Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has called for a determined fight against organized crime in Germany. For far too long, this was “not taken seriously enough,” said the SPD politician at the fall conference of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in Wiesbaden. “We have to declare war on organized crime with determination and with all severity.” This is a threat to the state, economy, society and democracy.

The view of organized crime (OC) in this country is more influenced by film and television or clich├ęs. However, this does not do justice to reality, it downplays the crimes and mocks the victims, said Faeser, who presented a new strategy for combating organized crime. The financial damage caused by OC in Germany is estimated at 2.2 billion euros for 2021, the income generated at 1.4 billion euros.

Organized crime is also a threat to the community because of its high level of violence, emphasized Faeser. In Germany things are not as advanced as in Belgium and the Netherlands, where OC groups do not shy away from torture and murder. But: “It’s not that far away from the Federal Republic.”

“In a constitutional state, no one is above the law”

Faeser chose pithy words. Example clan crime: “It is absolutely unacceptable that criminal members of clans are isolated in their family structures and live according to their own value system outside of our constitutional state.” They should not be allowed to disregard the rule of law and the law, commit mass crimes, use violence and terrify people. All means of the rule of law should be used to counteract this. “Because in a constitutional state, nobody is above the law. And these members of the clans have to learn that – the hard way, if it has to be.”

What this “hard tour” should look like, however, remained vague. Faeser wants the BKA to draw up a nationwide picture of clan crime, combine the forces of the federal and state governments and forge an “alliance against clan crime”. Sounds good. But will that impress the perpetrators?

Cash limit of less than 10,000 euros

Faeser’s concept also envisages introducing a cash upper limit of less than 10,000 euros for purchases. For the vast majority of people, this changes practically nothing in everyday life. “But it would be a game changer in the fight against organized crime.” The intention is clear: Big criminals should no longer be allowed to pay for luxury cars, real estate and other things in cash with proceeds from illegal transactions, so they can launder the money clean. In the EU country Italy, for example, there is already a limit of 2000 euros for cash payments.

Criticism came immediately from the CDU. It is to be feared that the measures “will not go beyond the stage of mere announcement,” said Hesse’s Interior Minister Peter Beuth, who speaks for all Union-led interior ministries. Faeser was also unable to convince her Green coalition partner. “Many of the proposed measures are too vague or misplaced,” said Marcel Emmerich, chairman of the Greens in the Bundestag’s Interior Committee.

Platform to fight organized crime

Faeser’s concept also includes expanding the evaluation, analysis and investigative capacities of the Federal Criminal Police Office and creating a joint federal-state platform for combating OC. The transport and distribution channels of OC groups would have to be identified and broken up. Specialized public prosecutor’s offices would have to be expanded. The security authorities should be significantly strengthened in terms of personnel and finances, and the penalties for money laundering should be increased.

Since organized crime operates across national borders, international cooperation needs to be strengthened. The strategy paper says that targeted alliances must be formed and counteracted by criminal structures. Above all, to combat drug-related crime, international coalitions must be formed, cooperation with the South American countries expanded and, if necessary, additional police liaison officers sent there.