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German Politician Seeks More State Control Over Organized Crime

A CDU (Christian Democratic Union) politician seeks to introduce more state control to decrease the growth and eliminate the criminal economy in Germany.

On May 16, Arndt Sinn, professor of International Criminal Law at the University of Osnabrück, presented his newly released study called the “Economic Power of Organized Crime”. According to the report, the illegal trade causes serious damage both to the consumers and businesses. In addition to that, the state is losing enormous sums as a result of missing taxes due to the illicit trade. Sinn stated that the highest damage was caused to the tax and the customs authorities. According to Sinn, while cigarette smuggling still represents the main field of activity of organized criminals, the trafficking of fake or counterfeit pharmacy products had seen a serious increase in the past years. The study claimed that fake potency is “more lucrative” than, for example, heroin. However, the information and the number presented by the professor is not confirmed, and the research is not complete.

According to estimates by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), organized crime globally generates approximately US $870 billion (€ 787.9 billion) annually. To see the seriousness of this number, let’s compare it with the expenditures in the federal budget (in Germany) of 2017, which amounts to 329.1 billion euros. The number of illicit goods trafficked from the external borders to the European Union alone has increased by almost 1,000 percent since 1998. In the nature of the case, however, it is a fact that the available data on the illegal trade reflects only the cases that were reported or were discovered by law enforcement authorities. According to Sinn, the unregistered illegal economic activities should have far greater proportions.

The term “organized crime” is used for groups of hierarchically organized mafia structures and criminal gangs. According to the study, in the course of digitalization, however, there are also an increasing number of individuals who, for example, offer malicious software (ransomware) used for locking down the data of consumers, businesses and the government, and the demanding ransom from the victims. The OECD research shows that a whole new generation of organized criminals is developing. Moreover, the study claims that the trading of illicit products is also a source of income for terrorists. Figures show that there are currently approximately 5,000 internationally active organized criminal groups in the European Union. In 2013, this number was only 3,600. According to the research, illegal trade is driven by high profitability, new technologies, and warlike conflicts around the world.

A CDU politician, Clemens Binninger, who was also on the podium at the presentation on May 16, proposed to intensify the state control in order to eliminate the criminal economy, especially on the postal service, and by setting up a close network between the customs and police officers. By doing this, Binninger seeks to expand state monitoring. Sinn and the CDU politician presented the numbers related to organized crime, however, they did provide information on what could have caused the major increase of such activities.

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