Fighting crime

Tackling cross-border crime

Frontex collaborates closely with national authorities and EU agencies, including Europol, to stop cross-border crime and make European Union safer and more secure. 

In its operations, Frontex targets not just migrant smuggling or trafficking in human beings, but also other serious crimes that affect the security the EU and its people, ranging from the smuggling of drug, firearms, stolen cars and counterfeit goods to document fraud and environmental crime.

Many criminal networks engage in multiple criminal activities simultaneously, simply adding migrant smuggling or trafficking in human beings to their portfolio of “services”. Criminal gangs active in the field of migrant smuggling also collaborate with networks involved in other types of serious and organised crime, such as the production and provision of fraudulent documents, firearms trafficking, corruption and financial crimes, especially money laundering. In some cases, the same routes and modi operandi are used for migrant smuggling and trafficking of illegal goods.

The complex character of cross-border crime threats requires a comprehensive operational response at the borders – the first filter to stop illegal activities before they harm EU citizens and EU internal security.  For this reason, efforts to combat organised crime by EU member states, non-EU partners and Frontex at the EU’s external borders need to be based on the risk analysis and identified criminal threats. The agency may provide technical and operational assistance to EU Member States to reinforce their capacity. Such support may consist of expertise, training, advice on appropriate technological tools or launching operational response.

Law enforcement is firmly embedded in Frontex’s operational response. All joint operations contain the element of cross-border crime counteraction. 

Frontex takes part in Joint Action Days – international operations that bring together national law enforcement authorities, international organisations and EU agencies to take on serious and organised crime. These operations are coordinated under the umbrella of the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT).

Frontex coordinates its cross-border crime related activities with the support of a number of European and international organisations. 

Against firearm smuggling

Weapon trafficking is a global threat that has a far-reaching impact on society. It is a major security concern and, as such, is at the forefront of law enforcement efforts and activities. Firearms are often used to fuel armed conflicts and terrorism, making gun trafficking an issue of critical importance.

Small arms and light weapons are the most commonly trafficked firearms, but the smuggling varies significantly from region to region due to differences in firearms legislation across different countries.

To effectively combat criminal networks involved in weapon trafficking, law enforcement officers must continuously improve their skills and stay up-to-date with the latest information on how these criminals operate.

Frontex has taken action to assist national border guard and customs authorities in their fight against arms-related crime by creating the Handbook on Firearms for Border Guards and Customs Officers. This initiative was carried out in cooperation with the border guard and customs community, as well as EU and international partners.

The handbook provides the latest information on firearms trafficking, tactics, and equipment to be used during border checks. The initiative was supported and guided by the European Commission, EU member states, and a number of EU and international organisations. The handbook was developed under the umbrella of the European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) and serves as a valuable resource for law enforcement agencies.

Protecting victims

Trafficking in persons/human beings often takes place across borders and law enforcement officers have a vital role in identifying potential victims. Training of border guards is one effective tool for combating this terrible crime. Frontex has cooperated with specialised UN agencies and NGOs for many years, preparing handbooks for border guards on how to detect potential victims and seek further assistance. The Frontex VEGA Handbook: Children Concept is a valuable resource resulting from Frontex's comprehensive approach to children at risk on the move. It is a product of Frontex's collaboration with experts in the field and serves as a practical guide for border guards on identifying and assisting children who may be victims of trafficking.

By providing these resources and training, Frontex is working to prevent trafficking in human beings, protect victims, and bring criminals to justice. The agency's commitment to this effort underscores the importance of international cooperation in combatting this crime.

Finding potential foreign terrorist fighters

Frontex is fully committed to ensuring that our external borders remain safe and secure. To achieve this goal, we work tirelessly with our partners to develop effective strategies and tools for countering the threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters.

One such tool is the Common Risk Indicators, which we actively support and promote. By using these indicators, border control authorities are better equipped to identify and assess the risk of suspicious travel by potential foreign terrorist fighters and to detect firearms smuggling.

Our efforts in this area are coordinated closely with our partners at EUROPOL. Together, we are determined to ensure that almost all of our coordinated border operations, whether on land, sea, or air, include these critical operational objectives.

To further empower our border guards and improve situational awareness, Frontex has also developed specific materials in close cooperation with EUROPOL. These materials are tailored to the unique needs and challenges faced by border guards and are a testament to our ongoing commitment to keeping our borders safe and secure from the threat of terrorism.