07
Apr
12:36 UTC

MAX – Europe and the Americas Daily Summary – April 7, 2021

The following report reviews current events in the Europe and the Americas region and their possible effect on business continuity and security.

Highlights of the Day

Americas

  • Brazil: Justice Minister replaces heads of federal police with Bolsonaro-backed officers on April 6; likely effort to bolster police loyalty
  • South America: Operation against arms trafficking in region conducted March 8-28, per April 6 reports; further coordinated operations likely
  • USA: Adverse weather forecast across southern, central regions through at least early April 9; remain cognizant of authorities’ updates

Europe

  • Finland: Police record uptick in transnational drug trafficking per April 5 reports; bolstered monitoring, preventive measures likely 
  • Russia: Doctors, supporters of Kremlin critic Navalny detained over protest in Pokrov on April 6; crackdown on opposition to continue
  • Ukraine: Zelensky urges NATO to accelerate Kyiv’s integration process on April 6; increased calls for accession plan likely in near-term

 

Americas Actionable items

Americas: Countries extend domestic restrictions as COVID-19 cases continue to rise on April 7; remain cognizant of authorities’ updates

In Canada, Quebec officials announced adjustments to public health measures in red and orange zones. The new measures include closing gyms and reversing the province’s decision to send Grade 9, 10, and 11 students back to classrooms full time. In Colombia, Bogota will reportedly enter a three-day lockdown from April 10. In Chile, authorities have announced the closure of the country’s borders during April to non-resident foreign nationals on the WHO’s list of ‘Active Countries.’ Exemptions on humanitarian grounds may be considered. In El Salvador, authorities have eased COVID-19-related international travel restrictions and protocols as of April 6. In Mexico, the country’s health regulator Cofepris has authorized the emergency use of India’s COVID-19 vaccine COVAXIN, as of April 6. In Saint Lucia, authorities had introduced special restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the Easter holiday, which has expired, and the standard restriction controls have been reintroduced as of April 6. In Venezuela, authorities announced that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, small-scale companies will be exempted from paying taxes during 2021. 

Those operating or residing in the Americas on April 7 and the coming days are advised to remain cognizant of authorities’ instructions regarding quarantines and health procedures.

 

USA: Adverse weather forecast across southern, central regions through at least early April 9; remain cognizant of authorities’ updates

The National Weather Services (NWS) has issued warnings for thunderstorms, rainfall, strong winds, and flooding across central and southern regions through at least early April 9. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has issued a “Slight Risk” alert, the second level on a five-tier scale for severe weather, for parts of central and eastern Kansas, far-southeastern Nebraska, far-eastern Texas, Arkansas, northern Louisiana, central and northern Mississippi, and far-western Tennessee. It has reported the possibility of isolated but intense storms, including hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes. Urban flooding is also anticipated in developed areas with easily overwhelmed, or a lack of, stormwater drainage systems. Landslides are also expected in mountainous regions. Further, disruptions to electricity and telecommunications services are anticipated where significant flooding or landslides impact utility networks. Floodwaters and debris flows could render bridges, rail networks, or roadways impassable, impacting overland travel around affected areas. Severe weather could also trigger flight delays and cancellations at regional airports. Additionally, the Wisconsin governor declared a state of emergency amid increased wildfire conditions due to gusty winds and low humidity levels on April 6. 

Those operating or residing in the aforementioned regions on April 7 and over the coming days are advised to remain cognizant of local authorities’ updates regarding weather-related risks. Allot for disruptions to travel and public services due to inclement weather conditions.

 

Americas Notable events

Brazil: Justice Minister replaces heads of federal police with Bolsonaro-backed officers on April 6; likely effort to bolster police loyalty

Justice Minister Anderson Torres replaced the heads of the federal police and federal highway police with candidates backed by President Jair Bolsonaro. Torres, a former federal police officer, was appointed as the new Justice Minister on April 1 following Bolsonaro’s largest cabinet reshuffle. In 2020, former Justice Minister Sergio Moro said that Bolsonaro had been seeking to change the federal police chief since 2019 for personal and political reasons. 

The new designations highlight growing concerns over Bolsonaro’s attempts to establish greater influence over the national public security forces. Given that the move will grant Bolsonaro greater access to federal police probes into his family and supporters, opposition members are liable to accuse him of trying to interfere in the independent working of the federal police corps, with calls demanding his resignation likely to ensue. Further, the move might be seen by his detractors as indicative of Bolsonaro’s attempts to shore up the loyalty of security forces in the event of unrest following a potential defeat in the 2022 general elections, as political polarization deepens ahead of the vote. 

 

Colombia: Three officials injured in armed attack on April 6 in Cauca; security landscape to remain critical in near term 

Three officials including two mayors and a patrolman were injured during an armed attack on April 6 in Caloto, Cauca. The attack was perpetrated during the night hours (local time) in the vicinity of the Hacienda La Emperatriz. The attack follows a series of confrontations in Calota between security personnel and armed groups including the dissident group Dagoberto Ramos Ortiz since March 26. The ongoing clashes have resulted in the displacement of nearly 573 individuals since the beginning of the confrontation. Further, on April 4, an indigenous community member was also murdered by the aforementioned armed group. 

Given the ongoing operations targeting the Dagoberto Ramos Ortiz armed group, the recent incident is likely to have been retaliatory in nature. The incident also indicates the credible security risk posed to civilians amid clashes between security personnel and organized criminal groups, often leading to displacements. As such, confrontations between the National Army and members of the dissident group are likely to continue in the near term. With this, the security landscape in Calota is likely to deteriorate in the near term. 

 

Mexico: Police officer, two assailants dead following shooting in Guadalajara, Jalisco on April 5; further attacks against police liable 

A police officer and two suspected assailants were found dead following a shootout in Guadalajara, Jalisco, while another officer sustained fatal injuries on April 5. The incident occured at the Calle Marquesa de Calderon intersection, where the attackers stepped out of a vehicle and ambushed the officers. The driver was apprehended, and explosive devices were recovered. Reports haven’t confirmed the involvement of organized gangs in the event. Four police officers have been killed in shootouts in Jalisco since January. 

The recent incident reiterates the threat faced by police officers in Jalisco in recent months. Although the attackers’ affiliation remains unconfirmed, the complicity of organized gangs is likely given the modus operandi involved. The recovery of explosives also indicates that the perpetrators are possibly affiliated to a criminal network. Additionally, Guadalajara has witnessed bolstered security presence in recent months due to the upcoming legislative elections. Given the same, the recent shooting is likely in retaliation to intensified crackdown on criminal gangs in the region. As such, further attacks targeting police personnel in Guadalajara are liable in the near-term.

 

South America: Operation against arms trafficking in region conducted March 8-28, per April 6 reports; further coordinated operations likely

The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducted a police operation targeting arms trafficking in South America along with local police, customs, and border services from March 8-28, per April 6 reports. Operation Trigger VI resulted in nearly 4,000 arrests across all 13 South American countries, with 200,000 illegal arms, components, ammunition, and explosives seized. Results of the operation also linked arms trafficking with other serious crimes, including drug trafficking, human trafficking, counterfeiting, and smuggling.

Operation Trigger VI is notable for its scope along with the successful coordination between INTERPOL, UNODC, and local security authorities in all 13 South American nations. Further, the operation revealed ongoing security vulnerabilities throughout the South American continent in stemming the illicit flow of weapons, drugs, and humans, which is unlikely to abate in the near-term. With that being said, the success of the operation is liable to lead to further coordinated operations between INTERPOL, UNODC, and local police in South America in the medium-to-long term.

 

USA: Navy corpsman shot dead after injuring two servicemen with gun in Frederick, MD on April 7; likely targeted, linked to work 

A Navy corpsman, identified as 38-year old Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet who was assigned to Fort Detrick, shot and injured two sailors in Frederick, MD, on April 7. The first shooting occurred at a military facility in a business park that serves as a warehouse used by the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) to store research supplies and equipment. Shortly after, the suspect drove to Fort Detrick, where he was shot dead by the police after brandishing a weapon. The suspect used a rifle, however, it remains unconfirmed if it was issued by the military. 

Given that reports do not indicate that the suspect shot indiscriminately at random bystanders in the business park, it remains likely that the attack was targeted. While the motive remains unconfirmed as of writing, with both the suspect and the victims being servicemen at the same facility, there remains a high likelihood of the incident being linked to their work or personal conflicts. Regardless, with the attack coming amid a series of shootings across the country, it is likely to further increase dialogue on gun violence. 

 

Europe Actionable items

Europe: Authorities ease restrictions as countries continue their vaccination campaigns on April 7; remain cognizant of authorities’ updates

In Austria, authorities have extended the existing lockdown restrictions related to the COVID-19 outbreak in the eastern federal states of Burgenland, Lower Austria, and Vienna until April 18. In the Czech Republic, authorities have announced the easing of several COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. The ongoing night-time curfew will be lifted with the end of the state of emergency on April 11. In Denmark, the government has launched a COVID-19 passport scheme that will facilitate nonessential businesses to reopen to customers. In Hungary, authorities have announced the easing of several COVID-19 restrictions after the country surpassed the government-proposed vaccination milestone of inoculating one-quarter of the population with at least one vaccine dose. In Kosovo, as of April 7, authorities have tightened COVID-19 restrictions due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. A daily 22:00-05:00 curfew is in effect nationwide. In Lithuania, as of April 7, authorities have lifted restrictions on movement between municipalities. In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on April 6, the end of the state of alarm on May 9.

Those operating or residing in Europe on April 7 and the coming days are advised to remain cognizant of authorities’ instructions regarding quarantines, travel restrictions, and health procedures. 

 

France: Farmers’ unions to hold vehicular protest in Toulouse from 07:45 (local time) on April 8; maintain vigilance

The Federation Departementale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Agricoles-31 (FESEA-31), along with other farmers’ unions, will hold a vehicular tractor protest in Toulouse on April 8 against new agricultural laws proposed by the government. Protesters will gather at multiple locations along the Peripherique de Toulouse road, including Auterive at 07:45 (local time), Salle des-fetes-de Verfeil, Capens and Villefranche de Lauragais at 08:30, and Rond-point des Roques a Cornebarrieu and Pibrac at 09:00. Protesters will then congregate in the city center. Organizers have called on activists to block roads until 18:00. A similar protest took place in Toulouse in 2018, causing significant disruptions. 

Based on precedent, the protest is likely to witness a turnout in the high-dozens to low-hundreds. Due to heightened anti-government sentiment among farmers, the protest carries with it a latent potential for unrest, including protesters burning tires and potential clashes with police, as evidenced in the 2018 protests. Given the use of tractors, coupled with calls to block roads, severe disruptions to pedestrian and vehicular traffic across Toulouse are expected throughout the day on April 8.

Those operating or residing in Toulouse on April 8 are advised to maintain vigilance and allot for disruptions in the vicinity of the abovementioned locations due to the scheduled protest.

 

France: Trade unions to hold nationwide strike, associated protest slated to take place in Paris on April 8; maintain vigilance

Multiple trade unions will participate in a nationwide general strike on April 8. The unions include Confederation Generale du Travail (CGT), Force Ouvriere (FO), Confederation Francaise des Travailleurs Chretiens (CFTC), and Confederation Francaise de l’Encadrement-Confederation Generale des Cadres (CFE-CGC).Additionally, multiple education unions will hold a protest at Place Edmond Rostand at 13:00 (local time) on April 8.

Given the mobilization capabilities of the unions, the strike is likely to be widely adhered to, resulting in significant disruptions to services nationwide. Considering heightened anti-government sentiments, the protest at Place Edmond Rostand is likely to attract a turnout in the low-to-mid hundreds. Given current COVID-19 restrictions, a bolstered security presence is likely around the protest to monitor proceedings and ensure social distancing. While the protest has been organized as a peaceful demonstration, given precedent, the demonstration carries with it a latent potential for unrest in the event that police attempt to break up the protest. Disruptions to pedestrian and vehicular traffic can be expected in the vicinity of Place Edmond Rostand from the afternoon hours onwards.

Those operating or residing in Paris on April 8 are advised to maintain vigilance and allot for disruptions in the vicinity of Place Edmond Rostand.

 

Netherlands: Protest against PM Rutte to take place at Museumplein in Amsterdam at 17:00 (local time) on April 7; maintain vigilance

A protest against Prime Minister Mark Rutte is scheduled to take place at Museumplein in Amsterdam at 17:00 (local time) on April 7. The protest is being held to call for Rutte’s resignation due to his alleged involvement in multiple scandals. Multiple activists are scheduled to speak at the event. Organizers have called on participants to wear face masks and ensure social distancing at the protest. 

Based on organizers’ estimates, the protest is likely to attract a turnout in the mid-to-high-hundreds. Given that the protest will take place at Museumplein, where frequent demonstrations have taken place in recent weeks, a bolstered security presence is expected to monitor proceedings. While the protest has been organized as a peaceful event, given heightened anti-government sentiments, the potential for unrest remains. As such, localized clashes between protesters and the police cannot be ruled out. In the event of mass unrest, police are liable to use forcible dispersal methods, including water cannons and conducting arrests. Disruptions to pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the vicinity of Museumplein are anticipated from the early evening hours onwards.

Those operating or residing in Amsterdam on April 7 are advised to maintain vigilance and allot for disruptions in the vicinity of Museumplein from the early evening hours onwards.

 

Europe Notable Events

Finland: Police record uptick in transnational drug trafficking per April 5 reports; bolstered monitoring, preventive measures likely 

On April 5, Helsinki police reported an increase in drug trafficking activities linked to international crime syndicates in the country in recent years. According to police reports, transnational organized criminal groups have been responsible for increasing drug-related crimes, especially in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Further, the number of organized crime groups has increased over the last 10 years.

The report reiterates the increased potential threat emanating from transnational drug trafficking in the country, with a surge in trafficking operations likely linked to the reported uptick in domestic demand for amphetamines and cannabis imported illegally from Baltic countries, along with cannabis from Africa. As transnational organized crime groups have long been a persistent problem in neighboring countries, such as Sweden, wherein hundreds of drug-related shootouts and bombings occur every year, Finnish authorities are likely to closely monitor development and take preventive measures to curb the threat of violence. Given that Finland currently has no specific national legislation for combating organized crime, such bills are also liable to be introduced by authorities moving forward. 

 

Russia: Doctors, supporters of Kremlin critic Navalny detained over protest in Pokrov on April 6; crackdown on opposition to continue

Reports indicate that at least nine supporters of jailed opposition critic Alexei Navalny were detained outside the IK-2 penal colony in Pokrov on April 6. Some doctors were blocked from examining Navalny, who is currently on a hunger strike demanding proper medical treatment. Anastasia Vasilyeva, Navalny’s personal doctor and head of the Alliance of Doctors medical trade union, critical of the government, has also been detained, along with a journalist. On April 5, Navalny was transferred to a prison medical unit following a high fever.

Despite Navalny’s deteriorating health attracting widespread criticism from the Western governments, Moscow is likely to continue dismissing such concerns, accusing the Kremlin critic of faking his medical problems to gain public attention. Further, officials are likely to continue the extensive state-sponsored crackdown on opposition groups and unions associated with Navalny moving forward, evidenced by the arrest of Anastasia Vasilyeva and other activists. As such, the recent developments are likely to further exacerbate calls for Navalny’s release on medical grounds with opposition protests likely to resume in the near term. 

 

Sweden: SAPO arrests Afghan couple suspected of planning attack in Stockholm, per April 6 reports; reiterates heightened Islamist threat

According to April 6 reports, the Swedish Security Service (SAPO) arrested two individuals suspected of militancy on April 2. The suspects, a couple from Afghanistan, were allegedly planning an attack in Stockholm County. The couple received work and residence permits in 2015, which were extended to September 2023. While few details have been released, SAPO confirmed a large seizure of IT material. Additionally, SAPO stated that the attack was likely imminent, with the suspects planning the attack since January. Both suspects deny the allegations. Similar arrests were conducted in Denmark and Norway in February.  

Considering that SAPO stated the couple was planning an imminent attack, it is likely the suspects posed a credible threat. As such, the arrests reiterate the heightened Islamist militant threat in Sweden, with the national threat level currently at level 3, “elevated threat.” Moreover, that militant-related arrests were made in Denmark and Norway suggests a potential increase in radicalization across Scandinavia. With that, SAPO is expected to carry out further counter-militancy operations, as well as possible cross-border operations with Danish and Norwegian security moving forward. 

 

Ukraine: Zelensky urges NATO to accelerate Kyiv’s integration process on April 6; increased calls for accession plan likely in near-term

President Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly urged NATO to speed up Ukraine’s integration process amid increasing tensions with Russia in the eastern and northern regions on April 6. Zelensky discussed the escalation in tensions in Donbas with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Reports indicate that Russia has mobilized thousands of military personnel amid intensified clashes in the conflicted regions. Moscow has criticized Zelensky’s comments stating that Kyiv’s NATO membership will further deteriorate the situation. Meanwhile, the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) is preparing a decision on measures towards Ukraine’s integration with NATO.

The recent developments highlight Ukraine’s increasing attempts to gather diplomatic support from Western countries and NATO amid an intensified standoff with Moscow in the eastern region, given the reported build-up of Russian troops in Donbas since late March. As such, NATO is likely to strengthen its military presence over the Black Sea region in the near-to-medium term in response to Moscow’s “provocations” across the borders with Ukraine. Meanwhile, Kyiv is liable to call upon NATO members to lay out the Membership Action Plan for Ukraine’s accession in the near-term.

 

Notable Dates

April 8

  • France: Health workers strike in Paris

 

April 9

  • Kosovo: Kosovo Constitution Day

 

April 10

  • France: Protest in Paris
  • Germany: Rally in Berlin
  • UK: Protest in Bristol

 

April 11

  • Chile: Public Holiday
  • Costa Rica: Juan Santamaria Day
  • Peru, Ecuador: General Elections

 

April 11

  • Germany: Protest in Berlin

 

April 13

  • France: Inter-union strike in Paris

 

April 14

  • Cayman Islands: Public Holiday – General Elections

 

April 19

  • Honduras: Americas’ Day Holiday
  • Venezuela: Independence Declaration Day

 

April 21

  • Brazil: Tiradentes Day 
  • Falkland Islands: Queen’s Birthday

The following report reviews current events in the Europe and the Americas region and their possible effect on business continuity and security.

Highlights of the Day

Americas

  • Brazil: Justice Minister replaces heads of federal police with Bolsonaro-backed officers on April 6; likely effort to bolster police loyalty
  • South America: Operation against arms trafficking in region conducted March 8-28, per April 6 reports; further coordinated operations likely
  • USA: Adverse weather forecast across southern, central regions through at least early April 9; remain cognizant of authorities’ updates

Europe

  • Finland: Police record uptick in transnational drug trafficking per April 5 reports; bolstered monitoring, preventive measures likely 
  • Russia: Doctors, supporters of Kremlin critic Navalny detained over protest in Pokrov on April 6; crackdown on opposition to continue
  • Ukraine: Zelensky urges NATO to accelerate Kyiv’s integration process on April 6; increased calls for accession plan likely in near-term

 

Americas Actionable items

Americas: Countries extend domestic restrictions as COVID-19 cases continue to rise on April 7; remain cognizant of authorities’ updates

In Canada, Quebec officials announced adjustments to public health measures in red and orange zones. The new measures include closing gyms and reversing the province’s decision to send Grade 9, 10, and 11 students back to classrooms full time. In Colombia, Bogota will reportedly enter a three-day lockdown from April 10. In Chile, authorities have announced the closure of the country’s borders during April to non-resident foreign nationals on the WHO’s list of ‘Active Countries.’ Exemptions on humanitarian grounds may be considered. In El Salvador, authorities have eased COVID-19-related international travel restrictions and protocols as of April 6. In Mexico, the country’s health regulator Cofepris has authorized the emergency use of India’s COVID-19 vaccine COVAXIN, as of April 6. In Saint Lucia, authorities had introduced special restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the Easter holiday, which has expired, and the standard restriction controls have been reintroduced as of April 6. In Venezuela, authorities announced that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, small-scale companies will be exempted from paying taxes during 2021. 

Those operating or residing in the Americas on April 7 and the coming days are advised to remain cognizant of authorities’ instructions regarding quarantines and health procedures.

 

USA: Adverse weather forecast across southern, central regions through at least early April 9; remain cognizant of authorities’ updates

The National Weather Services (NWS) has issued warnings for thunderstorms, rainfall, strong winds, and flooding across central and southern regions through at least early April 9. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has issued a “Slight Risk” alert, the second level on a five-tier scale for severe weather, for parts of central and eastern Kansas, far-southeastern Nebraska, far-eastern Texas, Arkansas, northern Louisiana, central and northern Mississippi, and far-western Tennessee. It has reported the possibility of isolated but intense storms, including hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes. Urban flooding is also anticipated in developed areas with easily overwhelmed, or a lack of, stormwater drainage systems. Landslides are also expected in mountainous regions. Further, disruptions to electricity and telecommunications services are anticipated where significant flooding or landslides impact utility networks. Floodwaters and debris flows could render bridges, rail networks, or roadways impassable, impacting overland travel around affected areas. Severe weather could also trigger flight delays and cancellations at regional airports. Additionally, the Wisconsin governor declared a state of emergency amid increased wildfire conditions due to gusty winds and low humidity levels on April 6. 

Those operating or residing in the aforementioned regions on April 7 and over the coming days are advised to remain cognizant of local authorities’ updates regarding weather-related risks. Allot for disruptions to travel and public services due to inclement weather conditions.

 

Americas Notable events

Brazil: Justice Minister replaces heads of federal police with Bolsonaro-backed officers on April 6; likely effort to bolster police loyalty

Justice Minister Anderson Torres replaced the heads of the federal police and federal highway police with candidates backed by President Jair Bolsonaro. Torres, a former federal police officer, was appointed as the new Justice Minister on April 1 following Bolsonaro’s largest cabinet reshuffle. In 2020, former Justice Minister Sergio Moro said that Bolsonaro had been seeking to change the federal police chief since 2019 for personal and political reasons. 

The new designations highlight growing concerns over Bolsonaro’s attempts to establish greater influence over the national public security forces. Given that the move will grant Bolsonaro greater access to federal police probes into his family and supporters, opposition members are liable to accuse him of trying to interfere in the independent working of the federal police corps, with calls demanding his resignation likely to ensue. Further, the move might be seen by his detractors as indicative of Bolsonaro’s attempts to shore up the loyalty of security forces in the event of unrest following a potential defeat in the 2022 general elections, as political polarization deepens ahead of the vote. 

 

Colombia: Three officials injured in armed attack on April 6 in Cauca; security landscape to remain critical in near term 

Three officials including two mayors and a patrolman were injured during an armed attack on April 6 in Caloto, Cauca. The attack was perpetrated during the night hours (local time) in the vicinity of the Hacienda La Emperatriz. The attack follows a series of confrontations in Calota between security personnel and armed groups including the dissident group Dagoberto Ramos Ortiz since March 26. The ongoing clashes have resulted in the displacement of nearly 573 individuals since the beginning of the confrontation. Further, on April 4, an indigenous community member was also murdered by the aforementioned armed group. 

Given the ongoing operations targeting the Dagoberto Ramos Ortiz armed group, the recent incident is likely to have been retaliatory in nature. The incident also indicates the credible security risk posed to civilians amid clashes between security personnel and organized criminal groups, often leading to displacements. As such, confrontations between the National Army and members of the dissident group are likely to continue in the near term. With this, the security landscape in Calota is likely to deteriorate in the near term. 

 

Mexico: Police officer, two assailants dead following shooting in Guadalajara, Jalisco on April 5; further attacks against police liable 

A police officer and two suspected assailants were found dead following a shootout in Guadalajara, Jalisco, while another officer sustained fatal injuries on April 5. The incident occured at the Calle Marquesa de Calderon intersection, where the attackers stepped out of a vehicle and ambushed the officers. The driver was apprehended, and explosive devices were recovered. Reports haven’t confirmed the involvement of organized gangs in the event. Four police officers have been killed in shootouts in Jalisco since January. 

The recent incident reiterates the threat faced by police officers in Jalisco in recent months. Although the attackers’ affiliation remains unconfirmed, the complicity of organized gangs is likely given the modus operandi involved. The recovery of explosives also indicates that the perpetrators are possibly affiliated to a criminal network. Additionally, Guadalajara has witnessed bolstered security presence in recent months due to the upcoming legislative elections. Given the same, the recent shooting is likely in retaliation to intensified crackdown on criminal gangs in the region. As such, further attacks targeting police personnel in Guadalajara are liable in the near-term.

 

South America: Operation against arms trafficking in region conducted March 8-28, per April 6 reports; further coordinated operations likely

The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducted a police operation targeting arms trafficking in South America along with local police, customs, and border services from March 8-28, per April 6 reports. Operation Trigger VI resulted in nearly 4,000 arrests across all 13 South American countries, with 200,000 illegal arms, components, ammunition, and explosives seized. Results of the operation also linked arms trafficking with other serious crimes, including drug trafficking, human trafficking, counterfeiting, and smuggling.

Operation Trigger VI is notable for its scope along with the successful coordination between INTERPOL, UNODC, and local security authorities in all 13 South American nations. Further, the operation revealed ongoing security vulnerabilities throughout the South American continent in stemming the illicit flow of weapons, drugs, and humans, which is unlikely to abate in the near-term. With that being said, the success of the operation is liable to lead to further coordinated operations between INTERPOL, UNODC, and local police in South America in the medium-to-long term.

 

USA: Navy corpsman shot dead after injuring two servicemen with gun in Frederick, MD on April 7; likely targeted, linked to work 

A Navy corpsman, identified as 38-year old Fantahun Girma Woldesenbet who was assigned to Fort Detrick, shot and injured two sailors in Frederick, MD, on April 7. The first shooting occurred at a military facility in a business park that serves as a warehouse used by the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) to store research supplies and equipment. Shortly after, the suspect drove to Fort Detrick, where he was shot dead by the police after brandishing a weapon. The suspect used a rifle, however, it remains unconfirmed if it was issued by the military. 

Given that reports do not indicate that the suspect shot indiscriminately at random bystanders in the business park, it remains likely that the attack was targeted. While the motive remains unconfirmed as of writing, with both the suspect and the victims being servicemen at the same facility, there remains a high likelihood of the incident being linked to their work or personal conflicts. Regardless, with the attack coming amid a series of shootings across the country, it is likely to further increase dialogue on gun violence. 

 

Europe Actionable items

Europe: Authorities ease restrictions as countries continue their vaccination campaigns on April 7; remain cognizant of authorities’ updates

In Austria, authorities have extended the existing lockdown restrictions related to the COVID-19 outbreak in the eastern federal states of Burgenland, Lower Austria, and Vienna until April 18. In the Czech Republic, authorities have announced the easing of several COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. The ongoing night-time curfew will be lifted with the end of the state of emergency on April 11. In Denmark, the government has launched a COVID-19 passport scheme that will facilitate nonessential businesses to reopen to customers. In Hungary, authorities have announced the easing of several COVID-19 restrictions after the country surpassed the government-proposed vaccination milestone of inoculating one-quarter of the population with at least one vaccine dose. In Kosovo, as of April 7, authorities have tightened COVID-19 restrictions due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. A daily 22:00-05:00 curfew is in effect nationwide. In Lithuania, as of April 7, authorities have lifted restrictions on movement between municipalities. In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced on April 6, the end of the state of alarm on May 9.

Those operating or residing in Europe on April 7 and the coming days are advised to remain cognizant of authorities’ instructions regarding quarantines, travel restrictions, and health procedures. 

 

France: Farmers’ unions to hold vehicular protest in Toulouse from 07:45 (local time) on April 8; maintain vigilance

The Federation Departementale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Agricoles-31 (FESEA-31), along with other farmers’ unions, will hold a vehicular tractor protest in Toulouse on April 8 against new agricultural laws proposed by the government. Protesters will gather at multiple locations along the Peripherique de Toulouse road, including Auterive at 07:45 (local time), Salle des-fetes-de Verfeil, Capens and Villefranche de Lauragais at 08:30, and Rond-point des Roques a Cornebarrieu and Pibrac at 09:00. Protesters will then congregate in the city center. Organizers have called on activists to block roads until 18:00. A similar protest took place in Toulouse in 2018, causing significant disruptions. 

Based on precedent, the protest is likely to witness a turnout in the high-dozens to low-hundreds. Due to heightened anti-government sentiment among farmers, the protest carries with it a latent potential for unrest, including protesters burning tires and potential clashes with police, as evidenced in the 2018 protests. Given the use of tractors, coupled with calls to block roads, severe disruptions to pedestrian and vehicular traffic across Toulouse are expected throughout the day on April 8.

Those operating or residing in Toulouse on April 8 are advised to maintain vigilance and allot for disruptions in the vicinity of the abovementioned locations due to the scheduled protest.

 

France: Trade unions to hold nationwide strike, associated protest slated to take place in Paris on April 8; maintain vigilance

Multiple trade unions will participate in a nationwide general strike on April 8. The unions include Confederation Generale du Travail (CGT), Force Ouvriere (FO), Confederation Francaise des Travailleurs Chretiens (CFTC), and Confederation Francaise de l’Encadrement-Confederation Generale des Cadres (CFE-CGC).Additionally, multiple education unions will hold a protest at Place Edmond Rostand at 13:00 (local time) on April 8.

Given the mobilization capabilities of the unions, the strike is likely to be widely adhered to, resulting in significant disruptions to services nationwide. Considering heightened anti-government sentiments, the protest at Place Edmond Rostand is likely to attract a turnout in the low-to-mid hundreds. Given current COVID-19 restrictions, a bolstered security presence is likely around the protest to monitor proceedings and ensure social distancing. While the protest has been organized as a peaceful demonstration, given precedent, the demonstration carries with it a latent potential for unrest in the event that police attempt to break up the protest. Disruptions to pedestrian and vehicular traffic can be expected in the vicinity of Place Edmond Rostand from the afternoon hours onwards.

Those operating or residing in Paris on April 8 are advised to maintain vigilance and allot for disruptions in the vicinity of Place Edmond Rostand.

 

Netherlands: Protest against PM Rutte to take place at Museumplein in Amsterdam at 17:00 (local time) on April 7; maintain vigilance

A protest against Prime Minister Mark Rutte is scheduled to take place at Museumplein in Amsterdam at 17:00 (local time) on April 7. The protest is being held to call for Rutte’s resignation due to his alleged involvement in multiple scandals. Multiple activists are scheduled to speak at the event. Organizers have called on participants to wear face masks and ensure social distancing at the protest. 

Based on organizers’ estimates, the protest is likely to attract a turnout in the mid-to-high-hundreds. Given that the protest will take place at Museumplein, where frequent demonstrations have taken place in recent weeks, a bolstered security presence is expected to monitor proceedings. While the protest has been organized as a peaceful event, given heightened anti-government sentiments, the potential for unrest remains. As such, localized clashes between protesters and the police cannot be ruled out. In the event of mass unrest, police are liable to use forcible dispersal methods, including water cannons and conducting arrests. Disruptions to pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the vicinity of Museumplein are anticipated from the early evening hours onwards.

Those operating or residing in Amsterdam on April 7 are advised to maintain vigilance and allot for disruptions in the vicinity of Museumplein from the early evening hours onwards.

 

Europe Notable Events

Finland: Police record uptick in transnational drug trafficking per April 5 reports; bolstered monitoring, preventive measures likely 

On April 5, Helsinki police reported an increase in drug trafficking activities linked to international crime syndicates in the country in recent years. According to police reports, transnational organized criminal groups have been responsible for increasing drug-related crimes, especially in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Further, the number of organized crime groups has increased over the last 10 years.

The report reiterates the increased potential threat emanating from transnational drug trafficking in the country, with a surge in trafficking operations likely linked to the reported uptick in domestic demand for amphetamines and cannabis imported illegally from Baltic countries, along with cannabis from Africa. As transnational organized crime groups have long been a persistent problem in neighboring countries, such as Sweden, wherein hundreds of drug-related shootouts and bombings occur every year, Finnish authorities are likely to closely monitor development and take preventive measures to curb the threat of violence. Given that Finland currently has no specific national legislation for combating organized crime, such bills are also liable to be introduced by authorities moving forward. 

 

Russia: Doctors, supporters of Kremlin critic Navalny detained over protest in Pokrov on April 6; crackdown on opposition to continue

Reports indicate that at least nine supporters of jailed opposition critic Alexei Navalny were detained outside the IK-2 penal colony in Pokrov on April 6. Some doctors were blocked from examining Navalny, who is currently on a hunger strike demanding proper medical treatment. Anastasia Vasilyeva, Navalny’s personal doctor and head of the Alliance of Doctors medical trade union, critical of the government, has also been detained, along with a journalist. On April 5, Navalny was transferred to a prison medical unit following a high fever.

Despite Navalny’s deteriorating health attracting widespread criticism from the Western governments, Moscow is likely to continue dismissing such concerns, accusing the Kremlin critic of faking his medical problems to gain public attention. Further, officials are likely to continue the extensive state-sponsored crackdown on opposition groups and unions associated with Navalny moving forward, evidenced by the arrest of Anastasia Vasilyeva and other activists. As such, the recent developments are likely to further exacerbate calls for Navalny’s release on medical grounds with opposition protests likely to resume in the near term. 

 

Sweden: SAPO arrests Afghan couple suspected of planning attack in Stockholm, per April 6 reports; reiterates heightened Islamist threat

According to April 6 reports, the Swedish Security Service (SAPO) arrested two individuals suspected of militancy on April 2. The suspects, a couple from Afghanistan, were allegedly planning an attack in Stockholm County. The couple received work and residence permits in 2015, which were extended to September 2023. While few details have been released, SAPO confirmed a large seizure of IT material. Additionally, SAPO stated that the attack was likely imminent, with the suspects planning the attack since January. Both suspects deny the allegations. Similar arrests were conducted in Denmark and Norway in February.  

Considering that SAPO stated the couple was planning an imminent attack, it is likely the suspects posed a credible threat. As such, the arrests reiterate the heightened Islamist militant threat in Sweden, with the national threat level currently at level 3, “elevated threat.” Moreover, that militant-related arrests were made in Denmark and Norway suggests a potential increase in radicalization across Scandinavia. With that, SAPO is expected to carry out further counter-militancy operations, as well as possible cross-border operations with Danish and Norwegian security moving forward. 

 

Ukraine: Zelensky urges NATO to accelerate Kyiv’s integration process on April 6; increased calls for accession plan likely in near-term

President Volodymyr Zelensky reportedly urged NATO to speed up Ukraine’s integration process amid increasing tensions with Russia in the eastern and northern regions on April 6. Zelensky discussed the escalation in tensions in Donbas with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Reports indicate that Russia has mobilized thousands of military personnel amid intensified clashes in the conflicted regions. Moscow has criticized Zelensky’s comments stating that Kyiv’s NATO membership will further deteriorate the situation. Meanwhile, the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) is preparing a decision on measures towards Ukraine’s integration with NATO.

The recent developments highlight Ukraine’s increasing attempts to gather diplomatic support from Western countries and NATO amid an intensified standoff with Moscow in the eastern region, given the reported build-up of Russian troops in Donbas since late March. As such, NATO is likely to strengthen its military presence over the Black Sea region in the near-to-medium term in response to Moscow’s “provocations” across the borders with Ukraine. Meanwhile, Kyiv is liable to call upon NATO members to lay out the Membership Action Plan for Ukraine’s accession in the near-term.

 

Notable Dates

April 8

  • France: Health workers strike in Paris

 

April 9

  • Kosovo: Kosovo Constitution Day

 

April 10

  • France: Protest in Paris
  • Germany: Rally in Berlin
  • UK: Protest in Bristol

 

April 11

  • Chile: Public Holiday
  • Costa Rica: Juan Santamaria Day
  • Peru, Ecuador: General Elections

 

April 11

  • Germany: Protest in Berlin

 

April 13

  • France: Inter-union strike in Paris

 

April 14

  • Cayman Islands: Public Holiday – General Elections

 

April 19

  • Honduras: Americas’ Day Holiday
  • Venezuela: Independence Declaration Day

 

April 21

  • Brazil: Tiradentes Day 
  • Falkland Islands: Queen’s Birthday