Macedonian police work with Germany, Austria to bust 'Frankfurt Mafia'

13/05/2013

Co-ordinated international police action packs a punch to drug group.

By Marina Stojanovska for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 13/05/13

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Police co-operation showed better results in a fight against organised crime, experts say. [AFP]

The recent arrest of five people in a joint police action targeting a money laundering ring shows the power of a co-ordinated fight against organised crime, analysts said.

Vladimir Pivovarov, a professor in the Faculty of Detectives and Security at FON University, said these co-ordinated actions send a signal of unity and co-operation of the police in the region when it comes to combatting organised crime.

"By arresting [people] in many countries, it is a matter of operative co-operation that includes performers at few levels in this criminal organisation," Pivovarov said.

On May 8th, Macedonia police arrested five people under the ongoing "Dirigent (Conductor)" action, which began in 2010. In co-ordination with German and Austrian police, the action has targeted a group that has been selling narcotics and laundering the money through Macedonian bank accounts.

The ring, dubbed the Frankfurt Mafia, is especially active in the German banking sector and in Vienna.

The cities are at the end of the Balkan Route, along which heroin from Afghanistan is smuggled through Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia and other Balkan countries before ending up in Europe's major cities.

After May 8th, the number of people arrested in the latest sting rose to 13.

"The Macedonian police have a role in assisting the Austrian and the German police. The evidence for the detained persons in the case is mostly provided in Germany and in Austria," Frosina Remenski, a professor at ehe faculty of security studies in Skopje, told SETimes.

According to Remenski, international police co-operation enables co-ordinated action in breaking up international criminal networks.

"The fact that foreign citizens are included in transnational organized crime related to drugs is an indicator of the involvement of many people with different roles in the chain of the illegal trade (observers, transporter, receivers, dealers) from many countries," Remenski said.

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According to police, the suspects belonged to a criminal group from Veles. Their role was to receive and raise the funds acquired from the sale of heroin, which were sent by the members of the criminal group from Austria, Slovakia and Germany to their personal name through fast money transfer.

In 2010, the co-ordinated action of the Macedonian, the Austrian and the German police resulted in the arrest of 69 members of the group.

According to authorities, the operation was highly sophisticated, comprised of individuals or decentralised cells. Many dealers were unaware of each others' identities and simply received their instructions by phone.

Will co-ordinated police efforts result in less international crime? Tell us what you think in the comments.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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