Drug deals, arms smuggling, fraud and human trafficking: The European police authority Europol sees internal security in the EU threatened by more than 800 serious criminal networks. In their analysis “Decoding the EU’s most threatening criminal networks” the investigators provide for the first time detailed insights into the structures and procedures of the gangs – and draw a disturbing conclusion: “This is serious and organized crime omnipresent and continues to pose a major threat to the internal security of the European Union.”

Around 25,000 members belong to the 821 networks analyzed – these gangs are just the tip of the iceberg. According to the authors, only the most threatening of their kind were examined. They are said to be flexible, controlling and destructive. “They do not operate in an isolated criminal underworld, but have a direct impact on the lives of EU citizens.”

Organized serious crime invests the profits from the banned businesses in real estate, shops or restaurants, among other things. According to Europol, the greatest threat lies in this infiltration of the legal business world. The money comes primarily from the illegal drug trade, the gangs’ most lucrative business area.

With the analysis, Europol wants to better combat organized crime. “Criminals thrive on secrecy, but we’re changing that,” said agency chief Catherine De Bolle. Despite all the secrecy, the police in the EU always manage to uncover criminal networks. Using several case studies, Europol shows how professionally the gangs work, but also how unscrupulous and sometimes violent the criminals are:

Sources: Europol, news agencies DPA and AFP