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Marine pollution crime: first global multi-agency operation

LYON, France – An international law enforcement operation against maritime pollution has revealed hundreds of violations and exposed serious cases of contamination worldwide.

Codenamed 30 Days at Sea, the month-long (1-31 October) operation saw some 276 law enforcement and environmental agencies across 58 countries detect over 500 offences, including illegal discharges of oil and garbage from vessels, shipbreaking, breaches of ship emissions regulations, and pollution on rivers and land-based runoff to the sea.

Steered by a global network of 122 national coordinators, 30 Days at Sea involved environmental, maritime and border agencies, national police forces, customs, and port authorities. 

A global concern

More than 5200 inspections have resulted in at least 185 investigations, with arrests and prosecutions anticipated.

INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock “Criminals believe marine pollution crime is a low-risk crime with no real victims.  This is a mistake. Marine pollution crime is a transnational crime creating worldwide health hazards that undermine sustainable development and require a multi-agency, multi-sector cooperative response with a solid global security architecture”

Cases of serious contamination included the dumping of animal farm waste in Philippine coastal waters where local communities collect shellfish and children play.

In Germany, a vessel discharged 600 litres of palm oil into the sea. Ghana uncovered gallons of waste oil in large bottles thought to be illegally dumped at sea.   

Authorities prevented an environmental disaster in Albania by securing waters around a sinking vessel containing some 500 litres of oil.  Similarly, the pollution threat resulting from the collision of two ships in French waters was contained thanks to preventive action during the operation.

Innovative technologies permitted authorities to detect offences, including the use of satellite images (in Argentina and Sweden), aerial surveillance (Canada, Italy), drones (Nigeria, Indonesia and Pakistan) and night vision cameras.

In a shift towards prevention, visible surveillance technologies used in Qatar and Norway resulted in stricter compliance with regulations.

UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim said that the issue of illegal marine pollution is one that global communities may well be able to tackle successfully in the next decade. 

“But we need the help of our law enforcement partners to make sure that there is no impunity for the perpetrators of marine pollution crime,” added the UN Environment Executive.

Action through global cooperation

“It is vital for law enforcement to team up on a global scale and connect with experts in tackling this devastating crime and nurture a healthy, safe planet for all,” said Wil van Gemert, Europol Deputy Executive Director - Operations Directorate.

INTERPOL’s Pollution Crime Working Group launched Operation 30 Days at Sea in response to a call to boost international law enforcement action against emerging environmental crime through action in the field.

Coordinated by INTERPOL’s Environmental Security Programme in close partnership with Europol, 30 Days at Sea was driven by a range of cooperative enforcement actions, including:

  • joint tactical planning between countries (e.g.: Canada - US, Indonesia - Timor Leste);
  • the global deployment of multi-agency task forces, including a yearlong cooperative effort between South African national agencies targeting pollution crime at sea;
  • bilateral joint investigations (e.g.: Netherlands - South Africa, Germany –Belgium).

Understanding pollution crime

30 Days at Sea is followed by an awareness campaign in partnership with UN Environment to illustrate the impact marine pollution has on economic development and human and environmental security. 

From 13 November - 13 December, look for the hashtag #PollutionCrime, along with #CleanSeas on Twitter, and retweet to show support in combatting marine pollution crime.

13 Nov 2018

More than 300 historical exhibits, saved by the Ministry of Interior, displayed in the National Archeological Institute with Museum

 

“Saved Treasures of Bulgaria” exhibition comprises more than 300 exhibits, saved for the country during different operations carried out by the Ministry of Interior. It is organised as part of the European Year of cultural heritage. The opening coincides with the week, in which the Bulgarian Police celebrates its professional holiday – November 8th.

The exhibits illustrate all periods of the millennial history on today’s territory of Bulgaria. The cultural and historical treasures have been saved from illegal export, illicit trade or serious damage and are preserved for the national memory. Among them stand out the largest ever known finding of copper axes from the second half of the 5th Millennium BC; a Corinthian helmet from the end of 6th century BC; a collective finding of ornaments and bronze objects from the middle of the 2nd Millennium BC; and icons from the School of Tryavna.

The exhibition is a result of the tireless efforts of officers from the National Police General Directorate, the General Directorate for Countering Organized Crime, the Border Police General Directorate, the Regional Directorates of Interior in the country and the museums to protect the Bulgarian cultural heritage. ‘Between 120 and 140 pre-trial proceedings on illegal archeological activities are held each year in Bulgaria,’ said Chief Inspector Angel Papalezov, head of Cultural & Historical Heritage Crime Sector in the National Police General Directorate. According to him, a lot has been achieved concerning the legal framework. Chief Inspector Emil Alexandrov from the General Directorate for Countering Organized Crime underlined: ’It is it's important for people to know that the cultural and historical heritage belongs to them, not only to the museums; and when allowing it to leave the country we are losing part of our national identity.’

06 Nov 2018

21-year old male from Ruse was detained for the serious criminal offence perpetrated in the town during the weekend

The Minister of Interior and the Prosecutor General gave details on the recent developments in the investigation that led to the arrest of the suspect in Germany

 

Just in a few days, all necessary activities were undertaken, involving significant resources of the Ministry of Interior and the Prosecutor’s Office. The investigation was held in several main directions, not excluding any of the possible versions for committing the crime.

In the course of the investigation, a 21-year old male from Ruse was identified as the possible perpetrator. On 9th of October he was detained by the German police, following an official request of the Bulgarian authorities in compliance with the European procedures for mutual assistance in criminal matters. There is sufficient evidence linking directly the detainee to the crime scene and the victim. Part of the technical examinations are ready, and the experts continue their work on additional evidence concerning the crime.

Charges in absentia were pressed against the detainee – for rape and for murder, perpetrated with excessive brutality and extremely harmful for the victim. The available mechanisms for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters have been used in this case. The District Prosecutor's Office in Ruse immediately issued a European Arrest Warrant, as well as a European Investigation Order for the purpose of gathering evidence from the detainee’s belongings found in him upon his arrest in the Federal Republic of Germany. A procedure for executing the European Arrest Warrant before a German court will follow, in order to return the detainee to Bulgaria and raise the charges against him in person. Meanwhile, the examination of the facts related to the case continues, not excluding any of the possible versions raised in the course of the investigation.

So far there are no data linking the crime to the professional activities of the victim, but the arrest of the suspected perpetrator does not stop the work on all possible versions.

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, Mr. Boyko Borissov, the Minister of Interior, Mr. Mladen Marinov, and the Prosecutor General, Mr. Sotir Tsatsarov, expressed their gratitude to all teams involved in the investigation for their efforts, as well as to the police of the Federal Republic of Germany for their immediate reaction and real-time cooperation.

10 Oct 2018

Bulgaria is one of the very first countries involved in the development and implementation of standards for countering and preventing trafficking in human beings

The Directorate General Combating Organized Crime hosted the international workshop on the preventive measures against this type of crime

 

On 3 October 2018 the Directorate General Combating Organized Crime hosted an international meeting on countering and prevention of trafficking in human beings. The event gathered in Sofia experts in this particular field from Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Representatives from the European Crime Prevention Network and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) also joined the event.

“Prevention is an important component of the comprehensive response to trafficking in human beings and at the same time it is a major challenge requiring the involvement of multiple partners. The implementation of effective preventive mechanisms should be based on close and active cooperation between law enforcement and non-governmental sector”, said the deputy director of DGCOC, senior commissioner Stefan Dzholev. In this context, he stressed that our country is among the first countries taking part in the development and the implementation of global and European standards for countering and preventing trafficking in human beings.

Within the discussions, the Bulgarian participants, including DGCOC, the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and the State Agency for Child Protection shared their experience in implementing the multidisciplinary approach of cooperation in countering and preventing trafficking in human beings. Exclusive interest provoked an online campaign for raising public awareness on trafficking in human beings ran by the National Commission for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and the Private Sector.

The delegates were introduced to the Dutch and the British preventive initiatives in the field, and the activities of the European Crime Prevention Network. Focus during the discussions was on topics related to the effectiveness of preventive measures and the specifics needed to be taken into account in the development of campaigns - the different types of operations and the role of countries of origin, transit and final destination.

It has been recommended developing campaigns aiming at reducing the demand for services offered by victims of trafficking in human beings.

 

Context

The workshop was organized within the framework of the implementation of the Operational Action Plan for 2018 within the Multidisciplinary Platform on Cooperation in the Field of Serious and Organized Crime (EMPACT).

The Directorate General Combating Organized Crime is the leading organization within the framework of EMPACT under Priority "Trafficking in human beings". As a leader of action to prevent this type of crime through implementation of prevention and awareness raising campaigns, Bulgaria invited the representatives of the EU Member States supporting the initiative to share their experience in the development and implementation of prevention measures trafficking in human beings at a pan-European level.

08 Oct 2018

Interior Minister Marinov: Road safety is every person's right and responsibility

 

‘Working Together to Make Our Roads Safer – Enhanced Road Safety Governance and Good Practices’ was the subject of a conference co-organised by the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior and the European Road Safety Charter (ERSC). The event, held on 2 October 2018 under the auspices of the recent Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, gathered in Sofia representatives of all national stakeholders having responsibilities to road safety in Bulgaria (state institutions, private sector and NGOs) with representatives of the European Commission, ERSC and leading experts from EU Member States.

The responsible Bulgarian Ministries and the European Commission’s representatives shared their strategic visions on the development of the road safety policies in the period 2020-2030, as well as specific recommendations, which should be taken into consideration in drafting the Bulgarian national strategy on road safety for that period.

‘Road safety is every person's right and responsibility; state institutions cannot reduce road traffic deaths and accidents if they act alone. Therefore, the civil society, professional groups, non-governmental sector, and academia participation in the joint efforts is of key importance,’ Minister of Interior Mladen Marinov said at the opening of the thematic conference.

His words were supported by the Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications, Rossen Jeliazkov, the Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Malina Krumova, and the Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Tanya Mihaylova: ‘The complex, systematic approach and the coordination between state institutions as well as with the public sector represent significant factors for achieving the goal for safer roads. Each saved life is the most important indicator of the relevance of the common efforts.’

‘Road safety is a moral challenge for all of us,’ said Matthew Baldwin, Deputy Director General of DG MOVE, who is appointed for EC’s High Level Coordinator for Road Safety as of 2 October 2018. He shared the view of the Bulgarian government representatives about an integrated approach to road safety management and presented the idea of an EU safe system, consisting of road safety management, safer infrastructure, safer vehicles, safer road users and post crash care.

The head of the team of the European Road Safety Charter and President of the Board of Directors of the Panos Milonas Road Safety Institute, Vasiliki Daneli-Milona, also voiced support for Bulgaria's efforts in the area: We go ahead learning from good practices together, because they are success indicators.

Experts from Austria, Finland and Hungary presented their national experience in forming road safety policies, the use of efficient evaluation tools and the implementation of specific practices for reducing the number of traffic offences.

Good practices at national level in Bulgaria were also presented – initiatives of the Road Infrastructure Agency, the Bulgarian Red Cross Organisation, Sofia Municipality, The Union of Bulgarian Drivers and Shell Bulgaria.

A common agreement was reached that integrated approach to road safety and shared responsibility at all levels are crucial in achieving the common goals to reduce the number of road deaths and serious injuries and to provide highest road safety standards.

 

02 Oct 2018

23 smugglers arrested, drugs and cigarettes seized during Frontex-led operation

Bulgarian Border Police coordinated the successful international actions against cross-border crime

 

On 11-22 June, Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, led an international action against serious and organised cross-border crime at EU’s borders with Western Balkan countries, Southeast Europe and selected border crossing points at the Eastern land border. For the first time, this action was co-led by customs authorities.

In less than two weeks, the international cooperation led to:

•    arrests of 23 migrant smugglers,

•    recovery of 31 stolen cars,

•    seizure of 330 000 of illegal cigarettes,

•    seizure 0.5 tonnes of drugs and

•    detection of more than 60 cases of document fraud. 

In addition, nearly 12 tonnes of tobacco were seized thanks to the support of the Slovak customs authorities.

Frontex officers also detected more than 2 160 irregular migrants and 580 persons staying in the European Union illegally.

The operation known as Joint Action Day Danube 3 targeted cross-border crime especially related to migrant smuggling, excise goods trafficking and document fraud but also stolen cars, drugs and counterfeited goods smuggling. The action was co-led by Bulgaria and Lithuania. The overall objective was the dismantling of the criminal networks behind cross border crime and bridging border police, criminal police and customs authorities.

Frontex deployed European Border Guard Team Members at selected border crossing points at EU’s external land borders, along with customs authorities from several member states, Europol and Interpol experts. The Frontex teams included stolen vehicle and document experts and border surveillance officers. Europol supported the action with its analytical capabilities and access to related databases.

Among the aims of JAD Danube 3 was to enhance the use of intelligence in operations, improve the cooperation between different member states involved in fight against cross border crime, especially in migrant smuggling, excise goods smuggling and document fraud.

The participants also set up a coordination centre in Sofia, Bulgaria to support the exchange of intelligence among them.

The operation was coordinated under the umbrella of the European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) as part of the EU Policy Cycle. It brings together police and law enforcement authorities of EU member states, European agencies and international organisations to jointly strengthen Europe’s borders and internal security.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Greece, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria and Sweden took part in the action, as well as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Montenegro.

In spring 2017, the EU adopted its next 4-year plan for the fight against serious and organised crime. This plan, known as the EU policy cycle, will run until 2021.

The policy cycle aims to tackle the most significant threats posed by organised and serious international crime to the EU.

29 Jun 2018

EU and CELAC have strategic partnership on drugs

On 21-22 June 2018 Sofia hosted the 20th jubilee High Level Meeting of the Coordination and Cooperation Mechanism on Drugs of the European Union and The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (EU - CELAC). The meeting gathered representatives of the two regions, as well as representatives of the European Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS), the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), Europol and COPOLAD. The event was part of the calendar of the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU and was co-organised by the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Health.

During the discussions, a particular focus was placed on the joint measures to counteract the supply of drugs via darknet markets, which allow anonymous transactions, as well as on the development and implementation of social and health programmes for reducing drug demand.

The Bulgarian Presidency has worked actively over the past six months on these two topics, which were among the priorities in the home affairs area. A final document on Drugs and Darknet with recommendations and informal guidelines for future work in the fight against this phenomenon was prepared, and in terms of demand reduction, in March the JHA Council adopted Conclusions on Alternatives to Coercive Measures of the EU Council that are promoting the Member States engagement in this area.

“The fight against drugs is a challenge for security in each country. The cooperation between regions is of paramount importance for the effective counteraction to trafficking and trading in drugs,” said the Deputy Minister of Interior, Mr. Stefan Balabanov, in his welcome address. He emphasized the significance of the EU-CELAC partnership in achieving common standards, coherent actions and policies that focus on drug-related problems.

Along with the strategic issues related to the existing cooperation, the participants also discussed the situation in the two regions in relation to drugs and exchanged information on national strategies, experience and best practices. An annual report on the activities under the Coordination and Cooperation Mechanism on Drugs was adopted at the end of the meeting, as well as a joint declaration outlining the commitment of the two regions to continue their successful collaboration.

 

Background

The European Union and the Latin American and Caribbean States share a strategic partnership established in 1999 that has been significantly strengthened over the past years. The two regions cooperate closely on an international level on a wide range of topics and maintain an intensive political dialogue at all levels. The EU supports the cooperation through the implementation of regional and thematic programs in specific areas.

 

25 Jun 2018

Regional Directorates of Ministry of Interior

Other Ministry structures
  • Metropolitan Directorate of Interior
  • Traffic Police
  • Blagoevgrad
  • Burgas
  • Varna
  • Veliko Tarnovo
  • Vidin
  • Vratsa
  • Gabrovo
  • Dobrich
  • Kardzhali
  • Kyustendil
  • Lovech
  • Montana
  • Pazardzhik
  • Pernik
  • Pleven
  • Plovdiv
  • Razgrad
  • Ruse
  • Silistra
  • Sliven
  • Smolyan
  • Sofia
  • Stara Zagora
  • Targovishte
  • Haskovo
  • Shumen
  • Yambol