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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)

SELEC awards Romanian Law Enforcement officers

Bucharest, December 7th 2016 - The ceremony for granting SELEC awards to the Romanian Law Enforcement officers was held today at the Headquarters of the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police in the presence of SELEC Director for Operations, Mr. Romulus Ungureanu, the General Inspector of the Romanian Police, Mr. Bogdan Despescu and the Deputy of the General Inspector, Mr. Virgil Spiridon.

The Director for Operations of SELEC together with the General Inspector offered the certificates of honor and appreciation for the joint investigations codenamed RED COAST, MONEY MULLES and LIGHTNING supported by SELEC during the first half of 2016, through the swift exchange of information and organization of operational meetings.

The Operation “Money Mulles”, in the field of cybercrime, was a joint investigation involving the competent authorities from Republic of Moldova and Romania, which led to the prosecution of 47 suspects and seizure of computer systems, data storage devices, bank documents and false Romanian ID documents.

Operation “Red Coast” targeted dismantling an organized criminal group dealing with credit card frauds. The joint operation conducted by the law enforcement authorities from Romania and Republic of Bulgaria resulted in the arrest of 10 persons and seizure of 32 electronic skimming devices, 4 laptops, 12 mobile phones, payment cards, money, 3 vehicles.

SELEC also provided support to the competent authorities of Republic of Bulgaria and Romania that conducted a joint investigation targeting to identify the Romanian perpetrators suspected of committing fraud and robbery offences on the territory of Republic of Bulgaria. A Special diploma was granted for this Operation codenamed “Lightning” that was finalized in only two action days following a swift exchange of information through SELEC.

SELEC awards bi-annually the successful operations conducted by the law enforcement authorities of its Member States as an appreciation for the excellent results obtained through the joint investigations accomplished through SELEC.

The outcome of the project “Countering Trafficking in Persons” presented during the Priority Area 11 Steering Group meeting

During 22-23 November 2016, the XI Meeting of the Steering Group of the Priority area 11 of the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region was held in Munich. The agenda of the event was focused on briefing of the finalized projects and initiatives, and presentation of the ongoing activities within Priority Area 11 “Security”.

Mrs. Snejana Maleeva, Director for Legal and Internal Affairs, as Member of the Steering Committee, presented the results of two of the activities developed with EUSDR support, namely the “Workshop on exploring the possibilities for cooperation between customs and police authorities in drug trafficking” and the project “Countering Trafficking in Persons” developed in 2016 within START 2nd call programme.

The Priority Area Coordinator announced that SELEC’s project “Countering Trafficking in Persons” was one of the five most successfully implemented projects out of 48 projects developed within EUSDR, being considered as a very good example of efficient cooperation and significant results.

Operational meeting on Terrorist Groups organized by SELEC with the support of Turkish authorities

On 23 November 2016, an operational meeting of the Anti - Terrorism Task Force’ Subgroup on Terrorist Groups was held in Istanbul/ Republic of Turkey, with the participation of experts specialized in countering terrorism and terrorist organizations, from SELEC Member States.

The event was opened by Mr. Murat Caliskan, Anti -Terrorism Task Force Manager, made an overview of the current situation in the SELEC Member States and underlined the continuous support provided by SELEC to the law enforcement authorities.

During the meeting the participants presented national experiences and challenges in countering terrorism and fighting terrorist organizations, shared success stories, challenges, lessons learns and also made recommendations for improvements and future actions in this area.

The purpose of the meeting was to provide a forum in which participants can discuss the current terrorism threats in Southeast Europe, new modus operandi and trends of terrorist organizations, share good practices, with the overall aim of enhancing cooperation and decide on the potential directions to be followed at regional level.  The event offered the opportunity for discussing practical aspects in fighting terrorism and for exchanging operational information and proposing new joint investigations.

Operational meetings are part of the pro-active approach of SELEC in increasing operational support to its Member States in fighting terrorism and facilitating the exchange of information in this regard.

Operation "The Pack" targeting people smuggling led to several arrests

With the support of SELEC, on 19 of November 2016, the Bulgarian and Serbian law enforcement authorities concluded Operation THE PACK  targeting an organized criminal group dealing with illegal migration. The migrants, having Afghan origins and heading towards Western Europe countries, were captured at the Bulgarian/Serbian border.

Following the swift exchange of information through SELEC the joint investigation succeeded with the arrest of 5 traffickers and 26 migrants, and seizure of 8 vehicles used for smuggling. Legal means were used, as the offenders tried to escape arrest.

Further results are expected as the investigation is still ongoing.

The 13th session of the SELEC Council

Bucharest, November 17th, 2016 - In the framework of the 13th session of the Council, high level representatives of Police and Customs from SELEC Member States, as well as members of the Council and SELEC Partners’ delegates, gathered today at the SELEC Headquarters in Bucharest/Romania, to celebrate SELEC’s 5th anniversary.

SELEC’s main achievements and activities were introduced to the audience by Mr. Toni Jakimovski, SELEC Director General, who presented with this occasion an outlook of the future of SELEC. Thus, in line with these objectives, bilateral meetings took place with the view of discussing the possibilities to further enhance the cooperation with the Member States and Partners’ law enforcement authorities.

According to the rotation procedure provided by the Rules of Procedure of the Council, the Chairmanship was transferred to Montenegro and the Vice- Chairmanship to Republic of Croatia.

As a recognition of the significant contribution to the work of SELEC, Certificates of Honor were awarded to Mr. Fredolin Lecari, representative of Republic of Moldova and Mr. Aleksandar Todosiev, representative of The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Chairman and respectively the Vice- Chairman of the Council during year 2016.

The Council, SELEC’s highest decision-making body, has regular annual meetings, the next session of the Council being tentatively scheduled for May 2017.

Container Security Task Force Meeting

The 9th meeting of the Container Security Task Force organized by SELEC was held on 15th of November 2016 in Bucharest/Romania, with the participation of representatives from SELEC Member States and partners, such as French Republic, INTERPOL, Kingdom of Spain, Ukraine, UNODC and USA.

The Director for Operations of SELEC, Mr. Romulus Ungureanu, and the Task Force Coordinator, Mrs. Aggeliki Matsouka, made an overview of the past and future activities to be developed within the framework of the Task Force.

Container shipping is the most common way of bringing large quantities of commercial goods all over the world; however, containers may not be exclusively used for the transport of legal commodities. Organized criminal groups use containers for transporting different illicit commodities such as drugs and drug precursors, smuggled cigarettes, counterfeit goods, hazardous waste, dual use goods, a/o.

SELEC Member States’ experts discussed on the current situation in the Container Security field, namely the new trends, challenges encountered, investigations conducted and made proposals in this regard, overall aiming at strengthening regional cooperation and set the potential directions to be followed. (read more)

Almost 100 illegal migrants apprehended during a joint action supported by SELEC

The Bulgarian law enforcement authorities joined forces with the Turkish Police in the Operation codenamed TAKSIM which targeted dismantling an organized criminal group which was involved in illegal migration.

On 6th of November 2016, based on the information received from the Bulgarian law enforcement authorities, the Turkish Police managed to detain two traffickers and stop 27 migrants, originating from Syria, Iraq and Bangladesh, that were attempting crossing illegally, by boat, the Aegean sea, heading towards Greece. During the same operation, the following day, in Bodrum, two other organizers and 72 illegal migrants were arrested.

The investigation was initiated 3 months ago following the exchange of information facilitated by the Bulgarian and Turkish Liaison Officers and one operational meeting supported by SELEC.

The case is ongoing, further results being expected to be reported.

Stolen Vehicles Task Force Meeting

Bucharest, November 9th, 2016 - Vehicle crime can be regarded as subject to basic economic principles, cost/benefit ratio and demand/supply principle, as the organized criminal groups have a high level of organization and coordination, permanently exploiting the opportunities to increase profits.
In the constant effort to support the Member States’ law enforcement authorities to prevent and counter this crime, on the 8th of November 2016, SELEC organized at its premises the 13th meeting of the Stolen Vehicles Task Force.

The Director for Operations of SELEC, Mr. Romulus Nicolae Ungureanu, and the Task Force Manager, Mr. Endre Hosszu, chaired the meeting and addressed the participants from SELEC Member States and partner’ countries. (read more)

The Director General of SELEC meets the Deputy Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina

On 28 October 2016, Mr. Toni Jakimovski, Director General of SELEC, met with the Deputy Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr. Mijo Kresic.

During the visit, Mr. Jakimovski mentioned the good cooperation established between Bosnia and Herzegovina and SELEC in preventing and countering organized crime.

In order to enhance the law enforcement cooperation, the Director General encouraged the Bosnian officials to use more the SELEC platform for exchanging information, highlighting the benefits for Bosnian Police and Customs authorities.

Mr. Jakimovski also underlined the role and the importance of supporting the Liaison Officer posted at SELEC, being the direct communication link with the Member State’ competent authorities.

The parties agreed to continue providing assistance and join the efforts for further fighting organized crime and make the region more secure.

SELEC Director for Operations attended the Santa Marta Group Conference

Police chiefs, bishops, religious sisters, representatives from civil society, members of the Santa Marta Group, as well as representatives of international organizations such as SELEC and Europol, joined on 26 - 27 October 2016, in the Vatican, to share and encourage good practices in the struggle against human trafficking.

“Trafficking in human beings is a hideous  crime which affects our society and represents a modern day slavery. It is up to all the stakeholders to take action against it and to diminish the terrible effects of exploitation of human beings through a concerted effort toward securing and rescuing the victims and dismantle the organised crime groups operating in this area. This event represents an excellent model of how different institutions, organisations and civil society are working together for the benefit of the citizens “ Mr. Romulus Ungureanu, SELEC Director for Operations, said on this occasion.

The Santa Marta Group, launched in 2014, is an alliance of international police chiefs and bishops from around the world working together with civil society in a process endorsed by Pope Francis, to eradicate human trafficking and modern day slavery.

SELEC hosted the Pan-European Conference on Assets Recovery

Bucharest, October 25th 2016 - The 6th Pan- European High Level Conference on Assets Recovery Offices, organized by the Romanian National Agency for Management of Seized Assets was held in the period 19-21 October 2016, with the participation of experts in the field of recovery of proceeds of crime from EU and non-EU states, representatives from specialized Romanian institutions, as well as from several European agencies.

The aim of the conference was to discuss issues related to the identification and tracing of criminal assets and to share Member States’ practices on confiscation.

SELEC hosted one day of the conference, during which the Director General of SELEC, Mr. Toni Jakimovski, made an extensive presentation of SELEC, it’s mission, activities and results, highlighting that an effective regional law enforcement cooperation is essential for preventing and countering transborder organized crime in the Southeast European region.