Odesa, 22 June 2017 – EUBAM and its partner services today announced the results of their recent joint operation targeting the illegal movement of firearms, explosives, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials through the Ukraine/Republic of Moldova border.
578 firearms, 776 pieces of ammunition, 5 pieces of explosives and 1 package of radioactive material were seized by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies. The Operation, codenamed “Navigator”, also helped prevent a planned act of terrorism, after Ukrainian services detained a person in Odesa with 600g of TNT.
The seizures were the largest made as part of an EUBAM-coordinated Operation against weapons trafficking. EUBAM’s Head of Field Operations, Razvan Budeanu, emphasised its international character, highlighting that “in just four weeks, EUBAM co-ordinated over one hundred pieces of information and intelligence with our Ukrainian partners and EU member states, including serial numbers of seized weapons and parts of weapons with unclear origin. We detained weapons and their components from a wide range of countries, including Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, USA and Israel, so close communication with law enforcement agencies in those countries was vital.”
Head of EUBAM, Ambassador Andrew Tesoriere underlined that “the substantial seizures made as part of Operation “Navigator” show the scale on which weapons can be trafficked in just one month, and the serious implications for national security, be that in transnational organised crime or terrorism. I welcome the Government of Ukraine’s proposed amendment to the Criminal Code in May to increase the punishment for those engaged in illegal weapons trafficking, and hope the Parliament (the Verkhovna Rada) give urgent priority to the Legislation’s adoption.”
In May 2017, the Ukrainian Government proposed amendments to the country’s Criminal Code to criminalise the smuggling of firearms’ parts. The proposed Law stipulates 3-7 year prison sentences for the illegal transportation of cultural heritage, toxic, explosive and radioactive materials, weapons and ammunitions.
The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine highlighted that such operations improved international and inter-agency information exchange and coordination to prevent and counteract illegal cross-border movements of firearms, explosives and other dangerous materials. The State Border Guard Service’s Head of the Department of Administration, Anatoliy Smorodskyy noted that, “This operation strengthens law enforcement co-operation between Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and international law enforcement organisations, builds trust and encourages information exchange”. He added that permanent monitoring of the State border, risk analysis and forecasting allowed for a new quality level of planning and deployment of resources to meet the tasks of the Operation.
Targeted Operation “Navigator” was initiated to counter the illegal movement of firearms, explosives, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials along the Moldova-Ukraine border, as well as adjacent seaports and airports. The Operation took place throughout April 2017 and was co-ordinated by EUBAM, in conjunction with Customs and law enforcement agencies of Ukraine, Republic of Moldova, Greece, Romania, and Spain. Europol, Frontex and the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC) also participated in the Operation.