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Crime organizado – Relatório Europol [2004]

A Europol editou o relatório referente ao ano de 2004 sobre o crime organizado [«organized crime», OC, na terminologia inglesa].

Vêr o exto integral em

Nele efectua-se um «survey», país a país e oferecem-se conclusões. Julgamos de interesse citar o capitulo referente à situação europeia, a qual vem ali descrita, ainda que de modo sucinto, em referência a cada tipo de crime.

«The move away from single types of criminal activity (e.g. drug trafficking) to diversification into multi-crime activities (e.g. drug trafficking, commodity smuggling and illegal immigration) is a continuing trend.

The involvement of OC groups in facilitating crimes against persons, with a specific focus on facilitating illegal immigration and trafficking of human beings, as one of the most lucrative high profit – low risk crime areas, is still worth highlighting, taking into the account the social, political and economic disturbances that this form of organised crime causes in the EU.

The field of crimes against persons is multi-faceted often intrinsically linked to other OC activities. This may involve crimes that facilitate illegal immigration, such as forgery and counterfeiting of documents or identity theft, or other crimes such as drug trafficking, when migrants carry drugs as part payment for their journey. In addition, this area of crime has an ongoing and often negative impact arising from the continued (often illegal) presence

of migrants in their host countries. This crime type is already classified as a priority area for

the Member States and at EU level. This priority setting should not change.

Crimes against persons

Illegal immigration is a growing problem within the EU. The complexity of moving large numbers of immigrants across great distances requires a degree of organisation,

specialisation and sophistication that can only be met by OC groups.

To a large extent, the OC groups facilitating this type of crime can be found within the ethnic specific communities already present in the EU and its new Member States. This can be seen as an important pull factor. OC groups often co-operate with each other, particularly in moving commodities across multiple borders/states often making use of pre-existing routes and networks established by OC groups involved in drugs trafficking. The profits that can be made from facilitating illegal immigration, in comparison to the attendant costs and risks make it a business that is attractive for organised crime. Many of the countries that were known as transit countries en route to the EU are increasingly exploited by facilitating OC groups as destination countries in their own right, reflecting the eastwards spread of prosperity as the EU enlarges. The boom in Chinese illegal immigration to the EU is particularly noteworthy. On a global scale, Trafficking in Human Beings is a EUR 8.5 to EUR 12 billion per year business.

Women victims of this type of crime are, in most cases, forced into illegal prostitution and often suffer from extreme violence (rape, assault, torture and even mutilation) and extensive control by their pimps. The OC groups involved are also known to threaten the victims’ families in case their victims are not obedient. In order to help break the women’s resistance to prostitution they are disorientated by often being sold from one pimp to the other and transferred between working places. Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania), Africa (Nigeria) and Asia (China, Thailand) remain important source countries.

The majority of child pornography images and videos seized in the Member States appear to be produced in the former Soviet Union states, South Eastern Asian countries (particularly Japan) and, increasingly, South America. The proliferation of commercial pay-per-view websites is an increasing threat. The evolution of Internet payment systems provides improved anonymity for both the supplier and the customer. In 2003, enhanced international co-operation and co-ordinated actions between states has resulted in the identification and arrest of thousands of members of the online paedophile community.

Extortion cases are closely related to a wide range of crimes and can be associated with the threat of violence. Traditionally extortion is a means of territorial control. As a new development, cases of Chinese OC groups who are involved in the extortion of Chinese restaurants and casinos have been reported. Furthermore there is an increase of the extortion of large retail stores. This new development might be an indication that similar forms

of extortion also take place in other ethnic communities within the EU.

Drug traficking

Drug traficking remains the most common form of trans national organised crime in the EU. The Member States remain a major consumer market for all types

of illicit drugs. Well established OC groups in the Member States guarantee the wholesale distribution across the EU. The trend of poly-drug traficking continues. These types of consignments may be destined for different recipients in different Member States indicating an increased co-operation between OC groups involved in drug traficking. The cocaine supply is still dominated by Colombian OC groups who have their networks established in Europe,

however OC groups within the EU are also in direct contact with suppliers in South America and the Caribbean. It is estimated that each year approximately 250 tonnes

of cocaine are transported to the EU by sea. EU Law enforcement agencies seized almost 90 tonnes of cocaine in 2003.

On a global level, illicit poppy cultivation declined by 6 per cent in 2003 to 169,000 ha, equivalent to a potential heroin production of 480 tonnes of which between 60 and 100 tonnes is thought to be destined for the EU. In 2003, only 14 tonnes of heroin were seized by law

enforcement in the EU but this is the highest quantity ever. Some 90 per cent of heroin on the market originates from South West Asia. Extensive commercial trade between Asia and Europe and a good infrastructure of land, sea and air connections provide ample opportunity for the trafficking of heroin to Europe. Turkish OC groups still dominate the heroin market are involved in all aspects of the criminal business from the poppy fields in South West Asia to the markets in Europe, although the involvement of Albanian OC groups in increasing. A close co-operation between these two groups is developing. Most of the 50 to 70 synthetic drugs production sites

that were dismantled in the EU during 2003 were located in The Netherlands and Belgium. It appears that couriers are now aware that flights arriving directly from The Netherlands and Belgium will be subject to closer scrutiny and therefore choose to travel by an indirect

route. In apparent confirmation of this Germany reports increased trafficking of Dutch ecstasy destined for the US and Australia. Investigations in Member States revealed a growing

number of synthetic drug production sites in Estonia (especially for the Finnish market), Serbia, Poland and Germany. There is also an increased involvement in synthetic drug production of Turkish, Moroccan and Chinese OC groups. Chinese OC groups are of particular interest as, in the past, they have been mainly responsible for the smuggling and distribution of precursor chemicals. Advanced production methodology, the use of sophisticated equipment and the involvement of skilled specialists have resulted in an ever increasing production efficiency and capacity. The production process, from chemical synthesis to the end product of packaging,

now invariably takes place in separate locations, occasionally even in different countries. This division of tasks reduces the risks for OC groups of an inclusive production network being dismantled when one site is being discovered by law enforcement.

Morocco remains the principle source for cannabis resin (hashish) for the EU. Albania, Pakistan and Afghanistan are also important source countries of cannabis resin. This type of drug remains the most commonly used drug in the EU. Herbal cannabis (marihuana) is supplied to the Member States from Colombia, Jamaica, South Africa and Nigeria. Albania has developed into an important source country for this type of drug, specifically for the Greek and Italian market. In 2003, approximately 900 tonnes of cannabis resin and 52 tonnes of herbal cannabis were seized by law enforcement in the EU. In France the number of incidents involving the illegal trafficking of anabolic and doping substances more than doubled from 65 in 2002 to 136 in 2003. A large part of these substances are discovered in mail and express freight. Ephedrine is especially imported from Pakistan often after being ordered on the Internet. Other substances required by users are stanozolol, clenbuterol and testosterone. Sweden also experienced an increase in the seizure of doping preparations with the Baltic States, Thailand, Greece and Spain being the main suppliers.

Financial crime and other crimes against property

It has been reported that possible money laundering activities by means of money transfers through the Cash Deposit System (CDS) are increasing. Accountholders are often straw men and forged bank cards are used to withdraw the money all of which further increases anonymity. Those Member States reporting on money laundering all noticed an increase in suspicious money transfers and money laundering cases with money transfers, land and real estate purchases still being the most common modus operandi. Skimming, which is the copying of data encoded within the magnetic strip of debit cards, and hacking, which involves the electronically breaking in to databases which contain credit card data are two main categories of payment card fraud. Thirteen Member States are closely working together to fight this type of organised crime.

The quality of counterfeit euro banknotes is continuously improving because of the sophisticated printing facilities and the recruitment of professionals with considerable printing skills. The vast majority of counterfeit euro banknotes are produced in Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland, Albania, Turkey and Kosovo. In 2003, a total of more than 570,000 euro notes were seized by law enforcement and banking systems in the EU with an estimated value of around EUR 30.000,000. The price of a counterfeit bank note is estimated at approximately 8 per cent of its face value. The price can increase to up to 35-40 per cent once the bank notes reach their final distributor whose aim is to introduce the forged money into the market place in exchange for real money or goods.

Organised robberies, burglaries and theft Several Member States noticed a significant increase in organised robberies, burglaries and theft by a number of different OC groups originating from Eastern Europe and former Yugoslavia.

Crimes such as ram raids or armed robberies against jewellers’ shops, breaking into ATMs, burglaries of shops selling hi-tech equipment or stealing personal belongings from tourists by a form of deception are often committed by OC groups originating from these countries. In Eastern Europe, Portugal, Spain and North Africa there is a willingness to purchase stolen construction site machinery. This concerns mainly (mini) excavators, backhoe loaders, compressors, fork lift trucks and loaders. These objects are stolen from construction sites in the EU and transported on stolen platform lorries.

Other commodity traficking

Spain reports the growing number of vehicles stolen in car-jacking cases (obtaining the keys to the vehicle by threatening with violence) and home-jacking cases (obtaining the key to the vehicle by breaking into a house). The reason for using this modus operandi is the improved security systems now fitted in high value vehicles. Especially Bulgarian, Russian and Romanian OC groups are mentioned in this respect.

Germany and Austria remain important transit countries for stolen vehicles being transported towards Eastern Europe while Greece is the route for stolen vehicles destined for Eastern Europe, Middle East and Asia. Tobacco smuggling used to be a form of fraud almost exclusively confined to Italy and, to a lesser extent, Spain but this is no longer seems to be the case. Since the abolition of intra-community frontiers tobacco smuggling has grown rapidly throughout the EU, particularly in the UK, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Germany (where it covers 90 per cent of all revenue and customs offences) even though Italy remains the crossroads for the illegal tobacco trade because of its geographical position in the heart of the Mediterranean. A significant branch of tobacco smuggling is the counterfeiting of well known tobacco brands. In 2003, two factories producing fake tobacco products were discovered in the EU, both equipped with efficient Russian machines. OC groups choose mainly to export cigarettes brands preferred by UK customers because of the price of a packet of cigarettes is so high there. The Nordic countries are important destination countries

for alcohol smuggling. OC groups involved in this type of crime mainly originate from Sweden, Norway, Poland, Russia and the Baltic States who have strong links to former Yugoslavian OC groups. The alcohol smuggled originates, in many cases, from Spain, Italy and Portugal.

Cases of illicit fire-arms trafficking investigated in the EU continue to show the involvement of former Yugoslavian OC groups. The Netherlands also reported the involvement of suspects originating from the UK, the US and Turkey as key players within OC groups. Fire-arms originating from Croatia are made in legal and illegal armoury work shops and fire-arms trafficked from the Balkan region are often stolen from military warehouses.».

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