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On 26 June 2023 in Trieste, criminal investigators from Koper, in collaboration with the Italian and Croatian security authorities, successfully concluded a comprehensive and long-running criminal investigation. Their joint operation involved apprehending suspects and executing house searches, with the aim of dismantling a 17-member criminal group involved in smuggling irregular migrants across Slovenia, Italy, and Croatia.

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Today, 28 June 2023, the Italian security authorities (Trieste Police Force – Flying Squad), held a press conference at the Public Prosecutor's Office in Trieste, which was also attended by two Slovenian police representatives: Damijan Roškarič, Head of the Criminal Groups Section at the Criminal Police Directorate of the General Police Directorate, and Primož Ogrinc, Head of the Criminal Police Division at the Koper Police Directorate.

On Monday, 26 June 2023, the criminal investigators of the Criminal Police Division at the Koper Police Directorate, in collaboration with the Italian security authorities, specifically the investigators of the Flying Squad from Trieste, and with the support of the Croatian security authorities from the Istria Police Directorate, successfully concluded a long-running criminal investigation, directed by the Koper District Public Prosecutor's Office and the Trieste Public Prosecutor's Office. Based on the apprehensions and house searches carried out in the Italian territory, they were able to dismantle a criminal group whose members were active in Slovenia, Italy and Croatia.

Through diligent and proactive work in early 2022, the criminal investigators from Koper uncovered the presence of an organised criminal group comprising citizens from Albania, Kosovo, and North Macedonia. There were substantial grounds to suspect that these individuals, totalling 17 members, had formed an international criminal organisation, with the aim of smuggling irregular migrants and committing offenses of illegal crossing of the state border or territory. The criminal group was involved in the illicit transportation of Turkish, Bangladeshi, and other foreign nationals who did not meet the necessary requirements for entry and residency in Slovenia, the European Union and the Schengen area. Based on the evidence collected, a criminal investigation was initiated against the members of the criminal group, in which covert investigative measures were also deployed within the territory of Slovenia.

The Italian security authorities (the Flying Squad from Trieste) started their criminal investigation in October 2021. On 28 April 2022, the Trieste Public Prosecutor's Office sent a European Investigation Order to the Koper District Public Prosecutor's Office, requesting the Slovenian security authorities, specifically the Criminal Police Division at the Koper Police Directorate, to forward and surrender all relevant documentation pertaining to the criminal investigation, as well as to exchange photographs or evidence in order to establish the continuous operation of the criminal group.

During the course of the investigation, it was determined that the criminal group consisted of 17 individuals, who were citizens of Kosovo, Albania, and North Macedonia. Out of these members, 16 were residing in Italy, while one had a legal residence status in North Macedonia. Based on the investigation, the members of this organisation were found responsible for 21 offenses related to illegal crossings of the Slovenian border or territory.

Five members of the criminal organisation (two Albanian and three Kosovan nationals) were apprehended on Slovenian territory during the criminal investigation and were subsequently sentenced to prison terms ranging from one year to two years and ten months. Additionally, they were imposed accessory sentences (expulsion of a foreigner from the country for periods varying from two to three years) and various fines.

The criminal group members utilised their own vehicles and vehicles rented from various companies or borrowed from their friends or relatives to smuggle irregular migrants. During the transportation process across the territory of Slovenia, they always employed a scout vehicle that would provide early warning of potential police patrols. Furthermore, the criminal group members facilitated the irregular migrants by delivering essential supplies like food, drinks and changes of clothes at designated pick-up points. Cars and vans were the primary means of transport used in most migrant smuggling cases.

Over the course of the criminal investigation, it was discovered that the criminal group had smuggled or attempted to smuggle at least 152 irregular migrants (Turkish, Bangladeshi, Iraqi and Syrian nationals) across the territory of Slovenia into Italy. Of these, 69 irregular migrants were apprehended on Slovenian soil.

The estimated illicit financial gain obtained by the criminal group amounted to at least €394,000. The proceeds were distributed among the members based on their respective roles within the group. The average cost for a single transport from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Italy was approximately €3,500 per person. It is estimated that the individuals involved in transporting irregular migrants across Slovenia to Italy in vehicles earned approximately €300 per successful transport. On the other hand, those who led the migrants across Slovenian territory on foot received a higher amount of money (around €400 per person).

Throughout the criminal investigation, the criminal investigators from the Criminal Police Division at the Koper Police Directorate cooperated on a daily basis with the Italian security authorities (the Flying Squad from Trieste) and the Croatian security authorities (the Criminal Police Division at the Istria Police Directorate). On 26 June 2023, two criminal investigators from the Criminal Police Division at the Koper Police Directorate were present as observers during the conclusion of the criminal investigation in Trieste (apprehension of suspects and execution of house searches).

In Slovenia, the illegal crossing of the state border or territory constitutes an offence under Article 308/III VI of the Criminal Code and is punishable by a prison sentence of between three and 15 years and a fine.


The Slovenian Police are fully committed to taking all necessary measures to prevent, detect and investigate irregular migration, including identifying and combating organised criminal groups involved in human smuggling. Addressing the issue of irregular migration is a top priority for the Slovenian Police, which place great emphasis on international cooperation and close collaboration with Europol, neighbouring countries, other EU member states and the Western Balkans. Slovenia continues to be a transit country along the Balkan route, with irregular migration flows primarily directed towards Italy, Austria and other EU countries.