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Europol: Bulgaria, Romania and Albania Remain Important Source Countries of Women Trafficking
      Eastern Europe, especially Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and Albania, remain important source countries of women trafficking, reads a 2004 Europol report on organized crime in the EU.

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, points out the report. The organized crime 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 disoriented by often being sold from one pimp to the other and transferred between working places in Eastern Europe.

The counterfeit euro banknotes made by Bulgarian organized crime groups are especially distributed in France, Greece, Italy and Spain after entering the Schengen area via Austria or Germany, says the report. The banknotes are imported by small groups who return to Bulgarian immediately after making delivery. Although there is co-operation with other ethnic organized crime groups, the money couriers, middlemen and distributors are almost Bulgaria. Distributors are often recruited through newspaper advertisements and are briefed about the legislations of the country they are sent out to and trained how to react to the police in case of an arrest.

The Bulgarian organized crime croups in the EU member states were specialized in women trafficking for sexual exploitation and different activities connected with forgery of EU banknotes and cheatings with debit cards.

The Bulgarian crime groups involved in human trafficking are highly mobile using the existing BG communities in Europe. Separate members of the groups were travelling through the EU borders as well as victims of the trafficking. They have been resold several times between different crime groups, according to Europol report.

Ethnic Albanian organized crime groups have established themselves in many Member States. The criminal activities are controlled by organized crime groups in Albania, Kosovo, and FYROM. They continue to extend their role from facilitators for other groups to achieving full control in certain crime areas, such as drugs trafficking, illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings in specific regions, says the report.
Ethnic Albanian organized crime groups are hierarchical, disciplined and based on exclusive group membership, according to the report of Europol. The significance of ethnic Albanian groups in the overall EU context is further increasing. Italy and Greece consider ethnic Albanians to be the largest non-indigenous group of organized crime in their countries. Albanian organized crime groups are considered an increasing threat to the Member States, points out the document.

Romanian organized criminal groups have expanded their criminal activities in the EU, reads a 2004 Europol report on EU organized crime. The Romanian groups have specialized in trafficking in women and minors for sexual exploitation, forgery of documents, extortion, debit card fraud and property crime. Their role in drug trafficking appears to be taking place in Northern Italy and Spain although Romania itself is an important transit country for Turkish and Albanian drug traffickers, says the report.

The number of property crimes involving Romanian organized groups, including pick-pocketing and distraction robberies, is increasing. Romanian organized criminal groups appear to be very mobile when committing property crimes. They often visit a location for just one day to commit their crimes and move on to another location the next day. This ‘crime tourism’ is done because it is difficult to tackle by law enforcement, emphasizes the document.

Romanian organized criminal groups often operate in small cells. Despite their apparent autonomous activities these cells are often part of a larger hierarchical group. These are pyramidal organizations with strict centralized control and a clear division of tasks, says the report of Europol.

It is difficult to establish the line between Russian groups and organized crime groups originating from other countries of the former Soviet Union, reads the report. Only a few of these groups have a homogenous ethnic base such as Chechens, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Georgian and Ingush. Russian organized groups have an impact on all the EU Member States being involved in virtually every type of organized crime. The report points out that a large number of these groups are based in the Baltic States. They are involved in a wide range of crime types and are constantly looking for new criminal business opportunities such as the increasing engagement in cigarette smuggling to the EU, mainly to the Nordic countries and the UK, adds the report.
Former Yugoslavian organized crime groups are involved in many types of property crimes such as burglaries, ram-raids and armed robberies. Members of these groups are taken in small vans to certain locations in Member States to commit burglaries.

Members of former Yugoslavian organized crime groups have also been involved in motor vehicle crime in Spain (mainly Croatians and Bosnians) and The Netherlands (mainly Serbs), emphasizes the report. These groups have also been involved in the transport of alcohol to the Nordic countries and the transport of chemical drugs from the Netherlands for their local market using Austria and Slovenia as transit countries.
The report of Europol adds that there is little information about the structure of former Yugoslavian organized crime groups. They appear to work as a horizontal cluster of different independent groups, says the report.
Source: FOCUS News Agency

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