Dubai, Turkey and the Western Balkans are hotbeds of crime in the EU’s neighborhood, according to internal reports.
“We know that a large number of high-value targets organize and allow their criminal activities while residing in countries (eg Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey) that are particularly attractive to European expatriate criminals,” said declared the EU in a memo dated November 13 and seen by EUobserver.
Police in nine EU states as well as Norway, Switzerland and the United States were conducting joint operations “to locate and extradite” untouchable “expatriate criminals and to confiscate their criminal assets,” he noted. .
“Getting to know their relationships and understand their way of life can reveal their vulnerabilities and potential pressure points,” the memo adds.
And Europol, the EU’s joint police agency in The Hague, was helping to create “a list of HVT [high value targets] residing in Dubai-UAE-Turkey, ”he said.
The document, titled ‘Operational Action Plan 2022 on High-Risk Criminal Networks’, was drafted by EU representatives in the Council, where Member States meet.
It was released ahead of Member States’ discussions on tackling crime priorities later this month and was based on information from Europol.
“In addition to trafficking hubs in the EU, Dubai (UAE) has become a key location for the main organizers and money laundering activities associated with the cocaine trade in the EU,” said another. memo from the EU, dated November 14.
The EU police aimed to “agree on operational cooperation with the Dubai authorities to target [suspected] containers from Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan transiting through the port of Dubai for further shipment to EU destinations, ”EU officials noted.
And the Taliban regime in Afghanistan meant more drugs were coming, EU records warned.
“High production yield [of heroin] … mainly in Afghanistan, may lead to increased trafficking activity to the EU, ”a memo said.
Methamphetamine production in Afghanistan was also “expanding rapidly” and “the new political situation in Afghanistan will require special attention from EU law enforcement agencies on (…)
Turkey and Balkans
Meanwhile, “Turkey remains the main transit country for heroin going to the EU, both on the Balkan routes and on the South Caucasus route,” EU officials said.
“Ukraine, Belarus and Azerbaijan are used as storage locations for consignments of heroin destined for the EU,” they noted.
Officials also spoke of joint police operations by the EU, US and Colombia to tackle the “global threat” of a “Balkan cartel” which was “mainly made up of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. , Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia ”.
“Importation from Latin America to the EU and continued distribution of cocaine on [the] EU narco-market … [are] the “core business” – the main criminal activity of this NCB [organised crime network] – as well as the forms of crime which accompany them, such as murders and violence linked to clan wars, corruption, money laundering “, states the EU report.
The Western Balkans have been identified as “a source of illegal firearms”.
“Hand grenades illicitly trafficked and used in some EU member states (…) usually come from Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries in the Western Balkans,” says an EU dossier.
And “Albanian-speaking criminal networks sexually exploit Albanian victims [of human-trafficking] across Europe, in particular in Kosovo, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom ”, notes a note from the ‘EU.
Turkey and the Western Balkans have also been designated as “centers” for migrant smugglers, in leagues with gangs in Belarus, Georgia, Russia and Ukraine.
“Due to the current operational situation regarding the Belarusian border with Lithuania and Poland, special attention should be paid to this direction,” EU officials said, referring to the recent use of migrants by the Belarus to attack the Polish borders.
But the overall picture of crime in the EU was more complex than that, the files said.
“The nature of organized crime is truly global, with over 180 nationalities involved in serious and organized criminal activity in the EU,” according to a report.
“Suspects from Latin America are increasingly involved in the EU cocaine trade. This includes nationals from Brazil, Colombia and Mexico,” the files noted.
Cocaine from Bolivia, Colombia and Peru was routed to the EU “mainly [via] Brazil and Ecuador as well as Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, ”they said.
Vietnamese gangs were smuggling MDMA pills and were guilty of human trafficking.
But ‘the geographical scope of the EU-based operation [of trafficked people] is truly global. Victims from neighboring countries to the east of the EU and not members of the EU, but also from Asian countries, are exploited in the labor industry, mainly in the countries of the west and north of the EU, “states an EU memo dated November 14.
“Sexual exploitation of victims (…) takes place in all EU member states,” he said.
The leaked files shed light on Europe’s dark underbelly.
“Some Member States have observed a noticeable increase in the level of violence associated with the cannabis trade,” says a report.
And “the number of violent incidents linked to the cocaine trade has increased. The nature of these attacks is also intensifying in terms of impact and victims, which now include journalists, lawyers, bystanders and others. people not involved in the cocaine trade, ”he added. added.
EU officials said “the Italian ‘Ndrangheta and the Sicilian Mafia” were “currently the most powerful type of Mafia and family-based OCGs [Organised Crime Groups]”, With members” established and active in several Member States and third countries “.
Their activities included “in primis, international drug trafficking and large-scale money laundering through the creation of new businesses,” said an EU memo.
Belgium and the Netherlands were “the main producers and suppliers of amphetamine and MDMA,” EU officials noted.
“A large amount of child pornography is housed in Europe. This has been the case in recent years when there has been displacement from North America, ”added an EU report.
And “suspected / known European” (high risk) offenders “were traveling to Thailand and other emerging hot spots” to abuse children, he said.