In the period 12-13 November 2019, in the framework of Project SIRAS- Strengthening the fight against firearms trafficking in Southeastern Europe, SELEC organized in Sofia/Republic of Bulgaria an Interdisciplinary Workshop aiming to explore the connections between firearms and drug trafficking, with the participation of Police and Customs experts from all SELEC Member States and representatives of SELEC’s Operational Partners and Observers, such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK (NCA), USA (DEA), Interpol, Europol and RILO ECE.
Opening remarks were addressed by Mrs. Snejana Maleeva, Director General of SELEC, Mr. Valentin Niculescu, Director for Operations of SELEC, Mr. Ivaylo Spiridonov, Director of the Bulgarian Chief Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Mr. Georgi Kostov, Director of the Customs Administration of Republic of Bulgaria.
The representatives of the SELEC Management mentioned the importance of the topic, as drugs trafficking and firearms trafficking are interlinked criminal activities that pose a serious threat in the region. SELEC’s 20 years of activity in the area of law enforcement cooperation are a proof of its successful commitment towards working together in fighting cross-border serious and organized crime. With this occasion SELEC Management thanked the Bulgarian authorities for their continued participation and cooperation.
Mr. Spiridonov appreciated the long-lasting partnership with SELEC and the opportunities offered by SELEC and by Project SIRAS through this workshop, for experts to exchange views and best practices, which will improve cooperation and capacity building at all levels.
During the meeting Mr. Kostov stated that in order for the law enforcement authorities to efficiently fight organized crime, a common effort is required from all the experts (border control, illegal migration, money laundering etc.). This workshop was an opportunity to share success stories and set future actions.
Member countries representatives presented significant cases showing links between firearms trafficking and drugs trafficking, i.e national and international joint investigations, challenges and good practices, ways in which drug trafficking groups procure their firearms, delivery and disposal methods, barter trades, latest modi operandi regarding transport and concealment of drugs and firearms, the main purpose of the firearms possession – trafficking/use, the types of firearms prevailing, etc.
The 2019 Draft Annual Drug Report for Southeast Europe, the activities within project SIRAS, as well as SELEC Associated Firearms Experts Network (SAFE-N) were also presented during the meeting.