Austria
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    Profile

    Austria

    Capital

    Vienna

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 445,075.39 million

    Income group

    High income

    Population

    8,879,920

    Area

    83,879 km²

    Geography type

    Landlocked

    4.04

    Criminality score

    141st of 193 countries

    31st of 44 countries in Europe

    8th of 11 countries in Western Europe

    Criminal market

    3.95

    Human trafficking

    4.50

    Human smuggling

    5.00

    Arms trafficking

    6.50

    Flora crimes

    2.00

    Fauna crimes

    2.50

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    2.00

    Heroin trade

    4.50

    Cocaine trade

    3.50

    Cannabis trade

    4.50

    Synthetic drug trade

    4.50

    Criminal actors

    4.13

    Mafia-style groups

    2.00

    Criminal networks

    4.00

    State-embedded actors

    4.00

    Foreign actors

    6.50

    7.42

    Resilience score

    18th of 193 countries

    12th of 44 countries in Europe

    6th of 11 countries in Western Europe

    Political leadership and governance

    7.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    6.50

    International cooperation

    7.00

    National policies and laws

    8.00

    Judicial system and detention

    8.00

    Law enforcement

    8.50

    Territorial integrity

    8.00

    Anti-money laundering

    6.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    7.00

    Victim and witness support

    8.00

    Prevention

    8.00

    Non-state actors

    7.00

    7.42 4.13 3.95 7.42 4.13 3.95

    7.42

    Resilience score

    18th of 193 countries

    12th of 44 countries in Europe

    6th of 11 countries in Western Europe

    Political leadership and governance

    7.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    6.50

    International cooperation

    7.00

    National policies and laws

    8.00

    Judicial system and detention

    8.00

    Law enforcement

    8.50

    Territorial integrity

    8.00

    Anti-money laundering

    6.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    7.00

    Victim and witness support

    8.00

    Prevention

    8.00

    Non-state actors

    7.00

    Analysis

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    People

    Austria is both a destination and transit country for human trafficking and human smuggling. The criminal market in human trafficking is dominated by foreign criminal actors, including eastern European and Nigerian mafias that are part of global networks. While the number of identified domestic trafficking victims in Austria has decreased, available evidence suggests that most victims of sex trafficking are young women from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Nigeria and China. Recently, a new trend has been observed, where Venezuelan nationals are getting involved in the market, both as perpetrators and as victims. Many of these victims have been lured into trafficking under the guise of more licit forms of employment opportunities. In addition to sex trafficking, there is evidence of a large, potentially expanding market for labour trafficking.

    Austria is both a destination country for human smuggling and a transit country for migrants en route to northern Europe. Both foreign and local actors operate within this criminal market, with reports indicating that Austrian nationals are recruited by transnational criminal organizations. Irregular migrants entering Austria have previously transited through Italy, travelling via the central Mediterranean route, or the Western Balkans, moving via the Balkan route.

    Trade

    Located at the cross-section of Western, Eastern and Southern Europe, Austria is a hub for arms trafficking. The Austrian criminal market for the illicit trade of firearms is relatively sizeable, and Austria is considered both a destination, transit as well as a source country for illegal firearms. Austria has one of the highest rates of registered gun ownership in Europe and is a major exporter of firearms. There is also a significant number of unregistered and illegal firearms in the country and firearms are relatively easy to obtain in Austria. Some of these illegal arms may be trafficked abroad, and illegal firearms seized in Brazil have been reported to come from Austria. At the same time, illegal arms are known to be imported from the Western Balkans, suggesting that the criminal market in Austria consists of arms of both foreign and domestic origin. The criminal market for arms trafficking in Austria is heavily linked to organized crime groups that often participate in numerous other illicit activities, such as the illicit drug and prostitution markets. In particular, Italian mafia-style groups, namely the 'Ndrangheta and Camorra, are involved in arms trafficking to, from and through Austria, but there are suggestions that Chechen, Georgian, Balkan and Turkish crime groups are also active in the trade.

    Environment

    Although environmental crimes are known to occur, markets for this in Austria are limited in scale and scope. There is evidence of small imports of illegal timber into Austria from Ukraine, Russia, Slovakia, Indonesia and in particular, Romania. On a number of occasions, Austrian timber companies have been exposed for their involvement in illegal logging operations in other countries. With regard to fauna crimes, Austria is a destination and transit country for illegal reptiles. A small number of Austrians are involved in supplying the transnational illegal reptile trade by collaborating with collectors and supplying pet markets in Austria and various connected Western European countries. The hunting of protected raptors remains problematic and there is some evidence of trade in poached mammals, birds and reptiles. Reports have indicated that crude oil has been illegally imported in Austria, but evidence for the existence of a larger non-renewable resource crimes market is negligible.

    Drugs

    Austria plays a role as a transit point in the transnational drug trade, but is predominantly a destination country for drugs such as cocaine, heroin, cannabis and various types of synthetic drugs. The most consumed and confiscated drug in the country is cannabis. Austria is mainly a destination and transit country for cannabis, with limited domestic production. A significant amount of Austria’s cannabis supply comes from the Western Balkans and Morocco. This cannabis is trafficked mostly by mafia-style groups with roots in the Balkans. In addition to imported cannabis, Austria has a supplementary supply of domestically cultivated cannabis which appears to be distributed by domestic networks. Cocaine seizures have increased in the last few years and evidence suggests that cocaine consumption rates are currently rising. Cocaine is imported from Latin America via Spain, the Netherlands and the Balkans, sometimes arriving at the Vienna International Airport. Foreign criminal groups in collaboration with domestic actors are believed to be responsible for most of the trafficking of cocaine into Austria.

    Austria is both a destination country and a transit point for heroin trafficked via the Balkan route. Foreign mafia-style groups based in the Balkans with links to various other destinations in Europe (particularly the Netherlands) and in Africa are responsible for most heroin trafficking. Synthetic drug markets in Austria are driven predominantly by domestic demand. Amphetamines and MDMA/Ecstasy consumed in Austria tend to originate in the Netherlands and Poland, whereas methamphetamines are mainly produced in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. In recent years, a number of smaller laboratories used to produce amphetamine and methamphetamine have been dismantled in Austria. However, there is no evidence that domestic production is widespread enough to cover a substantial amount of the market and domestically produced synthetic drugs only supplement foreign supplies. Unlike cannabis, cocaine and heroin, it is not clear what criminal actors are responsible for servicing the market in synthetic drugs. One reason for this is that a significant amount of trade is occurring over the darknet.

    Criminal Actors

    The Austrian criminal ecosystem is dominated by foreign actors, and many criminal markets in Austria are controlled or influenced by transnational criminal groups. Most foreign actors with a sustained presence inside Austria are pseudo-legitimate international ‘rocker’ associations, which are involved in the largest Austrian criminal markets (drug trafficking, sexual exploitation and the illicit arms trade). These include the United Tribuns, Osmanen Germania, Hells Angels and Satudarah, which have their origins in other European countries, with established ‘chapters’ in Austria. These groups are mainly formed by foreign nationals, whereas Austrian citizens carry out supplementary tasks. Behind the scenes, however, some of the country’s most prominent criminal actors are mafia-style groups of Balkan, Turkish, Arabic, Russian, Nigerian, Chinese, Chechen and Italian origins. The criminal groups from the Balkans are involved in human trafficking and smuggling, in addition to drugs and arms trafficking to Austria and northern Europe; Nigerian and Chinese mafias are involved in trafficking for sexual exploitation to Austria, as well as in the drug trade, while the Chechen mafia is involved in arms trafficking. Italian mafias such as the Camorra and the 'Ndrangheta are involved in drug trafficking, financial crimes, illegal gambling and money-laundering through the establishment of legal businesses in Austria. In addition to foreign criminal actors, small local criminal networks, seeking foreign collaboration, are active on the Austrian drug market, especially the cannabis trade. These networks are also involved in human smuggling and trafficking, as well as in the trafficking of firearms.

    Although state-embedded actors do not facilitate criminal markets on an organized basis, there have been cases of money-laundering, illicit public procurements, and corruption within the government. There is no evidence for the existence of domestic mafia-style groups in Austria.

    Leadership and governance

    The current Austrian government has shown commitment and leadership in the fight against organized crime. Levels of corruption in the country continue to be fairly low and safeguards against corruption are effective in most areas. However, recent high-level corruption cases have exposed vulnerabilities to Austria’s political integrity, and the legal and institutional anti-corruption framework has some deficiencies when it comes to access to information and enforcing integrity measures at the political level.

    The Austrian government has shown commitment to international cooperation against organized crime and is party to most relevant anti-organized crime treaties, including the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, its three protocols and the UN Convention against Corruption. It has established a Joint Operation Office within the Criminal Intelligence Service to reinforce international cooperation and intelligence exchange and is a member of a European information exchange platform to combat illegal wildlife trade. In addition to the European Convention on Extradition, Austria has extradition agreements with Switzerland and the USA. The Austrian penal code criminalizes the establishment of, and participation in, a criminal association engaged in any of the criminal markets. The penal code also includes provisions against human trafficking, human smuggling, the illegal trafficking of military weapons, nuclear and radioactive material, dangerous waste, counterfeit money or drugs as well as a range of corruption offences such as active and passive bribery, embezzlement and fraud. Additionally, Austria’s anti-organized crime legal framework contains a number of acts that provide provisions against human smuggling and drug trafficking.

    Criminal justice and security

    Austria’s judiciary is independent and efficient and criminal justice matters are handled fairly. Furthermore, within the judiciary exists a specialized anti-corruption unit, the Public Prosecutor's Office for White-Collar Crime and Corruption, which deals with financial crimes, the falsification of governmental budgets, state-embedded bribery and organized crime-related corruption cases. Prisons in Austria are of a high standard, are equipped with the necessary security infrastructure and provide a range of services aimed at rehabilitating offenders into society. Austria’s law enforcement agencies house several units specifically tasked with countering organized crime. Within the Austrian Crime Intelligence Federal Agency, the Bundeskriminalamt, a number of specialized bureaus have been established. These include a bureau against corruption, a Federal Bureau Against Organized Crime, and a bureau that specializes in human smuggling and human trafficking. While this makes for what appears to be a relatively strong framework for criminal justice, Austria’s position along major drug, arms and human trafficking routes in Europe continues to expose the country to illicit flows.

    Economic and financial environment

    Austria’s economic and regulatory environment is conducive to doing business and the Austrian economy is open and diverse. There are, however, constraints to economic opportunities with a bureaucratic process that makes starting a business time-consuming. Overall, Austria is resilient to money laundering and terrorist financing, but systemic issues remain. Austria is considered a hub for money laundering between western and eastern Europe, with money from Russia and Ukraine flowing to and through banks in Vienna. Numerous businesspeople from eastern Europe, often involved in larger criminal networks, hold bank accounts, company investments, and real estate in the country. Historically, beneficial ownership transparency has been lacking in Austria, and the government has been hesitant to introduce reforms that could limit the inflow of dirty money into the country. However, while there is still a conducive environment for illicit financial flows in Austria, recent years have seen the implementation of key reforms that create some progress in the area of fiscal transparency and make it more difficult for dirty money to infiltrate Austria.

    Civil society and social protection

    Victim support mechanisms in Austria are fairly robust by standards, particularly when it comes to providing services to victims of modern slavery. Although the state takes the lead, it is often supported by civil society - particularly in the area of human trafficking and the rehabilitation of drug users. Victim-support organizations include a variety of government-funded civil society organizations that provide victims of trafficking and smuggling with a range of services, including help in finding accommodation, employment, medical care and psychological counselling. For the most part, Austrian society considers and treats drug addiction as a health condition. There are several institutions that specialize in the medical and psychological care of people who use drugs and there is a coordination centre focusing on care, prevention and social reintegration. Numerous civil society organizations are active in drug prevention and in carrying out awareness and sensitization campaigns as well as offering psychological support. Additionally, the government and law enforcement have been adopting crime-preventive initiatives. The Bundeskriminalamt has established a Bureau for Crime Prevention Staff and has launched a series of initiatives to establish security partnerships between citizens, police and local government. Austria also takes part in the European Crime Prevention Network.

    Austria's media environment is considered free and does not seem to be affected by any restriction to freedom of expression. However, in recent years, the rise of populist politics in Austria has been associated with diminishing press freedom and accusations of extremism levelled against critical 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.