Turkey main staging point for illicit goods: Europol report
Europol’s “Serious and Organized Crime Threat Assessment” has said an estimated 3,600 organized crime gangs were active in Europe and that they were mainly trading in illegal drugs. DHA photoTurkey is the main staging point for illicit goods and irregular migrants travelling to the EU from parts of Asia, a new report by Europol, European Union’s law enforcement agency, said March 19.
The reports said an estimated 3,600 organized crime gangs were active in Europe and that they were mainly trading in illegal drugs, including supplying 124 tons of cocaine annually.
The agency warned that Turkey’s borders with the EU remain vulnerable despite intense law enforcement focus. “The country connects supplier countries to consumer markets in the member states. The vast majority of heroin in the EU continues to transit through Turkey and is trafficked by Turkish organized crime groups from its origin to destination markets,” Europol said in a statement as it released its “Serious and Organized Crime Threat Assessment” report from its headquarters in The Hague.
“International drug trafficking remains the most active organized crime activity,” it said.
Around 30 percent, or 1,080, of criminal groups were involved in drug trafficking to the continent, but other crimes linked to the ongoing economic crisis and the Internet were also on the rise, Europol said. Cannabis was the most popular drug in Europe with 23 million users smoking an estimated 1,300 tons of cannabis resin and 1,200 tons of herbal cannabis every year.
Most-detailed study ever
Cocaine remained second-most popular, with an estimated 4 million users consuming 124 tons of powder every year, Europol said. The 46-page report, which Europol said was its most detailed study ever into organized crime, warned of a new breed of criminal gang on the rise, spurred on by the eurozone crisis and online activity.
‘The epitome of our new globalized society’
“These groups are no longer defined by their nationality or specialization in one area of crime but by an ability to operate on an international basis, with a business-like focus on maximizing profit and minimizing risk,” Europol’s chief Rob Wainwright said. “They are the epitome of our new globalized society.”
The economic crisis has seen gangs shifting their activities from counterfeiting luxury items to daily consumer goods including food, detergents, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. It has also given rise to increased human trafficking as “growing demand for cheap products and services stimulates the expansion of a shadow economy in which migrant labor is exploited.”
Wainwright warned that cost-cutting as a result of the cash crunch, especially when it came to law enforcement, will allow organized crime groups to operate more easily and remain undetected for longer. Europol’s latest report will be sent to its 27-member states to help it define crime-fighting priorities in the coming four years, the organization said.