Inter-agency group seizes over 43 kg of gold jewelry at Skopje airport

28 March 2023, Skopje, North Macedonia: Since 2020, UNODC has been leading the process of establishing and operationalizing joint airport inter-agency groups composed of Joint Airport Interdiction Task Forces (JAITFs) focusing on passengers and Air Cargo Control Units (ACCU) focusing on cargo at the international airports of Skopje, Sarajevo and Belgrade the framework of the joint EU-UNODC action on promoting rule of law and good governance through targeted border control measures at ports and airports in South-Eastern Europe, generously funded by the European Union. The action is implemented by the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) and UNODC-INTERPOL-WCO Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) in cooperation with the Regional Programme for South Eastern Europe and is aimed at enhancing the capacities of authorities in the Western Balkans to fight organized crime by supporting more effective and coordinated responses to illicit trafficking implemented by border law enforcement at land and port border crossing points and international airports in the region.

In North Macedonia, the first project led AIRCOP/CCP airport inter-agency group named the Border Interagency Unit (BIU) was officially opened in April 2022 at the Skopje international airport and is a recognized entity within the security structure of the country.

Since the beginning of the action, UNODC has been supporting the border police and customs officers to be part of the inter-agency groups with continuous capacity building, mentorship and boosting regional cooperation. As part of this support, UNODC conducted a joint one-week mentoring visit to the BIU at Skopje airport in March, delivered together with WCO and the Customs Administration of the Czech Republic.

During this activity, in cooperation with Customs, the BIU seized 43 kg of gold jewelry from a passenger arriving on a flight from Istanbul. With overall estimate of 2,3 mil. Euro of seized goods, the seizure is registered as the biggest one in North Macedonia.

UNODC will further continue to support the region in successfully interdicting illicit goods and disrupting organized crime.