Czech Republic
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    Profile

    Czech Republic

    Capital

    Prague

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 250,680.50 million

    Income group

    High income

    Population

    10,671,870

    Area

    78,870 km²

    Geography type

    Landlocked

    4.63

    Criminality score

    112th of 193 countries

    21st of 44 countries in Europe

    12th of 17 countries in Central & Eastern Europe

    Criminal market

    4.75

    Human trafficking

    5.00

    Human smuggling

    5.00

    Arms trafficking

    4.50

    Flora crimes

    3.00

    Fauna crimes

    5.50

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    3.00

    Heroin trade

    4.50

    Cocaine trade

    4.50

    Cannabis trade

    6.00

    Synthetic drug trade

    6.50

    Criminal actors

    4.50

    Mafia-style groups

    3.00

    Criminal networks

    5.00

    State-embedded actors

    5.50

    Foreign actors

    4.50

    6.25

    Resilience score

    34th of 193 countries

    23rd of 44 countries in Europe

    1st of 17 countries in Central & Eastern Europe

    Political leadership and governance

    6.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.50

    International cooperation

    7.00

    National policies and laws

    6.50

    Judicial system and detention

    6.50

    Law enforcement

    7.00

    Territorial integrity

    7.00

    Anti-money laundering

    6.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    6.00

    Victim and witness support

    5.50

    Prevention

    6.00

    Non-state actors

    6.00

    6.25 4.50 4.75 6.25 4.50 4.75

    6.25

    Resilience score

    34th of 193 countries

    23rd of 44 countries in Europe

    1st of 17 countries in Central & Eastern Europe

    Political leadership and governance

    6.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.50

    International cooperation

    7.00

    National policies and laws

    6.50

    Judicial system and detention

    6.50

    Law enforcement

    7.00

    Territorial integrity

    7.00

    Anti-money laundering

    6.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    6.00

    Victim and witness support

    5.50

    Prevention

    6.00

    Non-state actors

    6.00

    Analysis

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    People

    Czech nationals are most commonly trafficked to English-speaking European countries, such as the UK and Ireland, domestically within the country and, to a lesser extent, to Asia and to other European countries. Marginalized communities, homeless people with disabilities and migrants on short-term visas are the most vulnerable to human trafficking. Women are forced into prostitution and into ‘advantageous’ marriages to non-Europeans. The Czech Republic is a hub for pornographic production and many victims of human trafficking are exploited in the industry. Women are often forced to work in massage parlours, nail salons, casinos, etc. Men are usually forced into demanding physical labour. Domestic crime networks and foreign criminal actors operate in the human-trafficking market. It is common for offenders to recruit victims through employment agencies or deceptive private, unregistered labour agencies, which are run by locals, often with a foreign connection.

    As part of the Central European migration corridor, the Czech Republic has been identified as a significant transfer zone for migrants being smuggled to Western European countries. Human smuggling in the Czech Republic is facilitated by crime networks and foreign actors. In the early nineties, Vietnamese criminal groups were suspected of smuggling people between the Czech Republic and Germany. The largest groups at the time were the Vuong Van Vu’s gang and the Khac Dan’s group. Although there is no indication of whether these continue to function, evidence suggests that people, including children, are trafficked from Vietnam to the UK through the Czech Republic. Allegedly, lost or stolen documents are forged in the country and sold to foreign nationals.

    Trade

    The Czech Republic is largely a country of origin and a transit point for arms trafficking. Illicit firearms are reactivated and converted. Most of the non-lethal weapons are sourced from the Czech Republic or other countries with lax gun laws and are then sold elsewhere in Europe, where they are converted to fire live ammunition. Organized-criminal groups as well as individual citizens are involved in arms trafficking, the latter often unknowingly. Information suggests that old Czech military equipment is resold to conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East. Although legal, some exports have ended up in violation of arms embargoes – such as the sale of arms to foreign companies that redistribute weapons to conflict zones. Czech companies are allegedly used as proxies to bypass sanctions, including continued deliveries to Azerbaijan and Syria. The illicit arms market in the country is facilitated by an increasingly diverse range of foreign criminal actors, though Czechs continue to comprise a plurality of those actors. Criminal offenders from the Vietnamese diaspora in the country are another prominent actor on the market.

    Environment

    While there are some instances of illegal logging in the Czech Republic, it does not appear to be significant. By extension, neither is the illegal flora market. However, observers have noted that the country has been used as a point of entry and transit point for Myanmar teak imported via Slovenia, which was subsequently funnelled to the Netherlands. Conversely, the country arguably has one of the largest illegal fauna markets in Europe. It hosts a significant market for bear parts and is a central point for post-mortem poaching, where CITES-protected species are imported from Poland and Slovakia, for instance, processed for traditional Chinese medicine and trafficked to Asia. It is highly likely that these practices are facilitated by criminal actors from the Vietnamese diaspora in the country. Vietnamese groups are involved in trafficking animal products from Africa to Vietnam. Live animals have been smuggled into the Czech Republic as well.

    In addition, the country is known for oil smuggling and oil-related fraud. Crime groups avoid VAT and excise duties by exporting oil and then smuggling it back into the Czech Republic. Mis-invoicing and the dilution of fuel with other substances — producing sub-standard fuel — is common. Similarly, fraud and mis-invoicing occur in the coal business. Employees of coal-extraction companies illegally sell to companies at extremely discounted rates without company approval. Allegedly, networks involved in the non-renewable resources crime market are connected to state-embedded actors and in some instances foreign criminal actors with political influence.

    Drugs

    Heroin appears to be among the least-popular substances in the Czech Republic, which positions the country more as a transit point in the trade of the drug. For the most part, foreign criminal actors are involved in smuggling heroin into the Czech Republic — predominately from Albania and Kosovo. In recent years, however, heroin flows have shifted from the Balkan route to the South Caucasus route, with heroin from Iran passing through Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to Ukraine, Moldova and then through central Europe, including the Czech Republic. Indications point to criminal proceeds generated from the heroin trade being laundered in the country through chains of casinos. Although cocaine is not the most-prevalent substance in the Czech Republic, the market is on the rise. Reportedly, the ’Ndrangheta as well Nigerian and Balkan organized-crime groups are involved in trafficking cocaine into the country, importing the drug primarily from Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.

    Cannabis is the most prevalent drug in the Czech Republic. To satisfy the demand, cannabis is produced locally or smuggled from Slovakia and Hungary. Czech nationals and Vietnamese criminal groups are involved in the distribution and have allegedly established ties to ‘grow shops’. Reports indicate that certain quantities of cannabis are trafficked from the Czech Republic to other European countries, such as Germany. The Czech Republic is thought to be the largest producer of methamphetamine in Europe. The majority of labs are found in western Bohemia, close to the German borders – a strategic location for export to Western Europe. Although production sites are small and controlled by independent actors, a recent shift has been observed of larger groups producing on a larger scale. Again, Czech nationals and Vietnamese criminal groups have been linked to the production and distribution of methamphetamine, but groups from the Western Balkans and Bulgaria are active in the market in the country as well. MDMA, also known as ecstasy and Molly, is imported into the country from abroad, primarily from the Netherlands, as are other synthetic drugs, including precursors, which are produced in China and trafficked into the Czech Republic.

    Criminal Actors

    Apart from some reports of corruption, there is no evidence that the Czech state is purposefully allowing or facilitating any criminal markets. However, accounts exist of money laundering, corruption and the misdirection of funds. Recently, security forces have turned their attention from foreign criminal actors operating in the Czech Republic to political corruption and financial crime, which might indicate an increased influence of state-embedded actors. Nevertheless, foreign criminal actors remain heavily involved in organized crime in the Czech Republic. Along with Vietnamese criminal groups, which dominate fauna and arms trafficking, as well as cannabis and methamphetamine production and distribution, reports indicate that criminal groups from Russia, Kosovo, Albania, Italy and Armenia operate in the country. Foreign nationals are also involved in human smuggling and trafficking, with the nationality of the victims of human trafficking often coinciding with that of the perpetrators.

    ’Loose’ networks function in the country and are reportedly involved in different sectors of organized crime. These networks are mainly prevalent in the cannabis- and synthetic-drug markets, as well as the fauna markets (involving domestically raised fauna), arms trade, non-renewable resource crimes and possibly human smuggling. Conversely, there is no official or credible evidence that domestic mafia-style groups operate in the country.

    Leadership and governance

    The government has taken a public anti-corruption and anti-immigrant stance. Corruption perception levels in the Czech Republic are comparably low and there have been instances of money laundering and corruption by government officials. There is an anti-corruption unit within the police force, as well as an advisory group – the Anti-Corruption Committee — which works on drafting and passing corruption-related legislative reforms. Access to information in the country is another issue, with the country’s right to information framework being rather poor and creating an ambiguous and difficult-to-navigate system.

    The Czech Republic is party to most international treaties and conventions pertaining to organized crime, including the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its three protocols. It is party to the European Convention on Extradition and has a bilateral agreement on extradition with the US. In line with the country’s international commitments to anti-organized crime, the Czech Republic’s legislative framework adequately accounts for organized-crime threats. Notably however, punishment for drug-related offences is considered comparably lax. Although drug trafficking is illegal in the Czech Republic, drug use is not deemed a criminal offence regardless of the drug type. In addition, the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes has been legalized as has been the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal supply.

    Criminal justice and security

    The judiciary is strong and independent, although political influence in high-profile cases has been problematic in the past. Allegedly, there is a moderate risk of corruption in the judicial system; bribes for favourable rulings have been recorded. In light of that, GRECO (the Group of States against Corruption) has called for the Czech Republic to expedite ongoing reforms to combat corruption among prosecutors and judges more effectively. Czech prisons are reportedly overcrowded and instances of drug trade in penitentiary institutions have been registered. There is a specific anti-organized-crime unit in the Czech Republic — the National Centre against Organized Crime — an anti-drug unit and a unit for police intelligence gathering. Risk of corruption within the police force is moderate. As the the Czech Republic’s geography makes it vulnerable to trafficking flows, the country has been used to facilitate human smuggling. As a result, border-protection efforts have been stepped up in light of the 2015 migrant crisis.

    Economic and financial environment

    Reportedly, the country has made great progress in anti-money laundering through legislative reforms and increased efforts in pursuing investigations, but a need remains for law-enforcement agencies to adopt a more proactive stance on the matter. Nevertheless, the country’s anti-money-laundering framework is sound and the country is assessed as highly resilient to money laundering and terrorist financing. Despite this, some evidence suggests that organized crime has penetrated the legal economy, using businesses as fronts for illegal operations.

    Civil society and social protection

    Victim- and witness-support measures are in place, provided by state institutions and NGOs that are sponsored by the government and provide programmes to assist migrants, victims of trafficking and drug users. Witness protection is covered, with the government providing relocation, new identities, physical security, etc. There is legislation that sets out the rights of victims of crime. However, the national crime-prevention strategy is not organized-crime specific. While NGOs are funded by the government, the anti-migrant sentiment in the country has conditioned some budget cuts that could affect organizations working with migrant groups. Concerns for media freedom have been expressed. The media environment has significantly deteriorated since 2014 as political influences, as well as threats against journalists, persist. Media ownership is another recognizable issue as oligarchs have been acquiring outlets to push their agenda.

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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.