OPINION

Crime in the EU

The annual Europol report on organized crime demonstrates the degree of risk posed by the 3,000 criminal gangs which are currently recorded as being active within European Union borders. Established local gangs in every EU member state have been shoved aside by invading – and usually more ruthless – Albanian, Russian, Turkish, Colombian, Moroccan and Nigerian mafias. Two trends have been observed over the recent period: First, criminal gangs made up of a specific ethnic group are profiting from cooperation with bands composed of different ethnic groups, thus organized crime is gradually acquiring a multicultural character. Second, the various gangs are expanding their activity in other sectors, in an effort to combine bigger profits with lower risk. Apart from the drug trade, these criminal gangs are engaged in migrant trafficking and the trading of illegal cigarettes, child porn and knockoff products. The fall of communist governments in Eastern Europe touched off successive waves of illegal migration over the past 12 years. Among the ranks of devastated people that were desperately seeking a better life in the nations of the European Union, there were also many criminals who saw crime as the easy path to wealth and power. The Europol report confirms the large number of criminals who live and operate within the EU but who come from countries beyond its borders. The document notes that gangs exploit ethnic communities that are already established within EU states in order to take root and consolidate within those countries. Because of its geographical location and its failure to monitor its northern border, Greece took in the largest proportion of migrants in Europe and, along with them, received a plethora of old and new criminals. To these we must add a number of prominent mobsters who bought the necessary travel documents, and even Greek nationality. It is no coincidence that our country has for many years been dogged by an upsurge in crime, especially theft, robberies, blackmail and killings. It is only in the last three years that the government has managed to bring the situation under some control and to bring down crime indices. However, on issues like the illegal drug and tobacco trade, human trafficking, prostitution and child porn, figures have actually worsened. The perpetrators are not isolated crooks but organized gangs that have a wide range of connections and access to new technologies. EU states must reorganize and modernize their police forces and enter into closer cooperation with each other.