SPANISH police have led a Joint Action Day involving 30 countries targeting Balkan criminal gangs.
The Joint Action Day (JAD) Western Balkans 2019 involved 6,758 law enforcement officers from 30 countries. Their priorities were tackling firearms trafficking, illegal immigration, document fraud and drugs trafficking.
The preparatory phase began in early 2019 with several operational meetings and intelligence-gathering activities, as well as controls at selected border control points. The EMPACT Firearms working group – led by Spain, coordinated the operation. Europol coordinated the deployment of mobile offices to analyse information on-the-spot.
From September 5 to 8 a coordination centre was set up at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague to support the exchange of intelligence among the participants.
Frontex tackled cross-border crime at the EU external borders and contributed to the operation by performing intensified controls at selected border crossing points and border surveillance activities as part of its ongoing field activities in the region.
In total, 214 147 people, vehicles, and premises were checked during the operation in the fight against crime originating from the Western Balkans. Police made 175 arrests (26 arrests in the intelligence phase and 149 in the operational phase).
Due to the heightened police scrutiny a total of 329 people were refused entry at external borders, 164 clandestine entries were uncovered, 111 overstayers reported, 14 visa fraud or misuse cases found. 71 instances of forged or falsified documents discovered, and 51 firearms with 895 pieces of ammunition were seized.
The countries involved in the operation were: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Cyprus, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Alania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Switzerland, Moldova and the USA.