Friday, April 7, 2017

People as Commodity │ Migrant Smuggling into the EU

Europol’s Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment 2017 warns the migrant smuggling business has become a "large, profitable and sophisticated criminal market, comparable to the European drug markets", as continuing conflicts and economic pressures in Africa and the Middle East continue to act as push factors for irregular migrants traveling to the EU. Smuggling services and the trafficking of human beings generate the largest numbers of organized crime gangs and continue to generate the greatest profits among the various criminal markets, generating an estimated EUR 4.7 billion to EUR 5.7 billion at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015. More than 510,000 illegal border crossings between border-crossing points at the external border of the EU were registered in 2016, with nearly all of the irregular migrants arriving in the EU along these routes using the services offered by criminal networks at some point during their journeys. More than 5,000 international organised crime groups are currently under investigation in the EU, state the findings, with a sharp increase in the proportion of gangs involved in more than one criminal activity — at 45 per cent now compared to 33 per cent in 2013.

Roberto Saviano exposed the Neapolitan Mafia more than 10 years ago in his book ‘Gomorrah. In a recent interview he explained: "All the boats that are crossing the Mediterranean are managed by the cartels – but not by the Italian cartels like everyone thinks. The Mafia doesn’t have a say in this. They are Turkish, Libyan and Lebanese groups that have always invested in people smuggling and Europe has not the faintest idea of this dynamic. The cartels that managed the arrivals of the Syrians in Europe are all Turkish mafia and it’s the same Mafia that manages heroin from Afghanistan. IS, the Caliphate, for example, has three primary sources of profit, all from criminal activity: racketeering, petrol smuggling and art smuggling. The fourth is drugs – Captagon which is a meta-amphetamine or marijuana that IS cultivates in Albania. We choose not to have a deeper understanding of the situation and retain a superficial reading of it – that there’s a clash of civilisations, when in fact we are dealing with a clash between criminal groups."