Organised crime has never been so dangerous in Europe. Thus, criminal networks are increasingly expanding their activities with the help of the Internet. This conclusion of Europol is contained in a report presented in Lisbon. It is an analysis that is made every four years on ‘the level of threat of serious and organised crime’. The report of this year was presented in Lisbon by, among others, the Portuguese Minister of Justice Francisca van Dunem. Portugal is now the rotating President of the European Union.
Europol has analysed thousands of crimes and organised crime “develops and spreads worrying.” A striking part of the expansion of criminal activities is the Internet. In almost every crime, the Internet plays a role, and networks or gangs communicate with encrypted messages.
Activities undermine the economy, institutions and society as a whole. There are also criminal networks that have “moved” all their activities to the Internet. Europol is also concerned about the crisis and the lockdowns caused by the current pandemic and which gangs like to take advantage of. As is often in crime, “obstacles quickly become opportunities.”
The largest sector in organised crime has remained, as expected, drug crime. Nearly 40% of criminal networks are involved in this. Also, trafficking in human beings and the exploitation of smuggled migrants, online fraud and crime to steal money or property are important activities of organised crime.
They are very often shielded with a legal façade. Approximately 80% of networks use legal constructions to stand out and 60% are guilty of corruption. Also, violence is increasingly being used in the EU. Gangs use firearms and explosives more often in public spaces.
The proceeds of the criminal activities must be laundered. And professional money launderers have built up an underground network and their own financial system, which deals billions and undermines the European economy.