This report applies the ‘hotspots’ strategy that has been utilized by the International Initiative Towards Transnational Organized Crime’s (GI-TOC) Observatory of Illicit Economies in South Japanese Europe to research organized crime within the Western Balkans in addition to the actions of legal teams from the area in different elements of the world, as uncovered within the earlier ‘Transnational tentacles’ report.

As within the context of the danger evaluation carried out on Western Balkan ports final yr, this strategy examines locations which might be related to organized crime (hotspots), relatively than folks or markets. The target is to give attention to the components that make these places susceptible or engaging to organized crime; assess the interior dynamics and gamers; plot the places on a map and join the dots between them to get a clearer overview of the geography of crime within the area.

When researching hotspots of legal exercise within the Western Balkans and the actions of Balkan legal teams overseas, it grew to become evident that there have been a rising variety of police and customs operations in main worldwide airports, notably in Tirana (Albania), Skopje (North Macedonia) and Belgrade (Serbia). These operations merited a better look, so it was determined that an organized crime-based safety menace evaluation of airports within the Western Balkans needs to be undertaken. Though illicit actions are additionally being carried out utilizing non-public jets that land at minor airports and airstrips, it was past the scope of this research to research each aviation web site within the Western Balkans. Fairly, the main target is proscribed to 2 main airports, that are offered as case research: Belgrade and Skopje’s worldwide airports. These appear to be the hubs for illicit actions associated to human trafficking, smuggling of migrants and items, in addition to foremost entry factors for shipments of medicine and precursors.

Utilizing an analogous mannequin to the analysis carried out for the report ‘Portholes: Exploring the maritime Balkan routes’, we developed a technique for finishing up a threat evaluation, along with airport safety specialists. Among the many points lined by this technique are airport possession; commerce and passenger volumes; safety measures; main illicit markets; legal actors concerned; regulation enforcement operations; and enabling components of illicit exercise, corresponding to infrastructure, governance and corruption. These assessments have been carried out on the airports of Belgrade and Skopje between November 2022 and January 2023, and concerned semi-structured interviews with greater than 20 airport specialists, together with safety suppliers (i.e. representatives of customs, border police, state police, prosecutors’ places of work and personal safety corporations), representatives of logistics corporations working within the Western Balkans, worldwide specialists on aviation safety, teachers, and journalists reporting on illicit commerce via airports. The findings, outlined within the two case research, are set out within the report.

The report additionally gives an analytical overview of safety at airports, components of vulnerability in aviation departing from and arriving within the Western Balkans, and the way these vulnerabilities are exploited for legal functions. As well as, the report considers how airports are a part of a wider regional infrastructure that feeds right into a community of commerce and journey corridors, and notably how they function nodes connecting Western Europe and Asia. Suggestions to assist mitigate the danger of illicit flows via these aviation hotspots are given within the closing part of the report.

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