordination was facilitated by SELEC, which provided support during the whole investigation.

The case is still ongoing. (read more)