Organised crime groups increasingly use violence in its work

A new report by Europol warns that organised crime groups are increasingly employing violence in pursuit of their criminal objectives, and such violence represents a threat to public security in the EU.

Based on an analysis of contributions made by Member States to Europol in recent years, there has been a rise in the number of violent incidents associated with serious and organised crime. Furthermore, the analysis points to an increasing willingness from criminal groups to resort to lethal violence.  


In this report, Europol highlights the factors underpinning this trend and the challenges it poses to law enforcement and develops a set of recommendations.


The involvement in criminal gangs of younger and inexperienced hitmen and the accessibility of firearms and explosives, together with violent incidents often perpetrated in crowded public places and broad daylight are considerable threats to public security.  


Large ports in the EU exploited by criminal groups as transit points and the streets of the surrounding cities are particularly vulnerable to violence.

 International organised crime groups have established footholds in and around these ports, where the corruption and intimidation of workers critical to the unloading and storage of illicit commodities, and the competition for distribution are taking place. 


The rise in violence in illicit markets can be tied to growing competition among criminal networks. Most drug-related fatal and serious violence have been reported in cocaine and cannabis markets, which have recently attracted new players. 

The report also points to an increased use of serious violence by organised crime groups to carry out their criminal activities. These violent crimes do not exclusively affect criminals; they target non-criminals including victims of trafficking in human beings, violent robberies, law enforcement officers, lawyers, witnesses and informants, investigative journalists, or uncooperative dock workers.


Jari Liukku, Head of Europol’s European Serious Organised Crime Centre said: ‘while organised crime groups have always been associated with violence, Europol is observing a spike in serious violent acts.’

‘This trend is unlikely to decrease in the short term as violence will thrive from organised crime opening to diversity and competition, becoming more digitalised and expanding its global reach. The cooperation at regional and international level is of utmost importance to tackle this threat posed by organised crime.’

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