Police in Europe and Turkey have arrested 382 people during raids involving 28 countries against traffickers operating mainly in the Balkans and southeastern Europe, Europol said on Friday.
Most of the individuals arrested last month have been charged with immigration, firearms or drug smuggling, the National Police Agency said in a statement.
Thousands of trucks make their way to the EU via Balkan routes, carrying a variety of goods such as food and construction materials.
The route is also “notorious” for smuggling migrants and for smuggling firearms and drugs into the block, Europol said.
At a Bulgarian checkpoint in Kapitan Andrevo on the border with Turkey, AFP witnessed on October 28 that authorities found migrants hiding on the roof of a truck.
The operation was coordinated by Europol and Spain and involved about 16,000 police officers from Europe and Turkey, the National Police Agency said.
Other European countries also provided criminal information.
Europol said police seized 106 firearms and drugs, including cannabis and cocaine, during the massive raid.
According to Europol, transnational criminal organizations source their weapons primarily from the Western Balkans, where “manpower with firearms expertise is widely available.”
The firearms are then trafficked to the European Union (mainly Belgium, France, Germany, Holland and Spain).
Criminal networks can trade weapons for drugs and use them to “control and maintain lucrative drug markets,” Europol said.
https://www.expatica.com/nl/general/police-arrest-more-than-380-people-in-balkan-smuggler-swoop-387044/ Police arrest over 380 in Balkan smuggler raid