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International police and judiciary cooperation against drug trafficking

In the early morning of 29th September 2022, following the instructions of the competent public prosecutor from the Basic Public Prosecution for Suppression of Organized Crime and Corruption of the Republic of North Macedonia (BPPSOCC), police officers belonging to the Department for Criminal Police and Special Anti-Terrorist Unit supported by their colleagues from the regional police offices of Gostivar, Tetovo and Kumanovo conducted a coordinated action and executed searches at four locations in the area of ​​ Gostivar, Tetovo and Kumanovo. In the action, three people were deprived of liberty, and during the searches the police officers found and seized the following items: a large amount of narcotic drugs (cocaine and marijuana), four vehicles (two of them with Croatian national markings), one quadricycle and one motorcycle, two guns, a large amount of ammunition, mobile phones, SIM cards, cash in Macedonian denars and euros, as well as several receipts for performed financial transactions. Against the three arrested persons, the Ministry of Interior submitted criminal charges to the BPPSOCC for suspicion of having committed the crime of unauthorized production and release for trade of narcotics, psychotropic substances and precursors provided for and punishable under article 215 and for criminal association from article 394 of the Penal Code, while the competent public prosecutor from the BPPSOCC submitted a proposal for detention against these persons to the preliminary procedure judge of the Basic Criminal Court in Skopje.

The regional project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans, being firmly dedicated and continuously providing direct support to the institutions of the Western Balkans beneficiary countries aimed at strengthening their cross-border cooperation in concrete cases in the fight against trans-national serious and organized crime, once again supported the North Macedonian Police and the BPPSOCC in this concrete case. Namely, in two occasions, in March and in September this year, police officers from the Department for Criminal Police and the competent prosecutor from the BPPSOCC, under the umbrella of the support provided by CSCWB in the form of legal advice, as well as a logistical and financial one, participated in two operative meetings in Croatia where they exchanged relevant intelligence and information on the targeted criminal group with their Croatian counterparts, at the same time creating strategy for dismantling of this international chain of drugs smuggling.

The action of the North Macedonian law enforcement agencies was carried out on the back of several months of parallel criminal investigation conducted by the Department for Criminal Police of the North Macedonian Ministry of Interior and the BPPSOCC together with their Croatian counterparts from the Anti-Drug Department of the Police Administration of Istria County and the Office for Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK) of the Republic of Croatia. As a result, preceding the operation in North Macedonia, on the territory of Croatia on 23rd September, in a synchronized and coordinated operation between the Croatian and the North Macedonian law enforcement agencies, five persons (one Macedonian and four Croatian citizens) were arrested, while 3,9 kg of heroin were seized. The group had been illegally selling heroin on the illegal drug market in the area of ​​​​Istria, Zagreb and Split since September last year, while the drug was transported from North Macedonia to the territory of the Republic of Croatia through various channels. Using this route and channels, the group is suspected to have sold more than 4 kg. of heroine having gained around 80.000 euro.

The CSC WB project stands ready and committed to support the needs of the Western Balkans beneficiaries’ in identifying interactions and inter-linkages for an effective and coordinated international police and judicial cooperation, thus building the mutual trust and ensuring long-term professional relationship with the law enforcement community.

The article was also published by the Macedonian Ministry of Interior and the BPPSOCC: