This joint operation, “Mozaik 2023,” conducted across the Balkan region to combat child sexual exploitation, resulted in significant progress against this heinous crime. The operation, led by the Slovenian National Police and coordinated by Europol under the EMPACT initiative, involved multiple enforcement actions between 6 to 17 November.

North Macedonia’s Ministry of Interior reported that 41 raids led to the identification of 39 suspected child abusers, and law enforcement seized around 200 items containing child sexual abuse images or videos. Specifically, within North Macedonia, the Cybercrime Sector of the Ministry of Interior actively participated, conducting two raids in the Skopje area. These raids resulted in the seizure of various computer devices and mobile devices, and interviews were conducted with five individuals.

The primary aim of “Mozaik 2023” was to target individuals using online forums and messaging applications for the distribution of child sexual abuse material. Multiple countries in the Balkan region, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Hungary, collaborated in this operation. Europol played a vital role in facilitating information exchange and providing intelligence packages to continue investigative efforts both in the region and beyond.

Furthermore, within the EMPACT framework, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre have established an expert network in the Western Balkans. This network aims to bolster cross-border cooperation in combating child sexual abuse.

Europol’s ‘Say No!’ prevention campaign, designed to raise awareness about child sexual abuse, has been shared across the Western Balkans. It includes a video depicting scenarios involving online exploitation and provides guidance on reporting such crimes to law enforcement while also offering advice on preventing victimization.

This concerted effort and collaboration among multiple countries and agencies are crucial steps toward combating child sexual exploitation, aiming to both apprehend offenders and raise awareness to prevent such crimes.