EU shares its best practices in combating organised crime

Piotr Bartoszek, a EUBAM Organised Crime Investigation Specialist, delivered a lecture on ‘EU best practices in fighting organised crime’ as part of the EU Study Days project.

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Piotr Bartoszek, a EUBAM Organised Crime Investigation Specialist, delivered a lecture on ‘EU best practices in fighting organised crime’ as part of the EU Study Days project. Organised crime has already flourished in Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia, breakaway regions in EaP countries. The economies of such unrecognised ‘republics’ often rely on illegal activities including the trafficking of drugs, human beings, arms, and cigarettes. This topic warrants special attention in the context of the ongoing provocations of the separatist groups in the East of Ukraine.

Bartoszek started with an explanation of what crimes can be classified as organised. He noted that all organised crime has at least the following common characteristics: has some form of discipline and control, operates on an international level, uses violence or other means of intimidation, has a commercial or business structure, is engaged in money laundering, and exerts influence on politics, the media, public administration, judicial authorities and the economy.  These activities emerge in an ineffective state that lacks rule of law, has a power vacuum, has a deteriorating economy that depends on the black market, and where people do not feel secure and protected.

The Russian mafia is a well-known example of organised crime. Along with Italian mafia families, Colombian cartels, Chinese triads and Japanese yakuza, it belongs to the “Big Five” international criminal organisations. The Russian mafia developed after the collapse of the Soviet Union and includes three million members and 8,000 groups, 200 of which operate outside Russia in 50 other countries. Bartoszek underlined that the Russian mafia mainly profits from the illegal trafficking of drugs, weapons, nuclear materials and human organs, prostitution, loan-sharking, contract killing, and extortion.

Speaking on ways of combating organised crime, Bartoszek stressed the importance of cooperation between law enforcement agencies on the national, European (EUROPOL, FRONTEX, OLAF, OSCE, Council of Europe) and international levels (INTERPOL, FATF, UN).  This cooperation includes, among other elements, information exchange, sharing equipment for communication and transportation, and sharing modern investigation techniques.

EUBAM itself is not an executive body and is only able to assist Ukrainian law enforcement agencies in combating different types of crime, including organised crime. Its specialists, coming from different EU member states, have valuable experience and knowledge to share with their Ukrainian colleagues. Among other activities, EUBAM organises special training sessions and seminars for Ukrainian border guards, customs officers and police, shares modern equipment and techniques, and assists in analysis and investigations by participating in joint investigation groups. All of this helps Ukrainian and Moldovan law enforcement agencies fight crimes committed near Transnistria, Moldova’s breakaway region.

Background information

The European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) was launched on November 30, 2005 following a request made jointly to the European Commission by the presidents of the Republic Moldova and Ukraine. It is fully funded by the European Union within the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy and Instrument and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). EUBAM is an advisory and technical body mandated to enhance the border-management capacities of its partners: the border and customs authorities and other law enforcement and state agencies of Moldova and Ukraine.