Cross-border crime is understood as ‘any serious crime with a cross-border dimension committed at or along, or which is related to, the external borders’. Frontex is expected to address not only migrant smuggling or trafficking in human beings but also serious crime that adversely affects the security of the external EU borders. This may include for instance smuggling of stolen vehicles, drugs, firearms, tobacco products, mineral oils and alcohol (excise goods) or trafficking of hazardous materials. It could also concern the environmental crime such as waste or wildlife trafficking.
There is strong evidence that many criminal networks engage in the poly-criminal activity, adding simply migrant smuggling or trafficking in human beings to their ‘services portfolio’. Criminal groups facilitating irregular migration may also collaborate with networks involved with other types of serious and organised crime such as the production and provision of fraudulent documents, corruption, provision of safe houses and transportation, illicit money transfers and laundering. In some cases the same routes and modi operandi are used for migrant smuggling and illegal goods trafficking.
Given the complex character of cross-border crime threats, comprehensive operational responses are required. Therefore especially risk mitigation measures taken by Member States and Frontex at the EU external borders need to be based on risk analysis findings and identified criminal threats. Besides risk analysis support, the Agency may provide technical and operational assistance to Member States to reinforce their capacity to fulfill their obligations with regard to the control of the external borders and to face challenges at the external borders resulting also from cross-border crime. This support may consist of training, advice on appropriate technological tools or launch of an operational response either in the form of a Joint Operation or even a Rapid Border Intervention.
Frontex operational responses are always aiming at serving those multiple purposes to better respond and tackle wide range of threats encountered at the EU external borders.
In line with the European Integrated Border Management concept, the Agency coordinates its cross-border crime related activities also with Europol and other relevant actors. Frontex has developed a system to collect personal data on criminal suspects collected during its Joint Operations and shares the analysed personal data with Europol. Frontex is also fully engaged with the EU Policy Cycle / European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT), which was created to address serious and organised crime in Europe. The support to EU Policy Cycle may embrace both the execution of the Operational Actions (leadership or participation) or Joint Action Days (coordinated or participated by Frontex). In both cases, The Agency cooperates closely with Member States and other JHA Agencies, especially Europol.Frontex is furthermore tasked to support the coordinated implementation of the Common Risk Indicators on foreign terrorist fighters as well as to assist the Member States to tighten controls of external borders to detect suspicious travels of foreign terrorist fighters and smuggling of firearms, in cooperation with Europol. Almost all Frontex coordinated sea, land and air border operations taking place at border crossing points include these operational objectives. In addition, Frontex has developed specific situational awareness material tailored for border guards in cooperation with Europol.