Serbian police conducted a large-scale operation against people-smugglers near the country’s border with the EU, seizing weapons and arresting several dozen suspects.
Serbian police deployed 820 officers on Tuesday in a large-scale operation targeting people-smugglers in the area near the border with EU member state Hungary.
Police detained 13 people suspected of criminal activities, while 27 will be charged with misdemeanours.
Officers found nine automatic rifles, a hunting carbine with an optical sight, three pistols, as well as 841 pieces of ammunition of different calibres, an Interior Ministry statement said.
The Interior Ministry said that among the officers participating in the operation were members of the Special Anti-Terrorist Unit, the Gendarmerie, the Police Intervention Unit, the Police Brigade, the Border Police Administration, the Criminal Police Administration, the Anti-Terrorist Group and the Subotica Police Administration.
Interior Minister Bratislav Gasic said during the operation in Subotica in northern Serbia that the police will not allow anyone to threaten the safety of the public and their property.
“We are determined to oppose irregular migration and not allow smuggling groups to threaten the safety of our citizens. Today’s action by the police is just one more in a series that shows the firmness of that determination. The safety of our citizens comes first for us,” Gasic said.
BIRN has been reporting for several years that armed smuggling gangs have been operating near Serbia’s border with the EU.
A BIRN investigation in June 2022 reported on a smuggling gang that dominates the area around the city of Sombor and Serbia’s north-west border with the EU and takes down rivals with the help of police on its payroll.
A day after BIRN’s investigation was published, a person was reported wounded in a conflict between smuggling gangs as shots were fired near a migrant camp in north-west Serbia known as a smuggling hub.
In July 2022 in Subotica, on the border with Hungary, a larger armed conflict between two smuggling gangs erupted in which Kalashnikovs were fired. The authorities announced that one person died, while eight were wounded, including a 16-year-old girl.
Since then there have been dozens of armed clashes between smuggling gangs of Afghan, Moroccan or Syrian origin, some of them close to inhabited areas.
Source : Balkan Insight