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Organized crime on the rise in Germany

Tom Bristow · 2 Oct 2014, 09:18

Published: 02 Oct 2014 09:18 GMT+02:00

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The annual report into organized crime, presented in Berlin on Wednesday by interior minister Thomas de Maizière, showed a 7.2 percent increase last year in the number of investigations into organized crime.

Police identified 9,155 suspected gang members, up from 7,973 last year, and brought 580 cases, an increase from 568 in 2012.

De Maizière said: "Many crimes in Germany are committed by gangs. Behind the offenders are often professional set-ups which we can only tackle with similar investigation methods to the organized criminals."

"These gangs are operating in an increasingly professional and global way. The criminals come from all over the world.”

The interior minister added police in Germany had found organized criminals from 100 different countries.

Alongside their more traditional fields of drug smuggling, gangs are also increasingly turning their attention to burglary, car theft and fraud, the report said.

Jörg Ziercke, president of the Federal Criminal Police, said many gangs were dominated by foreigners but 40 percent of suspected members were German.

Foreign gangs

Of the foreign gang members, ten percent were Turkish and another ten percent Lithuanian.

But the activity of Turkish gangs in Germany decreased last year, according to police, with investigations falling by a quarter.

Eleven charges were brought in 2013 against the Italian mafia compared to eight in 2012.

Of those, six were against member of the ‘Ndrangheta, three against the der Camorra and two against the Sara Corona Unita. The mafia’s main interests were in cocaine smuggling, the report said.

Biker gangs were investigated in 32 cases compared to 26 in 2012.

Fourteen of those cases were against the Hells Angels, five against the Bandidos, four against the Gremium and four against the Mongols motorcycle clubs.

These gangs are dominated by Germans and were concerned with drug smuggling and violence.

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East European gangs also took up much of the police’s time. Legal proceedings were brought in 30 cases against Russian or Russian-speaking gangs and 825 suspects were identified.

Their main activities were burglary, tax fraud and money laundering.

Damage wreaked by the gangs stood at €720 million in 2013, the report said, including €407 million of damage to the economy. That was far less than 2012's figure of €1.1 billion.

In terms of the number of legal proceedings brought against the gangs, North Rhine-Westphalia had the highest number, with 71, followed by Bavaria (56), Lower Saxony (54) and Berlin (52).

SEE ALSO: Berlin bans Hells Angels' symbol

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Tom Bristow (tom.bristow@thelocal.com)

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