Algeria
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    Profile

    Algeria

    Capital

    Algiers

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 171,091.29 million

    Income group

    Lower middle income

    Population

    43,053,054

    Area

    2,381,741 km²

    Geography type

    Coastal

    4.52

    Criminality score

    119th of 193 countries

    37th of 54 countries in Africa

    4th of 6 countries in North Africa

    Criminal market

    4.65

    Human trafficking

    4.50

    Human smuggling

    6.50

    Arms trafficking

    5.00

    Flora crimes

    2.00

    Fauna crimes

    4.50

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    6.50

    Heroin trade

    2.00

    Cocaine trade

    3.50

    Cannabis trade

    6.50

    Synthetic drug trade

    5.50

    Criminal actors

    4.38

    Mafia-style groups

    1.00

    Criminal networks

    5.00

    State-embedded actors

    7.00

    Foreign actors

    4.50

    4.63

    Resilience score

    104th of 193 countries

    15th of 54 countries in Africa

    2nd of 6 countries in North Africa

    Political leadership and governance

    4.50

    Government transparency and accountability

    4.00

    International cooperation

    5.00

    National policies and laws

    6.00

    Judicial system and detention

    4.00

    Law enforcement

    6.00

    Territorial integrity

    6.50

    Anti-money laundering

    4.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    4.50

    Victim and witness support

    3.00

    Prevention

    4.00

    Non-state actors

    3.50

    4.63 4.38 4.65 4.63 4.38 4.65

    4.63

    Resilience score

    104th of 193 countries

    15th of 54 countries in Africa

    2nd of 6 countries in North Africa

    Political leadership and governance

    4.50

    Government transparency and accountability

    4.00

    International cooperation

    5.00

    National policies and laws

    6.00

    Judicial system and detention

    4.00

    Law enforcement

    6.00

    Territorial integrity

    6.50

    Anti-money laundering

    4.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    4.50

    Victim and witness support

    3.00

    Prevention

    4.00

    Non-state actors

    3.50

    Analysis

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    People

    Human trafficking in Algeria is a highly sophisticated criminal market that emerged in southern Algeria, particularly in Tamanrasset, and has since spread to northern cities such as Algiers, Oran and Annaba, among others. There is a high degree of external involvement in the humantrafficking market, which is driven primarily by criminal networks originating in Niger, which is also the country of origin of most trafficking victims in Algeria. Algeria is a transit country for individuals travelling towards Europe, and extortion and other exploitative practices are common occurrences on migrants’ journeys. Labour standards and regulatory capacity in Algeria are poor, and therefore instances of exploitative and bonded labour are common and largely unremarked upon. Irregular migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. However, this tends to occur on an ad-hoc basis, or with local groups and businesses, rather than as a systematic form of transnational organized crime.

    Human smuggling is a dynamic, long-standing but increasingly risky market in Algeria, a country that is both a destination and a transit country for irregular migrants. Over the past two years, increasing numbers of migrants have been making the sea crossing from coastal points in Algeria towards Spain. Human-smuggling networks operate along Algeria’s southern borders.The migrant smuggling hub of Tamanrasset,in particular,is an important transit site for migrants journeying towards Morocco and Libya, with migrants crossing from Mali and Niger. Border officials are known to collaborate in the illicit market, and despite harsh rhetoric and strict enforcement measures employed by the government, including the construction of a sand berm to counter human smuggling, this environment has empowered violent and specialized networks which operate across multiple routes in central Sahara. Algeria’s securitization efforts and crackdown on human smuggling generate greater opportunities for smuggling networks as the demand to reach Algeria remains high, despite a temporary slowdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Trade

    Arms trafficking is a thriving market in southern Algeria due to the outflows from neighbouring Mali and Libya. Seizures of large stocks of small and light weapons are a regular occurrence. The Salvador pass in Niger, at the convergence with Libya and Algeria, is situated at a strategic corridor for traffickers and is considered a primary transit point. The mostimportant corridor for arms trafficking connects the city of Djanet in the southeast to Bordj Baji Mokhtar in the southwest. To a lesser extent, a network of arms trafficking also exists between Algeria and Tunisia. Although this market is smaller thanthat of Niger and Libya, the presence of terrorist groups around Mount Chaambi at the Tunisia–Algeria border, where heavy armed conflict has occurred in the past years, is significant.

    Environment

    Although illegal logging of cedar and fir by local people is common in neighbouring countries, there is no evidence to suggest the presence of organized criminal activity pertaining to flora in Algeria. However, thousands of animal species in the country are in danger of extinction as a result of poaching and trafficking, including gazelles, the bearded mouflon and a number of rare bird species, in particular goldfinches. Actors from various Gulf countries play an important role in the fauna crimes market in Algeria, in both the poaching and the purchasing of animal trophies.

    The most pervasive environmental criminal market, however, is that of non-renewable resources crimes. Algeria experiences high levels of oil smuggling, the value of which is estimated at more than a billion dollars per year. Algeria is an oil-rich country where fuel is extensively subsidized. As a consequence, due to large price differentials, massive quantities of oil are diverted to neighbouring countries, primarily Tunisia, but also Morocco, Mali, Niger and Mauritania, through local smuggling networks. While oil-smuggling activity in the country is geographically limited, the net loss for Algerian people overall is immense, in part due to the widespread cronyism that culminates in substantial losses to the public purse.In recent times, gold trafficking has become increasingly prevalent in the far south of Algeria. However, with mobility restrictions and the closure of borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this activity experienced a temporary slowdown.

    Drugs

    Algeria’s most pervasive drug market is cannabis. While cannabis cultivation in Algeria is low, criminal networks involved in the cannabis trade have longstanding regional connections with their Moroccan counterparts, and Algeria is a major destination and transit market for Moroccan cannabis.The supply chain is composed of a limited number of major players, hundreds of wholesalers across the country and thousands of smaller trafficking networks commercializing cannabis to the endconsumer.Furthermore, over the past two years, authorities have seized increasingly sizeable quantities of cannabis at the country’s southern borders.

    While less pervasive than the cannabis trade, Algeria’s synthetic-drug market is growing at a fast pace. Algeria has turned, fairly rapidly, from an origin point for smuggled synthetics to a destination country and is considered the largest market in North Africa. Tramadol and codeine smuggling dominate the market, but Subutex also plays an important role.Although the illicit trade was originally limited to urban hubs such as Algiers and Oran, the market has expanded across most of the country over the past two years. Conversely, the cocaine and heroin markets only have a limited influence in Algeria, although there is evidence to suggest that both markets may be experiencing an uptick in activity in recent times. For cocaine in particular, Algeria is emerging as a new and significant trafficking hub linking Latin American cocaine production sites with drug markets in Europe.

    Criminal Actors

    Criminal networks are among the most active, geographically widespread, and economically dominant criminal actors in Algeria. Criminal networks with significant transnational linkages are involved in long-standing hashish-trafficking activities, the smuggling of basic products(particularlyalong the southern border of the country), the illicit trafficking of oil, human smuggling, the illicit gold trade and arms trafficking. These transnational networks are highly active in Algeria’s northern city hubs, such as Algiers, Annaba and Oran, but alsoin cities such as Marseille and Paris.Historically, foreign actors played a role more akin to ‘interfaces’ or ‘intermediaries’ rather than immediate controllers, exerting moderate to substantial degrees of economic and financial power in domestic criminal markets. However, there is increasing evidence of foreign actors who are physically present in the country, particularly in the south, engaged in illegal gold extraction. While not necessarily exerting full control of these markets, foreign criminal actors, including Nigerien, Malian and Libyan nationals, take part in four major markets: food and oil trafficking, human smuggling and trafficking, gold trafficking, and arms trafficking. Such actors are concentrated and often established in Tamanrasset and the borderlands of Timiaouine and In Guezzam.

    Despite the prevalence of criminal networks, both domestic and foreign, the most pervasive criminal actor type in Algeria is the state-embedded actor. Corruption in Algeria remains so pervasive that high-level criminal actors have been increasingly linked to state institutions. Such actors continue to enjoy a high level of protection from the state, while high-level politicians and military elites have been associated with massive money-laundering, tax-evasion and embezzlements cases.The 2018 scandal known as ‘cocainegate’ offered a glimpse of the extent to which high-ranking officials and businessmen are connected within criminal economies.

    Leadership and governance

    Algeria is the main security power in the region and is often labelled as a stabilizing force. It maintains strong law enforcement and military leadership against transnational organized crime. The security apparatus connects the fight against organized crime and the fight against terrorism. This translates into a tough on-the-ground approach to criminal networks, with the fight against organized crime embedded in the country’s counterterrorism strategy,relying primarily on border securitization and prosecution. However, high levels of corruption, impunity and lack of transparency are significant issues in Algeria.There is little evidence to suggest that the end of the regime of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika and the transition to the new government of Abdelmadjid Tebboune has brought about any material change to levels of transparency and accountability.Indeed, the purported objectives of increasing transparency and accountability by way of the new constitution have failed to win over the protesters of the Hirak movement and significant sections of the population.

    On the whole, adequate standards and systems for international cooperation are in place. Algeria is party to all relevant international treaties and conventions pertaining to organized crime, with the exception of the Arms Trade Treaty. At the continental level, Algeria has been leading the implementation of AFRIPOL, the African Union police cooperation mechanism. However, information-sharing related to high-level tax evasion cases or common judicial trials is low, and the near complete lack of cooperation with Morocco is a serious gap, given that the shared border hosts a large variety of criminal markets.Domestically, Algeria has extremely tough and punitive laws on organized crime, including on drugs, human and arms trafficking and human smuggling. However, there is no clear political vision on how to effectively tackle the challenges of organized crime, nor a consolidated strategy to combat the rise of criminal economies. New legislation adopted in September 2020 ostensibly with the purpose of tackling bandes de quartiers (gangs) is viewed by many as a way of strengthening the judicial arsenal against groups acting as important driving forces behind the Hirak movement.

    Criminal justice and security

    Maintaining territorial integrity is one of the highest priorities of the Algerian government, as evidenced by its heavy emphasis on law enforcement and militarization responses to organized crime, in particular at the country’s southern borders. Law enforcement personnel are well trained, and the police’s special investigation crime unit has strong operational capacities.Nevertheless, the vastness of Algerian territory is such that full control of the country’s borders is impossible, in particular in light of the contiguity with conflict-torn states to the south and east. Security forces’ tolerance for informal cross-border activities has steadily decreased in recent times, particular in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,which has adversely affected borderland communities. The judicial system in Algeria is extremely weak in comparison to the country’s law-enforcement apparatus. There are high levels of government interference in the judiciary and recent evidence suggests a significantly limited ability on the part of the judicial system to bring high-level organized crime figures to trial. Furthermore, physical and other forms of abuse are widespread within the detention system.

    Economic and financial environment

    The state has a strong grip on the economy in Algeria, which is supported by significant protectionist policies. However, the country is on the verge of an economic crisis, largely as a result of falling oil prices. The seemingly politically motivated arrests of many business people in Bouteflika’s inner circle have further exacerbated the economic volatility in Algeria. The government has shown limited capacity to exert control over the informal economy, which accounts for more than half of the overall economy. Excessive bureaucracy makes engaging in the formal economy difficult, which, when combined with a general lack of avenues toward prosperity for most Algerians, presents optimal opportunities for informal practices, illicit trade and numerous black markets. With regard to the anti-money laundering framework, while established systems of reporting through financial intelligence units exist, they have been ineffective in blocking capital flight.There is little evidence to suggest any of the relevant institutions have sought to tackle the primary means of laundering money in Algeria– the property market.In December 2020, the government did, however, establish a committee tasked with developing a national anti-money laundering strategy, among other objectives.

    Civil society and social protection

    Civil society and social protection measures are extremely weak in Algeria. Accessing effective treatment and support is very difficult for people who use drugs, and the country meets only a small fraction of the necessary measures to help victims exit modern slavery. Although there is a national anti-trafficking plan in place, its implementation is slow, largely due to the fact that there are no public mechanisms to screen, identify and refer potential victims to protection services. With regard to the prevention of organized crime, measures are in place but fall considerably short of the necessary standards. The majority of organized-crime prevention measures fall under the remit of law enforcement agencies in the country, focusing primarily on drug-related crimes.

    While civil society in Algeria is dynamic and vocal, it is at the mercy of an authoritarian regime. The state has undermined civil-society groups with severe restrictions in terms of funding and capacity. The legal space in which such groups can operate is shrinking. The authorities often use vague legislation such as that pertaining to ‘demoralizing the army’ and ‘undermining national unity’ to repress independent media, and crackdowns on the freedom of the press have only escalated since the birth of the Hirak movement in February 2019.At the end of 2020 there were about 60 political prisoners in detention, several of whom are journalists.

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    The criminal markets score is represented by the pyramid base size and the criminal actors score is represented by the pyramid height, on a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The resilience score is represented by the panel height, which can be identified by the side of the panel.

    This report was funded in part by a grant from the United States Department of State.

    ENACT is funded by the European Union and implemented by the Institute for Security Studies and INTERPOL, in affiliation with the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.

    The opinions, findings and conclusions stated herein are those of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.