SEE JAD 2023 – joint police operation with 26 European countries including the Republic of Moldova

Between November 13 and 18, 2023, the European joint operation SEE JAD 2023 (South East Europe Joint Action Days) took place in the Republic of Moldova, with the involvement of employees of the specialized and territorial subdivisions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Customs Service of the Republic of Moldova.

Operational actions at the regional level were implemented within the framework of EMPACT (European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats) under the auspices of EUROPOL, and at the national level under the auspices of the EU Security HUB.

In total, 26 countries in Europesupported by Europol, Eurojust, Frontex, INTERPOL and a number of international structures, participated in these large-scale coordinated operational activities.

The EMPACT Joint Action Days were planned on the basis of the constant exchange of information, in which international police forces, customs authorities, immigration agencies, border control agencies, gendarmerie and units of each state involved in the fight against organized crime in Europe, unitedly joined their forces.

The measures carried out within the SEE JAD 2023 aim to combat firearms trafficking, drug trafficking, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and the destruction of high-risk criminal networks.

The global results of EMPACT JAD 2023 are as follows:

• 22 488 officers involved;

• 163 investigations initiated;

• 288,774 total verified entities;

– 215,273 verified persons;

– 67,277 vehicles checked;

– 5,225 checked parcels/postal packages;

– 999 premises searched;

• 2,229 illegal entries detected;

• 566 arrests (218 related to migrant smuggling, 186 drug trafficking, 69 firearms trafficking, 89 other crimes);

• 114 falsified documents identified;

• Seizures, including:

– 310 weapons (84 automatic weapons, 65 pistols, 59 rifles, 22 grenade launchers, 16 revolvers, 7 carbines, 6 shotguns, 4 converted weapons, 2 air guns, 42 other type);

– 20,206 pieces of ammunition;

– Approx. a ton of drugs, including 626 kg of cocaine, almost 300 kg of cannabis, heroin and marijuana plants.

Also, under SEE JAD 2023, cyber patrol was established which focused on monitoring and investigation activities on various websites, forums and markets on the “clear” and “dark web” as well as messaging applications and social media networks. The “clear web” consists of public websites that are indexed in search engines, therefore allowing anyone to access them, while the “dark web” is the part that is only accessible through special software, allowing users and website operators to remain anonymous or untraceable.

The cyber patrol was aimed at detecting illicit firearms trafficking and gathering additional information on identified targets. Online investigations also focused on reconstruction activities that could assist operational actions on the ground. These investigations were conducted in the national languages of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Republic of Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Ukraine. Officers conducted these activities in sync with operational actions coordinated through the JAD Coordination Center in Skopje, North Macedonia.

During cyber patrol activities, investigators identified 120 targets (accounts and/or individuals) related to firearms trafficking, including 94 on a messaging app, 11 on marketplaces, and 10 on other “clear” websites” and 5 on the “dark web”.

According to the pre-established related legal framework, in all the activities carried out through the SEE JAD 2023 prism on the territory of the Republic of Moldova, 2 seconded experts from EUROPOL (Guest Officers) participated. Their mission was to provide operational support to the national law enforcement authorities, a fact that facilitated the verification in EUROPOL’s information systems to obtain the information of interest promptly and accurately.

The national mixed mobile teams involved in the SEE JAD 2023 activities have strengthened their efforts by operating in 16 state border crossing points, as well as on national roads in certain areas, at various strategic points. Checks and searches were also carried out at homes or other premises, in accordance with the operative information held by law enforcement bodies.

Thus, during the 5 operational days, the Republic of Moldova recorded tangible results in terms of preventing and combating transnational criminal activity according to the 5 categories: weapons, drugs, human trafficking, illegal migration and high-risk criminal networks; as follows:
– 2570 people checked in total, of which 11 people were arrested (both Moldovan and foreign citizens), 102 people were refused exit from the country (mostly Ukrainian citizens), 14 people were refused entry to the territory of the Republic of Moldova (foreign citizens, not meeting the strict conditions);

– 526 verified means of transport;

– 77 homes and other verified premises, including shooting ranges, specialized stores for weapons, ammunition and accessories, etc.;

– 214 checked parcels and luggage;

– 4 firearms and ammunition detected and confiscated due to the illegal circuit;

– 4 firearms together with legally owned ammunition, equipment and accessories were detected and temporarily seized for violation of the conditions of storage / negligent storage, and another 30 firearms were temporarily removed from the civilian circuit until the violations of the conditions of possession are removed;

– drugs detected and seized for illegal circulation (quantity indicated as an approximation): 7.61 kg. drugs of the “hashish” type, 43 gr. marijuana-type drugs, 17 gr. drugs of the PVP type, 7 gr. drugs of the “MDMA” type, 2 gr. “heroin” and “himari” type drugs, 1 gr. with plant substance with a specific drug smell;

– other goods, objects detected and seized: 2 projectiles (non-dangerous), financial means in the amount of approx. 2100 EUR, 7500 packs of cigarettes, 9 mobile phones, SIM cards and other electronic devices.

Also, law enforcement bodies initiated 65 investigations, based on violations and criminal actions committed related to illegal migration, human trafficking and drug trafficking. As for the “firearms” priority, in the public order and security chapter, 92 reports regarding the contravention were drawn up for various violations of the circuit of weapons and ammunition for civilian use, and 49 activities were organized and carried out for the purpose informing citizens about the legal conditions for keeping weapons and ammunition, encouraging them to voluntarily hand over illegally possessed weapons and ammunition, the conditions being explained in this regard in order to be exempted from criminal liability.

At the national level, the operational activities were managed and coordinated by the National Coordination Group consisting of 16 employees representing various institutions involved in the operation.

At the regional and international level, the Republic of Moldova was represented by an employee of the General Police Inspectorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who was present throughout the operational phase at the Operational Command Center established in Skopje, North Macedonia, to facilitate international cooperation and respond to operational needs on the ground.

SEE JAD 2023 confirmed that together we can be stronger. All the results obtained with the help of European partners underline the commitment of the Moldovan authorities in maintaining a safe environment in the country and in the entire European region, taking a new step towards strengthening citizens’ trust in national efforts to combat cross-border criminality.

General information about the parties participating in all days of joint action:

  • EU Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. 
  • Non-EU countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Türkiye, Ukraine and United Kingdom. 
  • EU agencies: Europol, Eurojust and Frontex.
  • International and institutional partners: EUBAM, IPA/2019 (EU co-funded projects: “EU Support to Strengthen the Fight against Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings in the Western Balkans” and “Countering serious crime in the Western Balkans), INTERPOL, PCC SEE (Police Cooperation Convention for Southeast Europe Secretariat), SEESAC (South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons), SELEC (Southeast European Law Enforcement Center), UNDP and UNODC. 

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.