INTELLIGENCE

Romanian police officers, rewarded for disbanding migrant, contraband smuggling ring

Officers of the Organised Crime Combat Directorate of the Romanian Police on Friday were rewarded by Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre (SELEC) for professionalism and achievements as part of a SETRA mission to disband a migrant and contraband smuggling ring, the Romanian Police General Inspectorate (IGPR) reported in a press statement.

Attending the official award ceremony at the main offices of the Romanian Police General Inspectorate were also deputy head of IGPR Virgil Spiridon, and SELEC Operation Director Romulus Ungureanu, who presented the honourable mentions and congratulated the case officers.

The SETRA operation was a joint investigation in migrant trafficking and contraband that involved law enforcement agencies from Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Turkey.

The Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre (SELEC) has secured and facilitated efficient and rapid cooperation among the participating authorities, IGPR says.

The Bucharest-based Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre is an international organisation established to provide support to 12 member states. The objective of SELEC is to provide support for Member States and enhance coordination in preventing and combating crime, including serious and organised crime, where such crime involves or appears to involve an element of trans-border activity.

Officers of the Organised Crime Combat Directorate and prosecutors with the Directorate for the Investigation of Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) on August 6, 2014 conducted ten domiciliary visits at members of a ring specialising in migrant smuggling from the Middle East to the European Union.

The visits were conducted in the Romanian counties of Arad, Brasov, Dolj, Ialomita, Galati, Valcea and Bucharest City.

The searches uncovered nearly 100 grams of cannabis, 300 grams of Mercury and 20,000 euros, which were impounded on suspicion of being proceeds of crime.

Their investigation discovered that in 2013-2014, ring members secured the trafficking through Romania of several migrants coming from countries in conflict and post-conflict areas.

The migrants, mainly Syrians, Iranians or ethnic Kurds, were allegedly smuggled into Romania or they allegedly came on tourist visas, after which the ring members would have facilitated their smuggling into Western Europe, mainly Germany, Italy or Austria.

The ring was made up of 17 people, Romanian and foreign nationals and allegedly financed by crime leaders from Turkey.

In December 2014, the 17 members of the ring were sent to court.

The action received specialist support from the Special Operation Directorate of the Romanian Police General Inspectorate and the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI).

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