SEESAC’s contribution to EMAPCT Joint Action Days South East Europe 2023

SEESAC actively supported the coordinated EMPACT Joint Action Days South East Europe (EMPACT JAD SEE) from 13 to 18 November 2023. During this period, law enforcement authorities from 26 European countries, with the support from Europol, Eurojust, Frontex, INTERPOL, and various international actors collaborated intensively to target firearms trafficking, drug trafficking, migrant smuggling, and trafficking in human beings, as well as to dismantle high-risk criminal networks.

Through its multifaceted contribution, SEESAC played an important role in supporting the preparation of the JAD SEE. This included organizing workshops  in April and September for the development of an intelligence collection strategy, as well as facilitating discussions on the preliminary results of the collection phase. Additionally, SEESAC presented findings from a regional threat assessment of firearms trafficking and misuse, that SEESAC is developing based on close collaboration with the criminal police services in the region, which is the main precondition for risk analysis and planning of both preventive and repressive activities in the area of SALW control. EMPACT JAD SEE 2023 also saw the practical use of Standard Operating Procedures drafted by SEESAC for criminal and border police, specifically addressing firearms trafficking, detection, and emergency situations. To complement these activities, SEESAC collaborated with Frontex and conducted firearm detection training for the border police services.

As an integral part of the JAD SEE 2023 operational phase, cyber patrolling involved synchronized online investigations to complement operational actions on the ground. In collaboration with the Ministry of Interior in Skopje and Empact, SEESAC supported the participation of cyber patrollers, one from each Western Balkans jurisdiction, during the coordinated cyber patrolling by providing logistical assistance and relevant equipment. This cyber patrolling initiative targeted various online platforms, including the clear and dark web, messaging applications, and social media networks, with a primary focus on detecting illicit firearms trafficking and gathering additional intelligence on identified targets. These investigations were conducted in native languages by officers from Albania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Ukraine.

During the cyber patrolling activities, investigators identified 120 targets associated with firearms trafficking. Among these, 94 were on messaging applications, 11 on marketplaces, 10 on other clear websites, and 5 on the dark web.

Organized with an intelligence-led approach, the EMPACT JAD 2023 involved collaboration among police, customs, immigration, and border control agencies. The initiative encompassed intensified checks at the EU's external borders and special operations across involved countries, with a coordination center in Skopje, North Macedonia, overseeing the international collaboration.

The EMPACT JAD 2023 yielded remarkable global results in the fight against organized crime. Over 22,000 officers from 26 countries actively participated, initiating 163 investigations and checking 288,774 entities, including individuals, vehicles, postal packages, and premises. The coordinated action led to the detection of 2,229 illegal entries and a total of 566 arrests, targeting offences such as migrant smuggling, drug trafficking, firearms trafficking, and other crimes. Additionally, the operations successfully identified 114 forged documents and resulted in significant seizures, encompassing 310 firearms, 20,206 pieces of ammunition, and almost one ton of drugs.

These accomplishments mark a significant step forward in combating criminal networks. Through its involvement in the EMPACT JAD SEE 2023, SEESAC underscored its commitment to regional cooperation, SALW control and capacity building, aiming to make a lasting impact on regional security.


* For the United Nations Development Programme, references to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council resolution 1244 (1999). For the European Union, 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.