The Deputy Director of the Public Security Bureau, Arif Asani, spoke to CivilMedia about the connection between the illegal arms trade and organized crime in the country and the region, and what achievements and challenges lay ahead for the Ministry of Interior. The conversation with the Deputy Director of the Public Security Bureau, Asani took place on December 13, 2021.
The illicit arms trade supports and encourages serious forms of organized crime. Illegal weapons are released into the illegal market, and in addition to material gain activities, illegal weapons are also used as a means of blackmail and intimidation in the commission of other crimes, which occurs in many forms of organized crime, and is present in organized crime groups that use violence or are even more criminal – Asani told CIVIL.
“The link between illegal weapons is particularly pronounced in the organized forms of the illicit drug trade, where organized structures use weapons as a means of protection and demonstrating power” – Asani said.
Asked to share some of the more significant recent cases in this area, the Deputy shared that in 2021, a ten-member semi-criminal organized group, which was primarily engaged in illicit drug trafficking, was comprehended, and four members of it had been involved in the illicit trade in weapons and ammunition.
Asani also shared that, in the field of organized forms of illicit trade in weapons, in 2019, an organized criminal group dealing with illicit trade in weapons and ammunition was suppressed, and, within it, a workshop for converting starter and flare guns was discovered. The challenges for dealing with the illicit trade in weapons have been raised to the level of a high priority of the Public Security Bureau, for which measures and activities related to the prevention and control of crime in this field are being taken.
The threats from the illicit trade in weapons are also analyzed as a separate SOC area within the new Organized and Serious Crime Threat Assessment – SOKTA 2021.
“In this regard, we inform you that the document in question should be finalized by the end of the year, after which it will be published and publicly available on the website of the Ministry of Interior” – concluded Asani.
This content is part of the activities of the CIVIL project “Past, present and future of arms control in the Republic of Northern Macedonia” with the support of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and the Resilience Fund.
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