Bosnia and Herzegovina received assistance from Europol in uncovering and dismantling a large-scale criminal network involved in the trafficking of drugs and firearms, money laundering and corrupt practices. The investigation, set in motion by a comprehensive analysis conducted by Europol, engaged the following authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Federal Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Srpska, Border Police and the State Prosecutor’s Office. The investigation also involved law enforcement (Federal Criminal Police Office) and judicial authorities in Germany.
The investigation, launched in 2021, focused on the activities of a criminal network mainly involved in drug production and trafficking in the Western Balkans, the EU and South America. Crucial information that aided in identifying criminal individuals was acquired through operational analysis of encrypted communications. Europol assisted the national authorities by providing essential intelligence gathered from the suspects’ communications through encrypted applications such as ANOM and SkyECC, with the latter being dismantled in 2021. This support facilitated the development of the investigative operations.
The exchange of information between different national authorities revealed a large-scale organization, spread over two continents and with some members holding positions in the national administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the end of June, when the eighth day of action was organised as part of the three-year operation, 6 people were arrested by the national authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These arrests brought the total number of individuals detained for their links to this organised crime group to 38.
Total results of the operation:
– 38 suspects arrested, 8 of whom held positions in the national administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
– 1 High Value Target arrested in Germany and extradited to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
– Seizures of over 300 kg of cannabis, as well as real estate and cash with a total value of more than 6 million euros.
From the outset, Europol provided continuous support to the operation by conducting comprehensive analyses of communications, enabling the national authorities to identify the suspects involved and uncover their criminal activities. Europol facilitated the exchange of information and coordinated and financed operational meetings.
Europol’s parallel operational analysis, presented in the form of intelligence reports, clarifies the ramifications and influence of the criminal network. Furthermore, Europol extended its support to the national authorities by dispatching field experts who provided real-time analytical assistance and specialised technical expertise.
As of June 2023, Europol is further strengthening its operational cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina. This new development concerns the establishment of a single national point of contact for all Bosnian police authorities with Europol, connecting them to Europol’s Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA) system. The creation of this national contact point, which will coordinate communication between the competent Bosnian authorities and Europol, is accompanied by the deployment of a Bosnian liaison officer to the agency. The Bosnian liaison officer will join the large community of nearly 300 liaison officers, representing more than 45 countries, already housed at Europol headquarters.