Germany
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    Profile

    Germany

    Capital

    Berlin

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 3,861,123.56 million

    Income group

    High income

    Population

    83,092,962

    Area

    357,580 km²

    Geography type

    Coastal

    4.90

    Criminality score

    95th of 193 countries

    15th of 44 countries in Europe

    2nd of 11 countries in Western Europe

    Criminal market

    4.80

    Human trafficking

    5.50

    Human smuggling

    7.00

    Arms trafficking

    6.00

    Flora crimes

    1.50

    Fauna crimes

    3.50

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    2.50

    Heroin trade

    4.50

    Cocaine trade

    6.50

    Cannabis trade

    5.00

    Synthetic drug trade

    6.00

    Criminal actors

    5.00

    Mafia-style groups

    5.00

    Criminal networks

    6.50

    State-embedded actors

    2.00

    Foreign actors

    6.50

    7.67

    Resilience score

    13th of 193 countries

    9th of 44 countries in Europe

    4th of 11 countries in Western Europe

    Political leadership and governance

    7.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    7.50

    International cooperation

    8.00

    National policies and laws

    8.00

    Judicial system and detention

    7.50

    Law enforcement

    7.50

    Territorial integrity

    9.00

    Anti-money laundering

    6.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    7.00

    Victim and witness support

    8.00

    Prevention

    8.00

    Non-state actors

    8.00

    7.67 5.00 4.80 7.67 5.00 4.80

    7.67

    Resilience score

    13th of 193 countries

    9th of 44 countries in Europe

    4th of 11 countries in Western Europe

    Political leadership and governance

    7.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    7.50

    International cooperation

    8.00

    National policies and laws

    8.00

    Judicial system and detention

    7.50

    Law enforcement

    7.50

    Territorial integrity

    9.00

    Anti-money laundering

    6.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    7.00

    Victim and witness support

    8.00

    Prevention

    8.00

    Non-state actors

    8.00

    Analysis

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    People

    Germany is primarily a destination country for transnational human trafficking, in which sexual exploitation is the primary feature. While there is a large, parallel legal market for prostitution in Germany, an estimated one in seven sex workers is a victim of trafficking. In terms of labour exploitation, Germany serves as a destination country for human trafficking, particularly in the construction sector. While there is no evidence of German citizens being trafficked abroad, they are reportedly exploited in the domestic market. 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.

    Overall, the human smuggling market in Germany appears to be transnationally organized but very fragmented, involving several different organized criminal groups consisting mainly of foreign nationals but also some German citizens. Although irregular migration flows have decreased significantly since 2015, Germany remains one of the principal destination countries in Europe, particularly along the central and eastern Mediterranean routes. The main hotspot for human smuggling is the German–Austrian border, where the secondary migration routes from Italy and Greece converge. Smuggled individuals are most commonly concealed in cars, vans and trucks, sometimes under unsafe or fatal conditions. 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.

    Trade

    Germany’s illegal arms market involves transnationally organized groups and individual actors. The transnationally organized groups involved in the market smuggle weapons, particularly from the Western Balkans, to EU countries, with Germany being a transit as well as a destination country. Meanwhile, individual actors illegally trade small numbers of stolen or legally acquired weapons. Overall, the principal source of arms, ammunition and explosives trafficked to Germany appears to be the Western Balkan region by land, taking advantage of the so-called ‘ant trade’, whereby multiple shipments of small volumes of weapons are trafficked. These eventually accumulate into a substantial stockpile of illicit weapons. More recently, growing evidence suggests that illegal weapons are trafficked from Ukraine into Germany, often for re-export to third countries. However, organized-crime groups are increasingly shifting their traditional structures and activities to the deep web and the darknet. There are also various cases of individuals or small groups engaged in the reconstruction and reactivation of legally obtainable, disarmed decorative weapons, which are then sold and mailed to various countries.

    Environment

    Germany is, to a minor extent, a destination country for specific rare plant species, such as cacti and orchids, as well as dietary supplements made from rare plants. In 2019, a German company was also found to have repeatedly and knowingly violated EU timber regulations. More importantly, Germany is considered a key transit country for illegal wildlife, such as ivory, pangolins and live animals, with Frankfurt and Leipzig airports the main airfreight hubs between Africa and Asia. Like several other Western European countries, Germany also has a long-standing illicit market for reptiles and birds. The main actors involved in flora-related crimes are collectors of rare and protected species, and tourists who illegally import souvenirs. The latter is the largest group in terms of the number of fauna crime offences and seizures, and professional and internationally organized smugglers are considered rare. Finally, the criminal market for non-renewable resources is likewise fairly limited, but German companies are involved in mining-related crimes abroad and the country plays a minor role in gold-related crimes as well as tax fraud crimes concerning diesel fuel.

    Drugs

    Germany is a destination and transit country for heroin trafficking on the Balkan and southern routes. The heroin market in Germany is interconnected with other criminal markets, such as cocaine and cannabis, and the criminal actors involved overlap. Organized criminal groups involved in heroin trafficking are transnationally organized and often connected to groups based in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, mafia-style groups are engaged in every stage of the trade, smuggling, distribution and money laundering. Although corruption is not a widespread phenomenon, there have been reports of mafia-style groups bribing low-level officials regarding the drug market. Heroin is considered to be the cause of the highest number of substance-related deaths in Germany. The most widespread drug market in Germany is the cocaine market, with the country acting as a destination and transit point for cocaine trafficking. While cocaine is smuggled to and from Germany along myriad routes, the largest proportion of cocaine enters through the port of Hamburg in ships originating from South America. There are fears that rising cocaine production in South America and rising import volumes in Germany could lead to increased conflicts between competing crime groups.

    Furthermore, Germany is a source, transit and destination country for cannabis. Although there are independent domestic producers in Germany, the market appears to be dominated by mafia-style groups connected to transnational trafficking networks. A substantial share of the cannabis intended for the Western European market is trafficked through Germany, with the help of foreign organized criminal groups. Lastly, Germany is also a transit and destination country for synthetic drugs. Germany plays a significant and growing role in connection with substances destined for producers in the Netherlands, which, in many cases, originate from Poland. Generally, the smuggling of base substances, the production and the inflow of various synthetic drugs for the German consumer market appear to be closely connected to groups and networks operating in and from the Netherlands. Based on the number of consumption-related offences, amphetamine is the most widespread drug in Germany, alongside cannabis. The methamphetamine market in particular has experienced an expansion in the eastern regions of the country in recent years.

    Criminal Actors

    Since the 1970s, Germany’s criminal markets have been dominated by informal networks of criminals, loosely connected to each other. Investigations of organized-crime groups in Germany revealed that a third of all investigated groups were dominated and/or led by German citizens, and a third of these German-led groups comprise German members entirely. The only groups that can be identified by name are outlaw motorcycle criminal groups (OMCGs). These mafia-style groups have a defined leadership. In many cities, territory relevant to criminal markets is partitioned among competing mafia-style groups, most of whom are involved in multiple criminal markets. OMCGs are reported to engage in extortion related to offering private security services to businesses, particularly in the nightlife sector. OMCGs are among the groups with the highest prevalence of physical violence, used against competing groups as well as other victims.

    Non-German citizens lead the majority of investigated organized crime groups in Germany and are involved in nearly every criminal market in the country. Often, family and ethnic ties define these groups. The trade in illegal drugs continues to be a central field of activity for certain non-German clans, primarily the international trade of cocaine and marijuana. Direct links to the South American production sites are documented, as well as involvement in the financing, transport or distribution of drugs. Italian mafia groups also have a strong presence in the country, where they engage predominantly in drug trafficking and money laundering. To that end, they have managed to infiltrate the legitimate economy of Germany. There is no evidence of state-embedded criminal actors or groups, but there have been recent reports of right-wing extremism within the police force and the military, and right-wing terrorists’ alleged connections to intelligence and law enforcement.

    Leadership and governance

    The German government and its security and law enforcement institutions cite organized crime as a constant challenge, despite promoting their ongoing efforts at combating the phenomenon. Their efforts include issuing yearly situation reports on organized crime, as well as on specific criminal topics. Nevertheless, there appears to be three main issues of concern regarding the effectiveness of governance in the fight against organized crime: public authorities’ lack of control over certain parts of German cities; the apparent rise of right-wing extremism and terrorism, and their ties to security forces; and Germany’s role as a money-laundering hotspot. Overall, the level of corruption in Germany is perceived to be fairly low. The government also issues a yearly report on the prevention of corruption in public administration, alongside various guidelines, and there is also an ombudsperson against corruption. Nevertheless, there has been criticism regarding the regulation of financial contributions to political parties, as well as the possible conflicts of interest of politicians.

    Germany is a signatory party to all relevant multilateral treaties concerning organized crime. Furthermore, it is involved in various international efforts to prevent and combat organized crime, in particular in providing funding to organizations working to tackle organized crime. However, with regard to cooperation between Germany and Italy on the case of mafia groups, Italian counterparts have often reported problems. Domestic legislation covers a broad scope of organized-crime forms, including human trafficking and smuggling, as well as arms and drug trafficking and various forms of environmental crime. However, in Germany, there is only a ‘working definition’ of organized crime, which is very general and mostly serves to allocate police responsibilities and distribute resources.

    Criminal justice and security

    Germany ranks high with regard to the effectiveness of its criminal justice system. The country receives high appraisals of all subcomponents, including the absence of corruption and political influence in the criminal justice system, and the effectiveness of the correctional system. Trust in the justice system is high overall, but is much lower in the eastern parts of Germany compared to the west. Research suggests that there is more corruption inside detention facilities than formally recognized. The German police as well as the prosecution services and courts have specialized departments and units dedicated to tackling organized crime. The federal criminal police office, in conjunction with its state-level counterparts and state police offices, has the jurisdiction to conduct investigations relating to trafficking in human beings, weapons, ammunition, explosives, drugs and other illicit commodities. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are generally trusted and effective, but there has been criticism of a lack of funding constraining the effectiveness of criminal investigations into organized crimes. There is no evidence of border control being compromised by neighbouring countries and very little information about corruption within customs or border police. Despite this, German borders are difficult to monitor and fairly porous.

    Economic and financial environment

    Legitimate private businesses are generally able to operate free from criminal activities in all sectors of the economy. However, foreign criminal groups, in particular Italian mafia groups, have heavily invested in the formal economy – in sectors such as the restaurant industry primarily – as a front for money laundering. Other legal markets, such as real estate, are also vulnerable to money laundering. The country’s agency responsible for combating money laundering has been criticized since 2017 for its ineffectiveness, caused by severe underfinancing and understaffing. Due to the wide acceptance of cash payments, Germany is considered an ideal site for organized crime groups to launder money. In spite of these issues, overall Germany is considered to be among the countries that are more resilient to money laundering and terrorist financing.

    Civil society and social protection

    The government has a fairly robust framework in place to provide support to victims to exit modern slavery. There are wide-ranging programmes with regard to witness protection, support for sex workers, victims of forced prostitution and other crimes, and an ombudsperson against corruption, among others. However, most of the support programmes are implemented at a federal level, poorly budgeted for, and cannot provide sufficient support. The country also has several state initiatives and institutions in place to prevent organized crime. Independent and investigative journalism plays a key role in uncovering criminal activities, including human trafficking, human smuggling, the drug trade, mafia-style groups, corruption and white collar crime. Despite decreasing revenues, the German media landscape continues to be relatively healthy. However, there have been worrying trends since 2015, as far-right groups have threatened, harassed and even physically assaulted journalists. Additionally, a 2017 law has been perceived as threatening platform providers with fines if they fail to remove ‘clearly illegal’ content quickly. Furthermore, a law governing the intelligence service has made it legal for the service to spy on foreign journalists outside of the EU.

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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.