World Border Security Congress2018-03-15 08:55:13

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Frontex Analysis: Countering organised crime at sea
 
Organised crime groups often use sea routes to smuggle illegal goods to Europe. In large part this means significant amounts of drugs on different sea routes. 
 
Big cocaine shipments are smuggled directly from Latin America to Europe through transatlantic routes hidden in shipping containers and concealed compartments of various types of vessels.
 
Cannabis is smuggled to Western and Central Europe via the Adriatic Sea on speed boats and ferries from Albanian ports. 
 
Hashish often reaches Spanish ports smuggled from the Moroccan coast on speed boats.  
 
It is estimated that about 80 tonnes of Afghan heroin are smuggled to Western and Central Europe each year through the Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey and South-Eastern Europe. Most of it reaches Europe via the ‘Balkan route’. 
 
It has different branches and remains a key corridor for drug smuggling. It links Afghanistan and Iran to Turkey, from where drugs are transported to Europe by sea or by land.
 
The drug trade is only one example of cross-border criminal activities which also include cigarettes, firearms and counterfeit products, particularly medicines. 
 
Cigarette smuggling has been an important source of revenue for international organised crime.
 
Illicit trade in firearms also offers huge profits, which enable various criminal groups to finance other criminal activities.
 
The role of Frontex in combatting crime at sea
 
The agency coordinates surveillance and multipurpose operations that cover specific areas of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean to assist EU Member States in fighting cross-border crime at sea. 
 
In addition to border control, multipurpose operations cover tasks related to maritime safety, security, search and rescue and environmental protection.
 
In 2017, 137 tonnes of illegal drugs were seized in Frontex operations, a 44% rise from the previous year.  
 
This  significant  increase  was  mainly  due  to  numerous  detections  of  shipments of marijuana and hashish across operational areas.
 
Last year, seven times as many smuggled cigarettes were seized in the Western, Central and Eastern Mediterranean than in 2016.
 
Read the full story on maritime cross-border crime to Europe in our Risk Analysis for 2018 (p. 32-33).

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