Between November 13 and 18, law enforcement authorities joined forces at land and air borders across Southeast and Eastern Europe to target firearms trafficking, drug trafficking, migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings, as well as high-risk criminal networks. In total, more than 22,000 officers from 26 countries across Europe, supported by Frontex, Europol, Eurojust, Interpol and other international organizations, took part. Spain coordinated the operational activities. In total, the operation foiled 2,229 illegal border entry attempts and seized 114 forged documents.
In its risk analysis report for 2023, Frontex said passports have become the most reported fraudulent document type, with an increase of 35% in 2022 from 2021. Airports in the Arabian Peninsula were identified as major hubs for threats connected with irregular migration based on the use of fraudulent documents. At the time of its risk analysis, Frontex predicted that this trend would be maintained or even increase throughout 2023.
The joint operation in November also resulted in the seizure of 310 weapons and a large quantity of illegal narcotics including 626kg of cocaine. During the intelligence phase, Frontex organized a series of dedicated operational visits and related workshops at the airports and land border crossings, where the checks would take place. The goal was to raise the level of awareness of firearms trafficking and other similar trends among Frontex officers and national authorities. The agency also sent additional technical equipment for the identification of dangerous chemicals, drugs, explosives and their precursors to the checkpoints for the duration of the operation.