Crime in Germany
Crime in Germany is combated by the German Police and other agencies.
General crime levels
In Germany's 2010 crime statistics, 5.93 million criminal acts were committed, down two percent from 2009. According to the Interior Ministry, it is the first time the figure has fallen below six million offenses since 1991 (the year after reunification), and is the lowest crime level since records began. The rate of crimes solved in 2010 was 56 percent, a record high, up from 2009's 55.6%.
Organised crime in Germany refers to the activities of various groups of crime families and organised crime syndicates. Just as in other Western European countries, Germany has seen a rise in organized crime. The general public doesn't seem to be affected by activities carried out by organized criminal groups. Organized crime groups in Germany include the following:
Die Welt reported in 2016 that Berlin and Bremen have significant problems with organised crime in the form of "Arab Families," of which seven to nine are criminally conspicuous and today "control most of organised crime." For example, the prostitutes in the Schöneberg neighbourhood are controlled by one family. Disputes are solved through mutually agreed mediators, who can include imams and heads of families.
Italian organized crime
The 'Ndrangheta, Camorra and Cosa Nostra all operate in Germany; the 'Ndrangheta has the strongest presence. There are some estimated 1200 members of the Ndrangheta active in Germany, mostly in the cocaine trade. Apart from the Ndrangheta, the Neapolitan Camorra has also infiltrated the construction industry in Germany. Furthermore, there are also five Sicilian mafia groups active in the country, but they seem to have lost power. Italian crime groups can mostly be found in the Ruhr district and in the east of Germany.
Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs
OMCG's such as Hells Angels, Bandidos, Gremium and more recently, Satudarah, Night Wolves are active throughout Germany. While not all members of motorcycle clubs are criminal, some are reputed to be well known faces in the red-light districts and in the bouncer-scene who control a large chunk of the drug trade within bars and clubs.
Albanian mafia families are active in some of the German urban centres, in particular Hamburg. They play an important role in the drug trade and the red light districts of the country. Although this is well-known to German security authorities, such as the (Bundesnachrichtendienst), they are unwilling to undertake an investigation against the Albanian criminal structures in Germany.
"Ethnic Albanians" (as the German police officially calls them), who come into Germany typically from Albania or the Republic of Macedonia or Kosovo, have created for a very short time in the last decade of the century, a very powerful criminal network, says Manfred Quedzuweit, director of the Police Department for Fighting the Organized Crime in Hamburg. "Here, it could be heard that they are even more dangerous than Cosa Nostra. Albanian "banks" in Germany are a special story. They are used for the transfer of money from Germany, which amounts to a billion of D-marks a year.
One of these banks was discovered by accident by the Düsseldorf police while checking a travel agency "Eulinda" owned by the Albanians. "We haven't found a single travel related catalogue or brochure at the agency. The computers were nonfunctional, the printer had never been used. We found that "Eulinda" was a coverup for some other business", said high criminal counselor from Düsseldorf Rainer Bruckert. "Eventually we found out that "Eulinda" had already transferred $150 million to Kosovo—for 'humanitarian purposes'", says Bruckert. "Money was being transferred by the couriers in special waist belts with multiple pockets. So, in a single one-way trip, it was possible to carry up to six million D-marks."
BND reports state that Albanian Mafia activities are thoroughly spread throughout Germany. One mafia family in Hamburg, for instance, according to BND reports, has over "300 million euros in real estate portfolios". Further, the clan has considerable ties to police, judges and prosecutors in Hamburg.
According to British criminal Colin Blaney in his autobiography 'Undesirables', Albanian criminals in Germany also frequently come to blows with British criminals who operate in the nation. Albanian people traffickers have been involved in confrontations with an English organized crime group known as the Wide Awake Firm, including an incident in which a member of the English group was stabbed through the hand.
Russian-speaking crime groups, in particular the Tambov gang are active in cities such as Düsseldorf. Especially money laundering, prostitution and extortion seem to be their activities of choice. Russian criminal activity doesn't only concern ethnic Russians but also Russian Jews which was evident with the arrest of Mikhail Rabo, a senior member of the Jewish community in Berlin and a high-ranking member of the Tambov gang. Aside from the Russian groups, Georgian, Azerbaijani and Chechen crime groups are active in Germany as well. Very often these gangs and the Russian groups are named together in one breath even when they have little to do with each other.
Another major form of Russian-speaking organized crime in Germany consists of so-called criminal Aussiedler families. Aussiedlers are ethnic Germans (also called Volga Germans) that were born in the former Soviet Union. While a lot of Aussiedlers adapted well and quickly mastered the German language, a lot of families held unto the traditional lifestyle they lived in Russia and surrounding states. This led to the formation of individual as well as clan-based groups of Aussiedlers involved in organized criminal activities such as drug trafficking, extortion, prostitution,...as well as extreme violence. Due to the large number of Aussiedlers they are seen as the major form of Russian organized crime in Germany.
The Zemun clan is active in Germany in drug trafficking and prostitution. Members are largely ethnic Serbs, some of them former soldiers, but Montenegrins and Bosniaks from the Serbian region of Sandzak are part of the ex-Yugoslavian gangs as well.
Turkish organized crime
Turkish crime groups which consist of ethnic Turks, Laz and Kurds from Turkey are active throughout Germany in extortion, weapon trafficking and drug trafficking. Often the gangs can be linked to political groups from their home country, such as the Grey Wolves for right-wing Turks and Dev Sol for left-wing Turks and Kurds.
In 2014, the annual report into organized crime, presented in Berlin by interior minister Thomas de Maizière, showed that there were 57 Turkish and 4 Kurdish gangs in Germany. According to the report, alongside their more traditional fields of drug smuggling, gangs are also increasingly turning their attention to burglary, car theft and fraud. Ten percent of Germany's gang members were reported to be Turkish and according to statistics, the activity of Turkish gangs in Germany had decreased.
In 2016, the Die Welt and Bild reported that new Turkish motorbike gang, the Osmanien Germania is growing rapidly. The Hannoversche Allgemeine newspaper claimed that the Osmanien Germania is advancing more and more into red-light districts, which increases the likelihood of a bloody territorial battle with established gangs like the The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and the The Mongols Motorcycle Club.
Middle Eastern crime clans
Middle Eastern crime clans have become a major player in the underworld of Germany since the mass emigration of large Middle Eastern families, also called Großfamilie. Especially in cities such as Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen Middle Eastern clans are highly active in the trafficking of heroin as well as being involved in the bouncer-scene. Middle Eastern crime families mostly have origins in Lebanon, Afghanistan (mainly in Hamburg) and Morocco (mostly in Frankfurt).
Middle Eastern crime clans come from different backgrounds, but the most numerous of them are the Lebanese Mhallami clans such as the Al-Zein Clan and the Miri clan among others. Lebanese clans are active in drug trafficking, including Afghan heroin, cocaine, hashish and methamphetamine, weapon trafficking, extortion, prostitution and loan sharking. The main center of Lebanese organized crime in Germany is Berlin, with other clans spread in Bremen and Essen.
Afghan criminal clans (often of Pathan background) are active in Hamburg, a city with a large Afghan population. Like the Turkish and Turkish-Kurdish as well as Albanian gangs in the city, Afghan organized crime is active in hashish and heroin trafficking, extortion and prostitution.
Moroccan organized crime groups, often of Riffian descent, on the other hand have been reported in Frankfurt. Next to Serbian mafia and Balkan gangs, Moroccan organized crime has become one of the main factors in the Frankfurt underworld active in the heroin trade as well as other criminal activities.
Vietnamese crime groups
Vietnamese groups active in human trafficking and cigarette smuggling have been reported in Germany. Chinese Triads on the other hand have been reported but don't seem to have substantial power in Germany.
Transparency International’s Global corruption barometer 2013 reveals that political parties and businesses are the most corrupt institutions in Germany. The same report also indicates that petty corruption is not as uncommon as other European countries. The survey shows that 11% of the respondents claim to have been asked to pay a bribe at one point in their life and only few of those said that they had refused to pay the bribe.
Crimes such as drug trafficking, weapon trafficking, extortion, prostitution, money laundering and contract killing are present in most less well-maintained areas of urban centres such as Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Duisburg, Cologne or Düsseldorf.
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