On 7 December 2021, UNODC through its Global Firearms Programme (GFP) has organized a workshop with representatives from Ukrainian law enforcement, prosecutorial and security services and criminal justice practitioners from Romania, Slovakia, Georgia, Spain, the United Kingdom, France, EUROPOL and FRONTEX.
The overall objective of the event was to contribute to a more effective criminal justice response to illicit firearms trafficking and organized crime and facilitate the implementation of the Organized Crime Convention and its supplementary Firearms Protocol in Ukraine.
The specific objective of the event was to enhance knowledge about concrete cases involving investigations and prosecution of illicit firearms trafficking. The workshop was conducted in a hybrid format, which has allowed the participants to present their experience in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking in firearms through presentations, questions and answers.
UNODC GFP has opened the event with a presentation of its work in Ukraine and has introduced the Firearms Case Law collection. The collection contains court verdicts on firearms-related cases and summarizes the practice of illicit trafficking in and manufacturing of firearms. Three cases have been discussed, including a case where the modus operandi of trafficking was through postal parcels. The main weakness identified in these cases was the lack of follow-up investigations to identify the source of the weapons and conduct tracing.
The Security Service of Ukraine outlined in their presentation the investigations carried out on countering firearms trafficking. Several cases were presented, which have involved organized criminal groups engaged in imported illicit firearms and their parts into Ukraine. The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine has also provided an extensive analysis of the firearms cases and the indicted perpetrators by presenting the details of ten cases.
The representative of Slovakia has informed about the legislative loopholes linked to Flobert weapons and their sales in Slovakia. He has highlighted a specific case involving Ukrainian perpetrators and has presented the results from the investigation and indictment phases.
The representative from Spain (Guardia Civil) has outlined the details of a case of illicit brokering of firearms and has also identified the need to conduct a comprehensive investigation including following the money linked to firearms and initiating, where feasible, a parallel investigation on money laundering.
The prosecutors from Georgia have informed about an international investigation involving the trafficking of firearm parts through a postal parcel. They have described the process of detection of the firearms parts and the use of special investigation measures that have resulted in the arrest and indictment of the perpetrators.
The representatives of France and the UK have provided detailed information on the state of firearms trafficking in their jurisdictions. In France, the link between drugs and firearms trafficking was underlined as well as a specific source of supplying illicit firearms: the burglaries from homes and gunsmiths. In this respect a new phenomenon was established – French criminals have gone to neighbouring countries to commit burglaries for obtaining firearms. Good practice was also shared: when a French national is arrested abroad in connection with illicit firearms, the police in France open national proceedings against this person. Two cases were presented where French nationals have committed firearms-related offences in other countries.
The UK representatives have underlined in their presentation the current threats from converted weapons and the respective operational activities undertaken to respond to them. The main supply sources and routes were presented also highlighting the cooperation with law enforcement services of other countries and EUROPOL in countering the trafficking. The 3D-printed parts for firearms were identified as an emerging issue, which requires further attention from the law enforcement community.
The Romanian representative has shared information about the organizational structures in his country, which have a mandate to respond to firearms trafficking and has informed about the work of the Firearms Focal Point and the database on illicit firearms. He has also explained with detail the implementation of the operation CONVERSUS on data sharing on seized blank firing/converted weapons, which is also linked to one of the main problems in Romania – the convertible weapons.
The Moldovan prosecutor has identified the main issue related to firearms trafficking in his country: it acts as a transit route for illicit firearms to reach the European Union; the market for illicit firearms is small; the supply for illicit firearms on many occasions originates from areas not under the control of the Moldovan authorities.
The representative of EUROPOL has shared information on numerous operations supported by the organization on countering firearms trafficking with the EU Member States and third countries, including Ukraine.
The event has provided a forum for discussions on emerging threats and sharing good practices in countering firearms trafficking. The event has also enabled participants to take stock of and describe the ongoing firearms trafficking trends in their countries and share information about the challenges and the effectiveness of the criminal justice response to this crime.
The workshop was organized with financial support from Germany.