The Organized Crime Index | ENACT
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Germany
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    Profile

    Germany

    Capital

    Berlin

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 4,259,930.00 million

    Income group

    High income

    Population

    83,196,078

    Area

    357,590 km²

    Geography type

    Coastal

    GINI Index

    31.7

    5.330.43

    Criminality score

    80th of 193 countries 15

    14th of 44 countries in Europe1

    3rd of 11 countries in Western Europe-1

    Criminal markets

    5.470.67

    An assessment of the value, prevalence and non-monetary impacts of a specific crime type.

    Human trafficking

    6.000.50

    Illicit activity involving coercion, deception, abduction or fraud for the purpose of exploitation, regardless of the victim’s consent.

    Human smuggling

    7.000.00

    Activities by an organized crime group involving the illegal entry, transit or residence of migrants for a financial or material benefit.

    Extortion & protection racketeering

    5.50 n/a

    Crimes linked to exerting control over a territory/market including as a mediator and/or requesting a benefit in exchange for protection.

    Arms trafficking

    6.000.00

    The sale, acquisition, movement, and diversion of arms, their parts and ammunition from legal to illegal commerce and/or across borders.

    Trade in counterfeit goods

    5.50 n/a

    The production, transport, storage and sale of goods that are fraudulently mislabeled or fraudulent imitations of registered brands.

    Illicit trade in excisable goods

    4.50 n/a

    The illicit transport, handling and sale of excise consumer goods despite a ban or outside a legal market. Excludes oil and counterfeits.

    Flora crimes

    2.501.00

    The illicit trade and possession of species covered by CITES convention, and other species protected under national law.

    Fauna crimes

    4.000.50

    The poaching, illicit trade in and possession of species covered by CITES and other species protected by national law. Includes IUU fishing.

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    3.000.50

    The illicit extraction, smuggling, mingling, bunkering or mining of natural resources and the illicit trade of such commodities.

    Heroin trade

    4.500.00

    The production, distribution and sale of heroin. Consumption of the drug is considered in determining the reach of the criminal market.

    Cocaine trade

    7.000.50

    The production, distribution and sale of cocaine and its derivatives. Consumption is considered in determining the reach of the market.

    Cannabis trade

    6.001.00

    The illicit cultivation, distribution and sale of cannabis oil, resin, herb or leaves. Consumption is used to determine the market's reach.

    Synthetic drug trade

    6.500.50

    The production, distribution and sale of synthetic drugs. Consumption is considered in determining the reach of the market.

    Cyber-dependent crimes

    6.50 n/a

    Organized crimes that rely solely on using information communications technology with the aim of obtaining a monetary/material benefit.

    Financial crimes

    7.50 n/a

    Organized crime that results in a monetary loss via financial fraud, embezzlement, misuse of funds, tax evasion and abusive tax avoidance.

    Criminal actors

    5.200.20

    An assessment of the impact and influence of a specific criminal actor type on society.

    Mafia-style groups

    5.000.00

    Clearly defined organized crime groups that usually have a known name, defined leadership, territorial control and identifiable membership.

    Criminal networks

    6.500.00

    Loose networks of criminal associates engaging in criminal activities who fail to meet the defining characteristics of mafia-style groups.

    State-embedded actors

    2.000.00

    Criminal actors that are embedded in, and act from within, the state’s apparatus.

    Foreign actors

    7.000.50

    State and/or non-state criminal actors operating outside their home country. Includes foreign nationals and diaspora groups.

    Private sector actors

    5.50 n/a

    Profit-seeking individuals/entities who own/control a part of the legal economy free from the state, that collaborate with criminal actors.

    7.50-0.17

    Resilience score

    13th of 193 countries 0

    10th of 44 countries in Europe-1

    4th of 11 countries in Western Europe0

    Political leadership & governance

    6.50-0.50

    The State's role in responding to organized crime and its effectiveness. Strong political leadership/governance suggests higher resilience.

    Government transparency and accountability

    7.00-0.50

    The degree to which states have put oversight mechanisms in place to ensure against state collusion in illicit activities.

    International cooperation

    8.000.00

    A country's supranational structures and processes of interaction, policy making and concrete implementation to respond to organized crime.

    National policies and laws

    8.000.00

    A state's legal action and structures put in place to respond to organized crime.

    Judicial system and detention

    8.000.50

    Refers to a state’s judiciary’s power to effectively and independently enforce judgments on organized crime-related cases.

    Law enforcement

    7.500.00

    The state’s ability to investigate, gather intelligence, protect and enforce adherence to its rules and procedures against organized crime.

    Territorial integrity

    8.50-0.50

    The degree to which states are able to control their physical and cyber territory and infrastructure against organized criminal activities.

    Anti-money laundering

    6.00-0.50

    A state’s ability to implement measures to combat money laundering and other related threats to the integrity of its financial system.

    Economic regulatory capacity

    7.000.00

    The ability to control/manage the economy and regulate transactions (national and international) for trade to thrive within the rule of law.

    Victim and witness support

    8.000.00

    Assistance provided to victims of various forms of organized crime, including initiatives such as witness protection programs.

    Prevention

    8.000.00

    Refers to the existence of strategies, measures, resource allocation, programmes and processes that are aimed to inhibit organized crime.

    Non-state actors

    7.50-0.50

    The degree non-state actors are allowed to engage in OC responses and their roles in supporting State efforts/ as watchdogs to governments.

    7.50 5.20 5.47 7.50 5.20 5.47

    7.50-0.17

    Resilience score

    13th of 193 countries 0

    10th of 44 countries in Europe-1

    4th of 11 countries in Western Europe0

    Political leadership & governance

    6.50-0.50

    The State's role in responding to organized crime and its effectiveness. Strong political leadership/governance suggests higher resilience.

    Government transparency and accountability

    7.00-0.50

    The degree to which states have put oversight mechanisms in place to ensure against state collusion in illicit activities.

    International cooperation

    8.000.00

    A country's supranational structures and processes of interaction, policy making and concrete implementation to respond to organized crime.

    National policies and laws

    8.000.00

    A state's legal action and structures put in place to respond to organized crime.

    Judicial system and detention

    8.000.50

    Refers to a state’s judiciary’s power to effectively and independently enforce judgments on organized crime-related cases.

    Law enforcement

    7.500.00

    The state’s ability to investigate, gather intelligence, protect and enforce adherence to its rules and procedures against organized crime.

    Territorial integrity

    8.50-0.50

    The degree to which states are able to control their physical and cyber territory and infrastructure against organized criminal activities.

    Anti-money laundering

    6.00-0.50

    A state’s ability to implement measures to combat money laundering and other related threats to the integrity of its financial system.

    Economic regulatory capacity

    7.000.00

    The ability to control/manage the economy and regulate transactions (national and international) for trade to thrive within the rule of law.

    Victim and witness support

    8.000.00

    Assistance provided to victims of various forms of organized crime, including initiatives such as witness protection programs.

    Prevention

    8.000.00

    Refers to the existence of strategies, measures, resource allocation, programmes and processes that are aimed to inhibit organized crime.

    Non-state actors

    7.50-0.50

    The degree non-state actors are allowed to engage in OC responses and their roles in supporting State efforts/ as watchdogs to governments.

    Analysis

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    People

    Germany continues to be primarily a destination country for human trafficking, especially sex trafficking, which constitutes the majority share of the human trafficking market in the country. Both German nationals and foreigners are being exploited in sex trafficking. Organized criminal networks are often behind forced sex work, with families and groups also involved. In Germany, labour exploitation is also a significant problem in the construction, care, catering, and cleaning sectors. The country’s human trafficking market is characterized by a high degree of diversity, including various criminal structures and suspects from different countries of origin, including Germany. Victims and perpetrators of trafficking for organized forced begging, shoplifting and pickpocketing are reported to be mostly foreign nationals. Reports have emerged of Ukrainian women being targeted by human traffickers upon arrival in Germany. The impact of legalizing sex work on the state's ability to combat illegal sexual exploitation and human trafficking is hotly debated.

    Germany is a major destination for human smuggling, particularly along the central and eastern Mediterranean routes. The market is highly fragmented but transnationally organized. Smuggling for the purpose of unlawful employment, mainly in the low-wage sector, has increased in recent years, and victims are targeted by professional smugglers in their home countries. Smuggled individuals are typically hidden in cars, vans, or trucks, although air travel is also used by human smugglers. The effectiveness of state responses is constrained by the dispersed occurrence of the crime in Germany. In general, human smuggling is a highly politicized topic in Germany and often overlaps with discussions about immigration, xenophobia, right-wing political extremism and violent extremism.

    Cases of extortion and protection racketeering have been reported in Germany, although they are not prevalent crimes. Firearms are often used in these activities, and a significant proportion of suspects are non-German. The extent of protection racketeering in the country is difficult to estimate, but transnational organized crime groups have been found to be extorting German businesses, particularly in the food service industry.

    Trade

    Germany serves both as a destination and transit country for smuggled weapons. Handguns and converted firearms are the most frequently used types of weapons in violent crimes. Gas guns are the most commonly seized firearms at customs points. The Western Balkans are the primary source of arms, ammunition, and explosives trafficked into Germany. Customs have recorded an increase in the number of weapons, ammunition, and explosives seized. The illicit trade in firearms in Germany involves a diverse range of actors, including some criminal gangs and organized smuggling networks. Firearms and explosives are mainly brought into Germany by land in small shipments to avoid detection by law enforcement. Additionally, firearms are frequently stolen from private firearm owners, retailers, law enforcement, and armed services. The dark web has also become a significant means of arms trafficking.

    Counterfeit goods continue to be a significant issue in Germany, with German customs seizing thousands of counterfeit items at borders. Apparel, accessories, and jewellery are the most commonly counterfeited items. However, counterfeit pharmaceutical products and food have also been seized. The country serves not only as a destination but also as a transit point for counterfeit goods, with shipments arriving from China and Turkey and then being distributed through various channels.

    The illicit trade of excise goods, including alcohol and cigarettes, is another problem in the country. Smugglers evade excise duties, causing significant tax losses. Cigarettes are the most prominent type of excise good that is smuggled or confiscated. South East Asian street vendors are particularly active in Berlin, selling untaxed cigarettes and operating without using violence to avoid attracting attention.

    Environment

    The illegal timber trade is becoming a concern in Germany, with major ports and airports facilitating the importation of timber from around the world. Although Germany appears to enforce the EU timber regulations reasonably well, detecting the origin of illegal timber can be challenging, as organized crime groups in source countries collaborate with corrupt officials and traders. Other forms of flora crimes are also on the rise in Germany, with transnational criminal networks increasingly smuggling large quantities of protected plant species, rare plants and supplements made from rare plants from Southeast Asia and Latin America.

    More importantly, Germany is a transit and destination country for trafficked wildlife fauna, with international criminal networks being the primary organizers of this crime. Although Germany is not the primary destination country for high-value protected fauna products, it appears to be an essential transit hub for illegally traded goods from Western and Central African countries to East and Southeast Asia. The illegal trade often includes ivory, pangolin scales, and live animals, with Frankfurt and Leipzig airports the primary airfreight hubs between Africa and Asia. Germany also has a persistent illicit market for reptiles and birds, with German individuals involved in smuggling and online sales of these animals. Raptor persecution is a severe issue in the country, and various international trade fairs for fauna provide a meeting point for reptile traffickers from all over Europe. Germany is also known for illegal trade in amphibians, mammals, and fish products, with major airports and harbours being used for smuggling. The legal wildlife trade market in Germany has expanded to include not only birds and mammals but increasingly fish and invertebrates.

    Germany, with its abundant natural resources, has a role in non-renewable resource crimes, particularly in gold-related crimes and tax fraud concerning diesel fuel. German companies are also involved in mining-related crimes abroad. The illegal market of non-renewable resources in Germany may have some influence on some parts of society and may accrue some value. However, Germany has a very low level of perceived corruption and a limited shadow economy, and thus the impact of such illegal activities may be limited. German authorities have carried out multiple seizures of illegal gold and silver, highlighting the country's role in gold trafficking in the region. Recently, there have been cases of gold trafficking between France, Germany, and Turkey.

    Drugs

    The heroin trade in Germany is heavily linked to other criminal markets, and organized criminal groups are involved in every stage of the trade. Motorcycle clubs, Italian mafias, Russian-Eurasian groups, and ethnic clans primarily from the Lebanese, Turkish, and Albanian diaspora all contribute to the heroin market in the country to some extent. The heroin trade has been known to fuel violent conflict between organized crime groups, and there have been reports of mafia-style groups bribing low-level officials. Germany is both a transit and destination country for heroin, with its eastern borders serving as a gateway for heroin shipped from Afghanistan through Central Asia to Western Europe. Local data suggests that injecting heroin is becoming less prevalent, with more people smoking or snorting it. Moreover, the trade in heroin has become much less prevalent in the country than the trade in other drugs, especially amphetamines and cocaine. Cocaine trafficking continues to thrive in Germany, with mafia-style groups connected to transnational networks dominating the market. Albanian groups appear to be the primary players in the trade. Seizures of cocaine have increased more than threefold compared to previous years. Although cocaine is smuggled through various routes, the container ports in Hamburg and Bremerhaven are the primary gateways. The increased cocaine production in South America and rising import volumes in Germany could lead to a rise in conflicts between competing organized criminal groups, similar to what has been seen in the Netherlands. Additionally, the greater availability of cocaine on the European drug markets has led to increased usage, as indicated by the rise in the levels of cocaine in wastewater in almost all German cities.

    Cannabis is the most widely consumed illegal drug in Germany, and the country is both a source and destination for the cannabis trade. Mafia-style groups with transnational connections appear to be the main players in the market. Germany is also a significant transit country for the distribution of cannabis in Western Europe. Most of the traded hashish comes from Morocco and is trafficked with the help of criminal groups from Albania, the Western Balkans, and the Netherlands. The German government is in the process of legalizing the acquisition of cannabis under certain circumstances. Health-related emergencies associated with cannabinoids are rare, but cannabis-related hospitalizations have increased in recent years.

    Germany plays a significant role in the synthetic drug trade, serving as both a transit and destination country. The country serves as a transit point for substances which often originate from Poland and are destined for producers in the Netherlands. Germany is also a main production centre for amphetamines and methamphetamines in the EU. The smuggling of base substances and the production of synthetic drugs for the German consumer market are closely linked to groups operating in the Netherlands, where illegal labs are becoming more common. Germany, particularly Eastern Germany, is also an important destination market for synthetic drugs produced in the Netherlands and crystal meth produced in the Czech Republic. Precursors for new psychoactive substances often come from China, are transported to various European countries for further processing, and sold mainly via online shops. Based on the levels of illicit drugs and their metabolites found in wastewater, Germany, alongside the Netherlands and Belgium, has some of the highest mass loads of MDMA (Ecstasy).

    Cyber Crimes

    In recent years, cybercrime incidents in Germany have increased. ’Crime-as-a-service’, where loose and organic criminal networks offer criminal activities as a service to others, remains a central aspect of criminal markets in the cyber-realm, with Germany being a popular target for ransomware attacks. In the past years, Germany registered a state of emergency after a cyber-attack and additional cases of public administration targeted by ransom or malware. Cyber-attacks by criminal networks or state-controlled groups affect German society in many areas and their material impact could be high, especially if losses related to these attacks, such as loss of sales at companies, are included. In the area of critical infrastructure, the risk of damage and the possibility of cyber-warfare are significant.

    Financial Crimes

    Financial crimes have been prevalent in Germany in recent years, with tax fraud investigations leading to millions of euros in fines. The Pandora Papers scandal increased scrutiny of tax fraud and prompted calls for the prohibition of offshore companies by federal law. Other corporate fraud scandals saw high-ranking officials charged with fraud, embezzlement and market manipulation. Instances of financial crimes include the illegal obtaining of energy efficiency certifications and subsidies, as well as fraudulently applying for COVID-19 state subsidies. The impact of financial crimes is significant, with the financial damage often leading to decreased trust in institutions and politics. The difficulties in tracing investments made by oligarchs after the start of Russia’s war against Ukraine highlighted gaps in the state’s capacity to control this sector.

    Criminal Actors

    Organized crime in Germany continues to have strong ties with foreign actors. Arab and Turkish clans, Italian groups, and West African groups are heavily involved in the drug trade, particularly in cocaine and marijuana, and in human trafficking. The German government has reported an increase in the number of alleged members of Italian mafia organizations, while Russian-Eurasian organized crime groups are active in property crime, drug trafficking, violent crime, and cybercrime. Although COVID-19 may have temporarily disrupted cross-border criminal activities, there is no indication of a structural decline in international activities due to the pandemic. In fact, the increased prevalence of cybercrime may even facilitate the internationalization of organized crime.

    The traditional view of crime as being dominated by informal networks of loosely connected criminals has evolved into a scenario where multiple mafia-style groups cooperate and divide tasks in different stages of the supply chain for various criminal activities. The EU has experienced an increase in ‘crime-as-a-service’. Mafia-style groups in Germany, such as outlaw motorcycle criminal groups, are involved in multiple criminal markets, including the drug trade, forced sex work, offences related to gun control, extortion, and property crime. These groups maintain a moderate level of territorial control and engage in physical violence against competing groups and other victims. Drug offences connected to such groups are the most common attracting criminal investigations, although economic crimes are also among their most important sources of income.

    The German ministry of finance has identified the real estate market and transactions involving large amounts of cash as the biggest risk areas for money-laundering in Germany, with the private sector being the primary location for the crime. Banks report tens of thousands of suspicious money laundering cases each year, but other relevant actors, such as notaries, lawyers, real estate agents, and car dealers, report almost nothing. Luxury items, real estate, and cars are major areas for laundering illicit proceeds, and the food service sector is expected to suffer increased exploitation by illegal activities from organized crime groups, such as Arabic clans, in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era.

    There is no evidence of state-embedded criminal groups or actors, with the only exception being recent reports of right-wing extremism within the police force and the military, and alleged connections of right-wing violent extremists to intelligence and law enforcement.

    Leadership and governance

    Germany's new government has made combating organized crime a priority for its security services, focusing on clan criminality and human trafficking. However, the lack of control by public authorities over certain parts of German cities, the apparent rise of right-wing extremism linked to security forces, and Germany's role as a money-laundering hot spot have raised concerns. Criminal networks and money launderers have taken advantage of the lack of state controls during the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to criticisms of political leadership and governance. Despite these problems, Germany remains one of the world's most stable countries and performs well in terms of transparency. However, there have been criticisms of regulations on financial contributions to political parties, politicians’ conflicts of interest, and transparency regarding lobbying group activities.

    Germany is a signatory party to all relevant multilateral treaties concerning organized crime and actively participates in various international organizations and initiatives aimed at combating this threat. The country has domestic legislation in place to address various forms of organized crime, including human trafficking, drug and arms trafficking, and environmental crimes. However, there is only a general ’working definition’ of organized crime which is not reflected in the criminal code and is narrowly interpreted by the judiciary. The new German government aims to combat high-level corruption by making the penal code addressing bribery of federal parliament members more effective.

    Criminal justice and security

    Germany's criminal justice system is widely regarded as highly effective, with no reports of corruption or political influence by external parties. The correctional system is also held in high regard. The new government has pledged to strengthen international judicial cooperation and make criminal trial processes more effective, faster, more modern, and practical.

    The federal criminal police, in conjunction with their state-level counterparts and state police, has the jurisdiction to conduct investigations relating to various criminal markets, including the trafficking of human beings, drugs and arms. Moreover, Germany has established a national law enforcement information and analysis cooperation grouping to facilitate data-sharing and the detection of criminal structures, including organized crime with an aim to more effectively combat terrorism and other criminal activities. Overall, law enforcement and intelligence agencies are regarded as trustworthy and effective. However, systemic challenges such as regional police understaffing, increasing drop-out rates from police academy programmes, and issues with cooperation between federal and state authorities still exist.

    Germany's porous borders are difficult to monitor and vulnerable to organized crime activities. While there is little evidence of corruption within customs or border police, the heavy flow of organized crime activities in and out of Germany through its international airports, seaports, and intra-EU/intra-Schengen borders remains a challenge to the country's territorial integrity. Moreover, increasing digitalization, Germany’s influential position in the EU and NATO, and the fragility of other risks increasingly enable cyber-attacks and pose a significant risk to Germany's security.

    Economic and financial environment

    The financial intelligence unit (FIU) in Germany has been criticized for its ineffectiveness in combating money laundering, primarily due to underfinancing and understaffing. It has been argued that Germany's wide acceptance of cash payments enables large-scale money laundering, with the EU suggesting a 'cash cap' limiting cash transactions. The new German government plans to introduce anti-money laundering reforms, which include strengthening the FIU and German customs authority and improving the transparency register. However, recent incidents involving money laundering schemes and the FIU's alleged obstruction of justice have highlighted the limitations of the current system.

    In general, legitimate private businesses are able to operate without criminal activities in all sectors of the economy. However, underestimating espionage remains an issue in Germany, as it can be challenging to detect. Alongside espionage, cyber-attacks are also a significant problem in the legal market. The only area in which illicit activities are assumed to be a major part of the market is sex work, despite voluntary sex work being legal in Germany.

    Civil society and social protection

    The German government has implemented several support programmes for victims of modern slavery and other crimes, but funding and human resources remain among the challenges in terms of victim protection. Among the programmes in place are witness protection, support for sex workers and victims of forced sex work, and an ombudsperson against corruption. The new government has decided that victims of human trafficking will receive a right of residence independent of their willingness to make a declaration with the police. Public awareness campaigns cover some organized crime areas, including the trafficking of goods, human trafficking, and the protection of flora and fauna. The national weapons register is expected to be extended and expanded to prevent weapons from getting lost in illegality.

    The involvement of civil society in fighting organized crime is limited. Conversely, independent and investigative journalism plays a significant role in exposing criminal activities, such as human trafficking, the drug trade, corruption, and white-collar crime. Despite financial pressures, the German media landscape continues to be relatively healthy and serves as an effective Fourth Estate. However, concerns remain about weak laws on access to information, declining media pluralism, and attacks on journalists by far-right extremists and populist parties.

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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.

    How to measure organized crime?

    A series of 13 discussion papers, one for each illicit market considered during the development of the Index.

    Read more on globalinitiative.net
    How to measure organized crime?

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    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.