NEWS

European Union is expanding criminally

Organized crime is a «significant threat» to the European Union, with international criminal gangs throughout the bloc taking advantage of the opportunities offered by modern technology, institutional shortcomings and their economic clout, warned Europol at the end of November. Social, economic and even political structures are in danger of destabilization, the European police agency said. Apart from groups active within each country, there is evidence of collaboration between different groups which have resulted in hugely powerful criminal conglomerations. Gangs from countries outside the EU have also managed to prevail over domestic crime networks. EU enlargement gives rise to deepening concern, as it will push the Union’s eastern border right up to those of Russia, Ukraine and Moldova, regarded as centers for the trafficking in goods and people. Essentially, enlargement means criminal networks will be right next to EU territory at a time when stricter border controls appear inadequate to discourage organized crime. Albanian crime rings are reckoned by Europol to be a major threat, given the speed with which they spread throughout the EU, elbowing aside other criminal organizations. Regarded as one of the most violent mafias, they use diaspora Albanian communities to piggy-back into other countries. Turkish and Russian mafias are also extremely powerful. The most important activities engaged in by organized crime are the drugs trade and the smuggling of cigarettes and migrants, as well as trade in counterfeit goods, extending to medicines and every kind of spare part, even for airplanes. It also has a foothold in child pornography. Proceeds from crime are then injected back into society – another deepening problem. Experts in every field are involved in money laundering, in return for fat fees.