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THE PRINCIPAL NETWORKS - Civil dimension

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THE PRINCIPAL NETWORKS

56. According to EUROPOL, although criminal organisations having their origins in EU member States still have a major role in the criminal activities of their respective countries, many outside groups – in certain cases very violent – have steadily established themselves in drug trafficking, illegal immigration and human trafficking. Broadly speaking, these groups are the following:


For trafficking in narcotics:

  • the Colombians, specialising in dealing in cocaine from their country, who are no longer organised in extensive homogeneous cartels but, as your Rapporteur stated above, in smaller structures that readily adapt to their environment.

For trafficking in narcotics, migrants and people:


  • the Chinese, who concern themselves mainly with dealing in heroin and with illegal immigration, and although they co-operate with other ethnic groups prefer to operate in closed circuit.


  • the Nigerians, in dealing in drugs (unspecified) and prostitution, whom EUROPOL describe as "professionally sophisticated", combining tribal customs and ultra-modern technology in their methods.


  • the North Africans, mainly dealing in cannabis, illegal immigration and human trafficking (to the south coast of Spain, directly or via Ceuta and Melilla; to Sicily or the Italian mainland, via Tunisia or sometimes Malta), referred to by EUROPOL as "well organised".


  • the Turks, in "multi-drug trafficking", illegal immigration and prostitution, whose structures overall are somewhat homogeneous and quite hierarchical.

And more particularly:


  • the Russians, who are advancing in all areas (see report by Volker Kröning, Russian Federation: Assessment of the internal situation [AV 175 CC/DG (02) 3]), including dealing in Ecstasy and other amphetamines.

Early in 2001 the INTERPOL analytical database, Millennium Project, was reporting some 1,000 Russian gangs operating at the international level – and from 8,000 to 10,000 groups in the territory of the former Soviet Union. Each of these groups is said to have from 50 to 1,000 members and to break up and re-form as politico-economic circumstances dictate, making it extremely difficult to track the rings.


  • lastly the Albanians, who are also to be found in all areas.

At the beginning of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia the Albanians, described by INTERPOL as "hybrid organisations" often involved in criminal activities with political ramifications, were the Italian mafia’s "runners" for dealing in narcotics in the region. Since then they have partly replaced the Turks and the Kurds in heroin dealing – they control nearly 70% of the market in Switzerland, Austria and Germany and 80% in the Scandinavian countries – and are now said to be competing with the Sicilian underworld. Their clans (fares) are of patriarchal type and follow the old rules of rural life (code of honour, meetings attended by few people), which makes their networks difficult to infiltrate. Moreover they have the advantage of a safe refuge in their own country and an extensive diaspora.


B

.

DRUG TRAFFICKING, AN OVERVIEW


a. General comments


57. In April 2000 the last report of the Observatoire géopolitique des drogues was stating that the Schengen area had become "the most important drug market on the planet". In the same year the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA, Lisbon) revealed that "over 40 million people in the EU [had] used marijuana or hashish. On average one 15- to 16-year-old adolescent in five and at least one in four in the 15-34 age range [had] tried cannabis".
58. Although the experts now agree that cannabis is still the most widely consumed drug in Europe, they also refer to an increase in the consumption of synthetic drugs and cocaine. In fact synthetic drugs (amphetamines, ecstasy) are in second place - according to the 2002 report by the International Office for Drug Control (UNODC, United Nations Vienna), 60% of world ecstasy consumption is in Europe – and are gaining ground among the young, who now also seem to be making use of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Cocaine, long used in very well-defined circles, is now affecting social networks that are not interconnected, evidence of a substantial level of spread - all the more disturbing because there is no substitute, like methadone or buprenorphine in the case of heroin.
59. By way of example, in France in 2002 ecstasy was tried by 1.1% of persons aged 15 to 75, but with a rate of 1.9% in the 15-34 age group and of 5% among boys of 17 (2.9% among girls of the same age). With regard to cocaine, the rate of experimentation stood at 1.9% among persons aged 15 to 75, but was 3% in the 15-34 age group and 2.2% among boys of 17 (0.9% among girls of the same age). These trends were confirmed by French customs officials, who stated in March 2003 when their annual report was submitted that seizures of ecstasy had increased by 47.2% relative to 2001, and seizures of amphetamines by 238.3%; the quantities of cocaine seized reached "an unprecedented level", with an increase of 35.4% in seizures. It is noteworthy that seizures of crack (smokable basic crystallised cocaine) rose by 408.9% (see Tendances récentes et nouvelles drogues, 2002 report by the Observatoire français des drogues et des toxicomanies; and Forte hausse des saisies de drogues dures en 2002, Le Monde, 24 March 2003).
60. Spain acts as the main point of entry for hashish coming from Morocco, where cannabis crops in the Rif Mountains and beyond are said to cover from 100,000 to 120,000 hectares. The European Union estimates that the cannabis fields on this massif bring in some 2.8 billion euros annually, that they double every three to five years and that the 2003 crop might even cover 250,000 hectares (see "The Rif invaded by the kif", The Guardian, published in Courrier International, No. 658, 12-18 June 2003).
61. As for heroin, 80% of that consumed in the EU comes from Afghanistan. As stated above, in 2002 that country regained its rank as the leading world supplier of opium, with some 3,400 tonnes harvested, the result of the sowings of poppies from October to December 2001. Opium and heroin take different routes, inter alia:

  • the "Southern route", which passes either through Iran or Pakistan to the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean ports, towards European countries or the southern shore of the Mediterranean;


  • the "Balkan route" (largely controlled by Albanian clans), through Iran and the Middle East, Turkey and Bulgaria then either through the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* and Albania or through Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic;


  • lastly the "Northern route" (the former Silk Road, along which about 50% of Afghan heroin is said to pass), through the Central Asian Republics (in particular Tajikistan and Kazakhstan), then either through Russia, Ukraine and Poland/the Baltic countries and thence to the countries of the EU, or through the Caucasus and Turkey.

62. Turkey is on the principal transit route for drugs originating in Afghanistan (morphine base, opium, heroin) and on the line followed by traffickers for the shipment from Europe to the East of large quantities of chemical precursors (particularly acetic anhydride) and synthetic drugs. Turkey has been hit very hard by this traffic, and is determined to fight it. Although your Rapporteur welcomes this determination, more substantial international co-operation and assistance are necessary in order to stamp it out.


b. Central and East European countries (CEEC)


63. As regards central and east European countries (CEEC), a study published in October 2002 by the EMCDDA refers to a "situation that is the exact opposite of that which existed only five or seven years ago". Although then they were generally seen only as countries through which the drugs passed (see Poland, the through route for all trafficking), the CEEC "have today become an obvious target in respect of consumption of [all narcotics]". As in the EU, cannabis is the drug with the highest consumption rate, but heroin has also found a new outlet there. Amphetamines and Ecstasy also, which are either produced locally (mainly in Poland and the Czech Republic – see pervitin, piko in Czech, which is now also found in Germany) or exported from the markets in the European Union (Netherlands, Belgium - see above).
64. In Bulgaria, Slovenia and the Czech Republic the number using intravenous injection or dependent on hard drugs is the same as in the member-countries: 0.5%, i.e. five persons in a thousand. It rises to 1% in the three Baltic States, which are among those most affected by the phenomenon. Because it came on the scene relatively recently, heroin has not yet caused the same damage to health (AIDS, hepatitis B) as in the EU. However, the situation might deteriorate because of the dangerous practices seen there (such as sharing syringes). In this connection there has been a "rapid and alarming increase" in HIV among drug addicts in Lithuania and Estonia.
65. Although for the most part the CEEC have ratified the three United Nations conventions in drug control (the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 Vienna Convention against the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) and although the strategies that they have adopted endeavour to ensure consistency between national policies and policies approved at European Union level, the capacity to implement these measures effectively – measures which it has taken the member States 20 years to shape, without the work necessarily being completed – would be limited and the resources allocated (including resources at the level of police services) insufficient. "It is therefore essential, the EMCDDA stresses, for the countries concerned to continue to strengthen their policies, institutions and machinery for co-ordination and to provide the necessary resources to achieve this". And for the Monitoring Centre to request that preventive measures are applied, such as distribution of syringes and condoms, or the development of AIDS tests and substitution treatments accessible to the population (see 2002 Annual Report on the drug situation in CEEC candidates).

c. The Western Balkans


66. As regards the western Balkan countries that aim to join the EU (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania) they should, according to the General Affairs Council on 28 January 2003, carry out wideranging reforms beforehand and fight the scourges of organised crime and corruption. This request was reiterated by the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council at its meetings on 27 and 28 February, during which the Greek presidency expressed the wish that EUROPOL should "have a role in the region" and that a global and multidisciplinary strategy should be applied there. Calling for the preparation of organised crime "road maps", Germany, Austria and Belgium stated that priority should be given to the campaign against the traffic in narcotics.
67. It is noteworthy that the Thessaloniki European Council (19-20 June 2003) approved the "Thessaloniki Agenda for the Western Balkans" (which examines ways of strengthening the stabilisation and association policy pursued by the Union in respect of the region), and repeated its determination to support the integration prospects of these countries.

d. The member States


68. As for the member States, despite setting up joint "anti-drug stations" (see, for example, the Tournai Franco-Belgian station) and exchanges of policemen and judges, despite the efforts made since the Schengen area was established to improve co-ordination and the sharing of information among competent units (through, inter alia, two specialised multimedia networks called EMMI and Linguanet), the lack of an integrated approach to the drug problem weighs upon and inhibits the campaign against cross-border criminal networks.
69. This point was also raised in November 2002 by the European Union Council, which took the view that "future European actions against drugs should be focused, clear in its profile and based upon proactivity, continuity, coherence and efficiency. An integrated and multidisciplinary approach must be applied at the European level aiming at reducing the demand, hindering the supply, preventing the abuse, treating the abusers and punishing the criminals involved in illegal activities" (see CORDROGUE 80, Draft note from the Council to the European Council in connection with the mid-term evaluation of the European Union strategy on drugs [2000-2004], 12451/3/02 Rev. 3, 20 November 2002).
70. To this may be added the issue of decriminalisation and legalisation, on which there is at present no consensus within the Union. Prohibition of drugs makes them scarce and expensive, giving rise to a highly profitable trade and a high crime rate. Some European countries (Spain, Italy, Luxembourg and Portugal) criticised by the International Office for Drug Control (IODC) have decriminalised the growing and possession of cannabis for personal use. The IODC also accuses the Netherlands – and Switzerland (which your Rapporteur will bring in here, as a neighbour of the EU) – of contravening the UN Conventions by allowing the sale of cannabis in "coffee shops" and partly legalising possession. In addition, the Office denounces the Hague decision to authorise the use of this drug for medical purposes, and is worried about the downgrading by Great Britain.
71. Over and above this reality, it seems to your Rapporteur that the only hope of opposing the development of trafficking intended for Europe – as in the rest of the world – lies in combining several forms of action: attacking the economic, social and psychological causes of drug use; reducing North-South inequalities; and finally by not giving up the struggle against large-scale trafficking by economic and strategic interests which seek to control client States and allies who are themselves directly implicated in drug trafficking or which close their eyes to their citizens’ activities.

  1. HUMAN TRAFFICKING, AN OUTLINE


72. In Europe, the past ten years have seen a substantial rise in human trafficking. Factors contributing to the phenomenon have been the break-up of the USSR, the war in the Balkans, East-West/North-South disparities, the difficult transition to a market economy and the collapse of points of reference in the CEEC, poverty, unemployment and demographic pressure in the countries of the South, etc. Other factors may explain its extent, including the continuing demand for cheap and readily exploitable labour in many sectors of European economies (agriculture, construction, manufacturing industries, services – see the report by Jean-Michel Boucheron, SouthNorth migratory movements [AU 278 GSM (01) 5 rev. 1], which cites the case of Spain, where the harvesting of tomatoes, garlic and strawberries is no longer possible without illegals).


a. Illegal immigration


73. Illegal immigration seems to be well on the way to being the basic occupation of criminal networks in Western Europe. This activity is said to guarantee them a stable and regular source of income with little risk, enabling them to form additional rings for more lucrative and more dangerous illicit activities (narcotics, prostitution).

74. According to EUROPOL, the great majority of the networks involved in trafficking in migrants are from outside (see above). The Albanians still have a predominant role in it, even if the traffic in immigrants between Vlora, the large port in southern Albania, and the Italian coast of Bari has practically ceased since September 2002 (a co-ordinated police operation between the two countries has made it possible to arrest the smugglers and burn their speedboats). Some 200,000 illegals are also said to pass through Belarus each year, a trend which should become increasingly apparent with the accession of the Baltic countries, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic to the EU in 2004.


75. Your Rapporteur wishes to stress here that the Tampere European Council (October 1999, the first European Council devoted exclusively to the issues of "justice and home affairs") has made possible a better assessment of the challenges facing Europe in terms of immigration – including illegal immigration. For the first time in its history the EU has acquired a corpus of principles regarding migratory movements, based on the following four priorities: 1) taking account of the situation in the countries of origin in the Union’s immigration policy (the necessity to contribute to the economic takeoff of these countries in order to keep their people at home); 2) the integration of foreigners resident in Europe; 3) combating illegal immigration rings as a form of organised crime; 4) the importance of a common European asylum system – which formed the basis for the launch in January 2003 of the Eurodac system for comparing the fingerprints of asylum seekers (and of persons in breach of the law arrested in the territory of a member State).
76. Although the Tampere Council made agreement on broad principles possible, the implementation of this policy is becoming twice as difficult. The problems highlighted by the experts include: the practical difficulty of maintaining effective external border control, having regard to the length of the new European external border and the uncertain situation in several States regarding the control of immigration; the unrealistic nature of the project to impose, by way of EU regulations and directives, uniform immigration legislation on States which have differing approaches in this area, often for deep-rooted historical reasons; and the approach, more theoretical than concrete, of the European Commission, which seems relatively unreceptive to the sociological and political constraints of States (a tendency which shows itself in the multiplicity of performance indicators and action plans too far out of touch with differences in culture and national political realities), to say nothing of the framework of decision set up by the Amsterdam Treaty (October 1997) and the transition to a qualified majority scheduled for 1 May 2004, which is highly likely to lead to divisions within the EU.
77. Little significant progress has been made since Tampere and the Seville European Council (June 2002). Although a certain number of operations and pilot projects aimed at combating illegal immigration on the Union’s external frontiers have been pursued since the second half of 2002 (see, for example, the "ImmPact" and "ImmPact 2" projects run by the United Kingdom in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro respectively, or again the "Ulysses", "Triton" and "Deniz" naval operations in the Mediterranean), the establishment of a real European border guard corps is coming up against the issue of cost-sharing among member States. In addition, this topic was not tackled head-on at the Thessaloniki European Council, during which the Fifteen just reaffirmed the necessity for "prompt conclusion of readmission agreements" for illegal immigrants "with … third countries of origin" and approved the creation of a common database on visas (the Visa Information System, VIS). Thus many observers take the view that no integrated frontier police force is likely to emerge in the medium term.
78. It is noteworthy that the Fifteen refused to endorse the British proposal to create transit centres on the periphery of the Union (Ukraine, Romania, Croatia or Albania) to which asylum seekers would be taken and where their eligibility files would be examined. Enormous reluctance was expressed by the Germans and the Swedes, and appeals were launched to check the compatibility of such a project with Union legislation and the Geneva Convention on Refugees. With responsibility for examining the issue, between now and June 2004 the European Commission will also have to examine in depth the possibility of asylum seekers filing their applications while remaining in their regions of origin. Among the recent measures aimed at combating illegal migratory movements from the western Balkans, your Rapporteur will single out the creation of a network of national "immigration" liaison officers, which should be operational between now and the end of December 2003.
79. Paradoxically, therefore, States are turning – and with no particular concern for unity – to national solutions in an attempt to choke off illegal immigration. As stated in Chapter I, they respond to it by strengthening border checks, passing more restrictive laws on asylum and immigration and entering into bilateral readmission agreements. In France, for example, a draft law on immigration control and residence of foreigners was passed at the first reading by the National Assembly on 10 July 2003 which steps up the campaign against illegal immigration rings, tightens up conditions of entry and reception for foreigners and extends the period of administrative detention prior to the implementation of removal measures.

b. Human trafficking


80. Human trafficking is an issue of particular urgency. INTERPOL states in this connection that "the business of sexual exploitation [in Europe] has boomed", making the expression "procuring on a grand scale" a – very sad – reality (see François Loncle, "Western Europe, the procurer of women from the East", Le Monde diplomatique, November 2001). The International Organization for Migration assesses the number of prostitutes of East European origin at 300,000, and the number of women and children, purchased or exchanged, arriving in Western Europe every year at 120,000. The latter figure includes both women from the CEEC and those coming from Africa (Nigeria), Asia (including Central Asia – Osh in Kyrgyzstan is a crossroads for this traffic) and Latin America (Brazil). Some state that this number might increase rapidly, with the war in Iraq.
81. Although in the early 1990s Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary acted as "suppliers" alongside Russia and Ukraine, they have since become transit and destination points. In this they join the countries of the European Union, of course, but also Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, where the presence of foreign troops provides a substantial market and continues to make a substantial contribution to the traffic.
82. According to the IOM and EUROPOL, the principal supplier countries today are Moldova (up to 80% - many Moldovan villages do not have any more women), Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine. The networks used various routes, including:

  • the route that passes through Romania, Serbia (see the five or so "women markets" in Belgrade and the Novi-Sad trading centre), Bosnia and Herzegovina (see the Brcko Arizona market), Croatia and Austria and thence to the Czech Republic, Poland and Scandinavia, or to Germany, France and the United Kingdom;


  • the route that passes through Kosovo, Albania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (see the village of Veledze, the regional centre of prostitution) and Montenegro, then through Italy.

83. Thus of the 500,000 women who are victims of criminal networks across the world every year (see Chapter 1, B.c.), 200,000 pass through the Balkans, a situation denounced in particular at the international conference on organised crime held in London last November (see the London Declaration of 27 November 2002). Of these 200,000 women, some 80,000 are destined for the markets in the Middle East, Asia and North America. According to a study in 2002 by the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, human trafficking now brings in more than heroin trafficking.


84. The Albanian mafia has set up a real cartel on prostitution. It handles more than 65% of the trafficking in women in the Balkans; in the Schengen area it has set itself up on a permanent basis in Italy, France, Belgium and Great Britain. In France over 60% of prostitutes are foreign, 35% of them coming from the CEEC and the Balkans; in Brussels and Antwerp Albanian gangs have done battle with Turks and Kurds to take over the ‘knocking shops’; in the Soho quarter of London, the police recently estimated that these gangs controlled about 75% of prostitution – and that over 18 million euros, the fruits of this exploitation, were sent to Albania every year.
85. Although steps are taken by capitals in an attempt to curb this phenomenon (in London, for example, the authorities have improved the street lighting and re-routed the traffic in Tooting and King’s Cross to discourage the clients), they merely move the problem elsewhere and instead emphasise the embarrassment of Western countries faced with a situation on a scale that overwhelms them, the more so because this phenomenon takes advantage of disparities between national legislations and the barriers between legal proceedings, and because Europe is still divided between regulationists (for whom prostitution is a necessary evil that should be controlled – the Netherlands and Germany, where prostitution is legalised) and abolitionists (for whom prostitution is incompatible with human dignity – Sweden in particular) (see François Loncle, "Western Europe, the procurer of women from the East", Le Monde diplomatique, November 2001).
86. The European Union is aiming to reinforce the campaign against criminal rings, both with EUROPOL and with EUROJUST, the central legal co-operation network, by promoting the formation of common investigation teams. Moreover, a Framework-Decision on combating human trafficking was adopted by the JHA Council in July 2002, which is to be transposed into member States before 1 August 2004. This Framework-Decision contains a common definition of human trafficking for the purposes of exploitation at work or for sexual exploitation, and provides that the maximum custodial sentence shall not be less than eight years.
87. Following the example of Helga Conrad, the chair of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe task force on human trafficking, your Rapporteur takes the view that it is essential to tackle the causes of trafficking in women and children (destitution, discrimination, violence, etc.) in the countries of origin and to continue to develop appropriate preventive measures there (such as information campaigns aimed at increasing the awareness of potential victims, criminal law practitioners, NGOs, etc., set up as part of the European Commission’s DAPHNE programme).
88. Although the pursuit of dealers clearly seems essential (see the Special Trafficking Operations Programme, STOP, run by the United Nations civilian police in Bosnia and Herzegovina), the granting in the countries of destination of true victim status, which can both protect prostitutes and enable them to be reinstated in society, is also vital. The suitable legal handling of the phenomena connected with human trafficking is inseparable from participation by the victims in the judicial process, which involves their protection, taking responsibility for humanitarian and administrative services and their reintegration (see the draft law strengthening the campaign against forms of modern slavery adopted on 24 January 2002 by the French National Assembly, or again, in Italy, the recent law aimed at granting asylum to women who are victims of the networks, whether or not they give evidence against the traffickers).

CONCLUSION


89. In the light of the above, it is clear that organised crime cannot be fought by the traditional repressive means alone. States have to take a fresh look at their crime-fighting machinery, both on the internal and on the international scale, already overloaded by handling day-to-day crime and whose operating costs are increasing substantially in time, procedures, personnel and resources. States must seek solutions involving far-reaching changes, the aim not being simply to punish the individual but to dismantle the criminal organisation to which he belongs and to seize the profits that it has gained through its illegal activities.
90. In your Rapporteur’s opinion, such an undertaking presupposes devoting more substantial resources to the services responsible for law and order, nationally, at the European level and at the international level; giving them the resources to acquire the telecommunications equipment and technologies comparable with those used by the criminal networks; and eliminating the administrative and bureaucratic bottlenecks that may impede proper international co-operation between police forces and between legal systems.
91. This presupposes the enhancement of intelligence gathering and sharing, all the more important because the difficulties of policemen in identifying their targets are more and more acute, and because there are many cases in which the collection of data spread over several continents is the only means of curbing the activities of certain gangs.
92. More specifically, this presupposes that informal bilateral contacts between law enforcement agencies continue to be encouraged in the interests of achieving more rapid action. This presupposes the full use of EUROPOL and INTERPOL in their respective areas of activity, and consequently funding them as they should be funded; at most, INTERPOL’s annual budget (28 million dollars in 2002) is only equivalent to the price of a few vessels or aircraft used by traffickers. This implies that we should also draw on other international bodies such as the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OECD, the "Lyon Group" and the United Nations, and implement the conventions in this field that are already available (see, in particular, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime ratified by 147 States, which should be entering into force as the present report is being updated).
93. Lastly, this presupposes that we hit the networks in their "vital parts", i.e. by depriving them of those financial resources that give them the means to establish their prestige, to continue their activities and to buy and corrupt leaders, officials, businessmen and ordinary citizens.

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