Frontex will expand its efforts in combatting cross-border crime this year by organising two dedicated international actions focusing on facilitated irregular immigration and trafficking in human beings.
Frontex has already been closely cooperating with Europol and EU Member States in their efforts against serious cross-border crime. The agency took an active part in last year’s Operation Blue Amber, a series of coordinated international actions called Joint Action Days, aimed at tackling organised crime groups.
Frontex provided the support for dismantling the criminal networks behind facilitated irregular migration, trafficking in human beings and other forms of cross border crime such as illicit firearms trafficking or stolen vehicles smuggling. Operation Blue Amber led to nearly 900 arrests and a seizure of more than 250 stolen vehicles, 7.7 tonnes of drugs.
In 2016, Frontex will for the first time organise two Joint Action Days, one at an EU external land border in the Western Balkans and another at external air borders. The agency will cooperate with EU Member States, Europol and Interpol. It will also establish a special coordination centre to improve the flow of intelligence between the participants aligned with Europol coordination centre.
“It is essential for Frontex to work closely with Europol and other international partners in fighting cross-border crime, even as we deploy record numbers of officers to frontline Member States to help them with the unprecedented number of migrants,” said Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri.
“These two challenges are linked closely together. Smugglers and people traffickers are making billions from the desperate migrants and a large chunk of this money goes to fund other illegal activities, such as drug and weapon smuggling,” Leggeri added.
Joint Action Days are organised under the umbrella of EU policy cycle/EMPACT (European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats) in close cooperation with Europol. They focus on particular targets and threats at selected airports, ports, land borders, main routes, criminal groups or their specific methods.
Last year, Frontex supported five Joint Action Days organised within the Blue Amber Operation. Among them there were two Global Airline Action Days concentrating on credit card and ID fraud in addition to trafficking in human beings and facilitated irregular migration.