Operational Assistance in Moldova Initiative

Combating organized crime, terrorism and firearms trafficking in Moldova

Timeframe: October 2022 – July 2023
Budget: EUR 1,150,000
Donor: German Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The situation

Moldova faces serious security challenges ranging from travel document fraud and crimes against children, through human and firearms trafficking, to smuggling of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) materials. The country has also served as a transit corridor for foreign fighters. Located on the very edge of the European Union, Moldova’s geographical location is attractive to international organized crime groups wishing to smuggle illicit goods between Europe and Asia.

Among the emerging threats due to the conflict in Ukraine, we are seeing human traffickers and smugglers taking advantage of vulnerable populations at various border control checkpoints. Human trafficking in Moldova encompasses both domestic and crossborder trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation. Children and unaccompanied minors are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by smugglers and traffickers.

Organized crime has a negative impact on entire regions and produces significant amounts of illicit revenue and proceeds. Illicit financial flows have caused significant damage to the economy, society, and development in Moldova. Organized crime groups often use illicitly obtained revenue generated from one crime to fund and sponsor other serious crimes.

Project aims

The project will support law enforcement agencies in tackling organized crime and emerging threats. It will also help in developing long-term cooperation in the region.  

As part of this, the project will:

  1. Provide operational assistance and strengthen national efforts to combat transnational organized crime, with a specific focus on migrant smuggling, human trafficking, terrorism and firearms trafficking;
  2. Enhance national and transborder cooperation between law enforcement agencies, international organizations and the aid sector/non-governmental organizations. Improved international police cooperation will also ensure the effective exchange of information in the region.

Project activities

  • Operational and analytical support to identify and investigate organized crime groups related to human and firearms trafficking, terrorism and violent extremism. This will include an exchange of operational data and best practices aimed at dismantling specific criminal groups. INTERPOL officials will also help enhance law enforcement agencies in Moldova with operational and analytical skills to conduct effective investigations;
  • Detection of suspected individuals at control points – This will include crosschecking biometrics from suspected individuals against INTERPOL databases during HOTSPOT operations;
  • Assessing Moldova’s ability to detect and interdict CBRNE material at border crossing points, and response mechanisms;
  • On-the job support and mentorship programmes – This will help integrate best practices, increase alertness and immediate response to firearms trafficking. These programmes will also assist national authorities in conducting criminal intelligence analysis as well as identifying and tracing firearms;
  •  Assisting law enforcement agencies in accessing INTERPOL databases and supporting deployment of INTERPOL’s Operational Support Teams (OST) for transnational cases.

Project updates

October 2022

Operational support and needs assessment in relation to smuggling and trafficking of human beings.

Officers will be deployed to meet with local law enforcement officers to:

  •  Assess the risks posed by migration flows and threats faced by displaced people;
  • Assess the needs of law enforcement in dealing with identification, investigation and prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking and smuggling, irregular migration, displaced people and asylum seekers.

November 2022

Second deployment of experts on information security, counter-terrorism, firearms trafficking and CBRNE combined with visits to border checkpoints.

INTERPOL officers will work closely with Moldovan authorities to:

  •  Assess information systems, infrastructure and access to INTERPOL databases;
  •  Present INTERPOL tools and capabilities, counter-terrorism activities and the HOTSPOT concept;
  •  Assess the capacity of national law enforcement agencies to tackle firearms related organized crime;
  • Establish a network of firearms contact points in Moldova consisting of relevant institutions, departments and individuals.

December 2022

A debriefing meeting on the assessment mission will be organized to discuss ideas and plans for future activities.