Combating OCGs on Western Balkan routes

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06 December 2017
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CEPOL

The 2017 portfolios of CEPOL and European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) included two joint courses on migration. These two activities put the focus on investigative measures against organised criminal groups (OCGs) involved in migrant smuggling, as they were considered priorities in the EMPACT Facilitation of Immigration Operational Action Plan (OAP) for 2017.

Thanks to a joint procurement with the Italian Centre of Excellence Altiero Spinelli, a first seminar on combating OCGs on the Mediterranean routes (8/2017) was organised at the University of Rome Tre from 17 to 20 October 2017.

The second activity “combating OCGs on Western Balkans routes” (7/2017) was organised by CEPOL from Tuesday 17 to Friday 20 November 2017. 41 prosecutors, judges and Law Enforcement officials representing 15 European member States and 4 Western Balkan countries gathered in Budapest (Hungary) during three intensive working days. They had to jointly investigate a virtual smuggling case in the Western Balkans region, involving several European and non-European countries. Experts from Europol, Frontex, Interpol, Austria, Hungary, together with representatives from EMPACT FII Driving team and Western Union provided support and advice across the different workshops and simulations.

The two seminars aimed at improving proactive criminal and financial investigations against OCGs, by using the resources of the EU agencies and large-scale information systems, the Joint Investigation Teams instrument, seizure, recovery and confiscation of criminal assets etc.

Again, a mixed audience of judicial authorities and Law Enforcement officials proved to be an appropriate and motivating blend for this type of activity.
Comment from one participant, among other:

"(…) gathering law enforcement with EJTN is a great idea; even though everything may be improved, you are doing an excellent job. Keep going forwards in this blueprint!"

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