Europol: Nearly 250 arrests in Operation Bosphorus against smuggling of Turkish pistols via Bulgaria
Nearly 250 arrests and 556 gas and alarm pistols seized are a few of the final results of Operation Bosphorus, a series of international actions in 2016 in 10 EU countries directed against Turkish-made firearms smuggled into Europe via Bulgaria, European police agency Europol said on January 23.
The operation is coordinated by Romania as the activity’s action leader and with the full operational and analytical support of Europol, the police agency said.
Operation Bosphorus is a series of actions developed under the EMPACT Firearms OAP 2015 targeting gas/alarm pistols of Turkish manufacture trafficked into Europe via Bulgaria.
Based upon intelligence packages provided by Europol, 10 EU countries, namely Romania, Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland, Cyprus, Finland, Sweden, Spain and the UK, with the support of Bulgaria, agreed to investigate the acquisition and the possession of such firearms by their nationals or in their territory, since according to their own national legislation, a declaration or authorisation is required to acquire, import and possess such a firearm in these countries.
To this day, the results of Operation Bosphorus include 245 people arrested, 421 house searches, 556 gas/alarm pistols found and seized, of which 131 had been converted, at least 108 other firearms found and seized, and 33 748 ammunition found and seized.
Europol said that other illegal commodities found included silencers, tools for converting the pistols to live firing, stun guns, indoor cannabis plantation, sniper scopes, grenades, pepper sprays, magazines, 234 ancient coins (cultural goods/antiquities violation).
In Spain, at least four illicit workshops for the conversion of weapons to live firing and the production of ammunition were identified and dismantled.
In Greece, the authorities, with the support of a Europol mobile office deployed for a week in Athens, arrested more than 100 individuals and seized 101 pistols and 5537 rounds of ammunition.
In recent years, gas/alarm pistols have become extremely popular among criminals and have been represented in considerable figures in firearm trafficking and seizure cases, Europol said.
The police agency said that this was because it easy to convert them to live firing, and easy to reverse this, the pistols are made of metal and are quite reliable in firing live ammunition, they are relatively cheap and easy to access, and most models are an imitation of an existing live firing weapon.
“Even if not converted, such pistols can be used in crime for intimidation purposes,” the police agency said.