The Europol Organised Crime Threat Assessment (OCTA 2009) is now available online on www.europol.europa.eu
The OCTA is an assessment of current and expected trends in organised crime affecting the EU and its citizens. It is drawn up in order to enable decision-makers to prioritise and take appropriate action.
Based on analysis Europol assess that the most significant criminal sectors are drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings, illegal immigration, fraud, counterfeiting and money laundering.
Europol has identified five criminal hubs in the EU with wide-spread effects reaching beyond national borders and shaping criminal markets:
1) The North West criminal hub. It is a distribution centre for heroin, cocaine, synthetic drugs and cannabis products. Its influence extends to the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany and the Baltic and Scandinavian countries.
2) The South West criminal hub. The impact of this market is felt especially in the criminal markets of cocaine, cannabis, trafficking in human beings and illegal immigration. West and North West Africa as well as other parts of this continent have emerged as significant feeders for either the South West criminal hub or, increasingly, directly to important markets and distribution centres in the EU.
3) The North East criminal hub. This area is and will continue to be strongly influenced by feeders and transit zones located just outside the eastern EU borders (the Russian Federation/Kaliningrad, the Ukraine and Belarus). Illicit flows may be traced from the East towards the West (women for sexual exploitation, illegal immigrants, cigarettes, counterfeit goods, synthetic drugs precursors and heroin) but also vice versa (cocaine and cannabis products).
4) The Southern criminal hub. The role of this hub is central in relation to cigarette smuggling, the smuggling and distribution of counterfeit products and the production of counterfeit euro banknotes.
5) The South East criminal hub. This area is based upon its geographical location between Asia and Europe. Logistically, the importance of the Black Sea and related waterways define the hub and will create opportunities for both legal trade and organised crime. Opiates reach Europe through the Balkan routes and the Northern Black Sea route across Central Asia and Russia. The significance of the port of Constanta in cocaine traffic is growing, and cocaine seems to be increasingly arriving into the EU via Turkey and/or the Balkans. This may also be the effect of the already well-established role of West Africa as a transit zone.
A criminal hub is a conceptual entity that is generated by a combination of factors such as proximity to major destination markets, geographic location, infrastructure, types of organised crime groups and migration processes concerning key criminals or organised crime groups in general.
"The OCTA is a core product of the intelligence-led law enforcement concept and its drafting is one of Europol's top priorities. Many experts in EU Member States and other EU agencies have helped Europol produce this report. Partners from the private sector and academia have also delivered valuable input to the OCTA," says Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.
The Director also thanks Europol's partners in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Croatia, the FYROM, Israel, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, the USA and Interpol for their co-operation.
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