Belgrade and Skopje Airports ‘Hubs for Illicit Activities’: Report

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, GI-TOC, a Geneva-based NGO, published a report on Monday warning that Balkan airports are vulnerable to organised crime and that Belgrade and Skopje airports in particular are regional hubs for illicit activities.

Among the criminal activities, GI-TOC names smuggling of migrants and goods, human trafficking, but also shipments of illegal drugs and chemical precursors.

The report noted that seizures of cocaine arriving from Latin America, mostly from the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, have been made at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport.

"In 2015, for instance, Serbian authorities discovered that the suitcase of a Brazilian citizen contained 8.5 kilogrammes of cocaine, the largest quantity ever discovered at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport. In 2018, a similar case occurred at Skopje airport: customs officials seized nearly 2 kilogrammes of cocaine hidden in the suitcase of a Venezuelan citizen," the report said.

Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport is located close to three European road corridors key for illicit flows of drugs and people across the Western Balkans: the E-70 connecting Croatia to Romania, the E-75 connecting North Macedonia to Hungary and the E-763connecting Montenegro to Serbia.

The report said that drug-smuggling through Skopje International Airport in personal luggage is relatively small-scale and gherefore probably unsophisticated.

"Cargo is a different story, however, both in terms of the quantities involved and the multiple steps of the supply chain exposed to criminal exploitation," it said.

It noted that in February 2022, Turkish customs and North Macedonia's police conducted a joint operation that led to the detection of 1 ,05...

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