On 16 and 17 April, Europol and the Italian Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate (Direzione Investigativa Antimafia) are hosting the first operational high-level conference Countering Strategies Against Transnational Organised Crime as part of the @ON Operational Network to counter mafia-style serious and organised crime groups in the European Union. Conference participants are high-ranking police officers from EU Member States and non-EU countries. Europol’s Deputy Executive Director, Wil van Gemert, is opening the conference and the Director General of the Italian Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate, Giuseppe Governale, and Jari Liukku, Head of Europol’s European Serious and Organised Crime Centre, are chairing the conference.
The highest risk for EU internal security
Currently, organised crime constitutes the highest risk for EU internal security. This is the result of long-term development. Over recent years, organised crime has not stopped evolving.
At the same time, results of asset tracing and confiscation are still at an extremely low level. Europol’s report ‘Does crime still pay?’ concluded that from 2012 to 2014 just 2.2% of the estimated proceeds of crime were seized or frozen and only 1.1% ultimately confiscated across the EU. Organised crime groups take advantage of this gap in law enforcement resources and continuously look for opportunities to expand their illicit operations.
To increase operational impact by dismantling increasingly poly-criminal organised crime groups, Europol is developing an agile operational support model, building on its existing experience to allow the identification of poly-criminals, High Value Targets (HVT), new criminal trends and crime hubs.
Organised crime groups in the 21st century are highly diverse, flexible and fast
Organised crime affecting the EU is highly diverse. It ranges from large ‘traditional’ groups to smaller ones and loose networks supported by individual criminals, who are hired and collaborate spontaneously. Many organised crime groups are highly flexible and display great adaptability in the speed with which they adjust their modi operandi or whole business models to changes in the environment.
Their criminal activities are increasingly complex and require a variety of skills and technical expertise. Top-level organised crime groups also use corruption to infiltrate public and private sector organisations, relying on bribery, conflicts of interest, trading in influence and collusion to facilitate their criminal activities.
The objective of the conference is to achieve advanced international operational police cooperation by exchanging information, monitoring high-level criminals and addressing international investigations.
The @ON Operational Network
The @ON Operational Network strengthens international police cooperation on mafia-style criminal groups, making it possible for Member States to request, in coordination with Europol, the deployment of specialised investigators.
The Italian Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate prepared the project and were supported by Europol and authorities from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. The main criminal groups to be addressed are mafia-style Italian organised crime groups, Eurasian and Albanian criminal networks and Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.
Within the @ON Operational Network, the ONNET project, financed by the European Commission for 24 months, aims to provide operational support with specialised investigative units in Member States and relevant third parties accredited by Europol. Investigators from the project who are specialised in this criminal phenomenon can be deployed to the Member States involved.
The project was officially launched on 1 November 2018 at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. General Governale leads the project together with the international partners of ONNET and Europol representatives.