The Organized Crime Index | ENACT
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Jordan
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    Profile

    Jordan

    Capital

    Amman

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 45,744.27 million

    Income group

    Upper middle income

    Population

    11,148,278

    Area

    89,318 km²

    Geography type

    Coastal

    GINI Index

    33.7

    4.930.22

    Criminality score

    102nd of 193 countries 4

    29th of 46 countries in Asia3

    12th of 14 countries in Western Asia0

    Criminal markets

    4.870.32

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

    Human trafficking

    6.00-0.50

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

    Human smuggling

    5.500.00

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

    Extortion & protection racketeering

    4.00 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

    6.500.00

    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

    5.00 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

    3.500.00

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

    Fauna crimes

    3.500.00

    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

    2.000.50

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

    Heroin trade

    3.500.00

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

    Cocaine trade

    3.000.00

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

    Cannabis trade

    6.000.00

    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

    7.001.00

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

    Cyber-dependent crimes

    5.50 n/a

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

    Financial crimes

    6.50 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

    5.000.13

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

    Mafia-style groups

    1.500.00

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

    Criminal networks

    7.000.00

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

    State-embedded actors

    6.00-0.50

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

    Foreign actors

    4.500.00

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

    Private sector actors

    6.00 n/a

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

    5.58-0.33

    Resilience score

    54th of 193 countries -15

    8th of 46 countries in Asia-3

    2nd of 14 countries in Western Asia0

    Political leadership & governance

    5.50-1.50

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

    Government transparency and accountability

    4.50-0.50

    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

    6.00-0.50

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

    Judicial system and detention

    4.500.00

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

    Law enforcement

    6.50-0.50

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

    Territorial integrity

    6.000.00

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

    Anti-money laundering

    6.500.00

    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

    4.000.00

    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

    4.500.00

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

    Prevention

    6.500.00

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

    Non-state actors

    4.50-1.00

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

    5.58 5.00 4.87 5.58 5.00 4.87

    5.58-0.33

    Resilience score

    54th of 193 countries -15

    8th of 46 countries in Asia-3

    2nd of 14 countries in Western Asia0

    Political leadership & governance

    5.50-1.50

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

    Government transparency and accountability

    4.50-0.50

    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

    6.00-0.50

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

    Judicial system and detention

    4.500.00

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

    Law enforcement

    6.50-0.50

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

    Territorial integrity

    6.000.00

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

    Anti-money laundering

    6.500.00

    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

    4.000.00

    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

    4.500.00

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

    Prevention

    6.500.00

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

    Non-state actors

    4.50-1.00

    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

    Jordan serves as a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking. Although tighter border controls introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic initially reduced cross-border human trafficking, the country's ongoing economic challenges have made people more susceptible to trafficking. Among the most vulnerable populations are those from Syria, Egypt, Iraq and the Palestinian territories. The garment industry commonly exploits workers from Southeast Asia and East Africa, while children in refugee camps are at risk of being recruited for illicit activities or by militias. Organ trafficking, with kidneys being the most sought-after organs, has also emerged as a significant issue in recent years. The profits generated from human trafficking are often laundered through legitimate business ventures such as real estate. The Kafala system, which legally binds migrant workers to their employers, is highly criticized for increasing the risk of abuse and exploitation.

    Jordan primarily serves as a point of origin and destination for human smuggling. The Kafala system has also been blamed for driving the human smuggling market, with many foreign workers, primarily Bengalis and Egyptians, living in Jordan. The deterioration of the security situation in Syria has led to the proliferation of human smuggling networks across the border from Jordan, which are effectively monopolized by tribal groups. Smuggling activity across the Jordanian-Syrian border has increased since the government changed its rules of military engagement along the border in 2021. The EU remains a common destination for irregular migrants from Jordan, and smugglers exploit social media to lure people seeking to migrate to Europe, providing them with fake identification papers and smuggling them through transit countries into the continent. Incidents of extortion and protection racketeering in Jordan appear to be spreading, especially in the impoverished areas of east Amman and Zarqa, with authorities regularly reporting crackdowns on the groups responsible for these crimes.

    Trade

    Jordan's illegal arms trade is relatively small compared to that of its neighbouring countries. The decrease in weapons smuggling across Jordan's borders can be attributed to the overall reduction of instability in the region over the past few years, including the collapse of the Islamic State and the recapture of southern Syria by government forces. However, there has recently been an increase in arms smuggling activity between Jordan and Israel, particularly in the north-west region along their shared border. Cross-border arms trafficking networks in Jordan operate covertly, using the many desert routes controlled by groups with tribal and nomadic backgrounds. Such groups typically conduct two-way trafficking of arms through the country's deserts and over the border, and some have links to terrorist organizations and regime forces in neighbouring countries. The illicit influx of arms from Syria tends to overlap with drug trafficking networks. Moreover, the normalization of arms possession within Jordan has led to high domestic demand for weapons, with the remaining arms typically destined for buyers in the Palestinian territories. Around half of the total profits from foreign criminal actors that supply arms and ammunition benefit local Jordanian tribes and other groups, with the rest going to the suppliers.

    Jordan's position as a regional trade hub has made it an attractive destination for criminals to trade counterfeit goods, with the port of Aqaba serving as a gateway for such products. Jordanian authorities have identified several fake websites and social media pages that are being used by criminals to defraud people by selling them counterfeit and fake gold and other precious jewellery. The country has also been identified as a source country for fraudulent food products in the region. Illicit market for excisable goods is mainly limited to tobacco products. This is a significant market in Jordan, with criminal groups involved in distributing counterfeit variants which pose increased health risks to consumers. The absence of other markets is largely due to the country's low customs taxes, which offer little incentive for criminal groups to flood the black market with a variety of excisable goods.

    Environment

    Jordan's market for flora crimes is relatively small. However, the country's limited forests, which cover only 1% of the country, have made illicit logging a profitable business. The forests of Jerash and Ajloun are among the most frequently targeted areas due to their high concentration of trees. Wildfires are often set to destroy parts of the forest, to facilitate illegal logging. Several plant species, such as tulips, daffodils, lupins and cyclamens are illegally collected for medicinal purposes; their survival is now under threat.

    Jordan serves as a transit and, to a lesser extent, source country for the illicit trade in wildlife, largely due to its geostrategic location between the Gulf, Africa and Europe. Longstanding conflicts in neighbouring countries like Syria and the Gaza Strip have significantly impacted natural habitats and created a market for smuggling wildlife species into Jordan. Illegal hunting has led to the rapid decline of several species, including roe deer, fallow deer and Arabian oryx, as well as the placement of the turtle dove on the red list of threatened species. The smuggling of rare falcons has also been a persistent issue, with many smuggled through the Omari crossing into Saudi Arabia. There have also been reports of online wildlife trading.

    Even though the smuggling of natural resources is not a prevalent market in the country, there has been an increase in fuel smuggling across the border between Jordan and Saudi Arabia in recent years due to the increase in fuel prices. Benefitting from lower prices in Saudi Arabia, Jordanian organized crime groups collaborate with their Saudi counterparts in border areas to smuggle fuel into Jordan.

    Drugs

    The heroin market in Jordan is relatively small due to the drug’s high cost and low demand. Heroin entering the country is primarily destined for the Gulf region, and border guards and police have noticed an increase in heroin seizures in recent years. Just as with the heroin trade, cocaine has a minimal presence in Jordan. This is largely due to its high cost, with drug users in the country opting for cheaper alternatives. However, there have been occasional attempts to smuggle cocaine via air.

    Cannabis resin is the most widely consumed drug in Jordan. Most resin entering the country originates in Lebanon and is smuggled into Jordan through Syria and Iraq. In recent years, more resin arriving via these two countries has been intercepted, particularly during the winter months when smugglers take advantage of poor weather conditions to traffic drugs and other goods across the border using four-wheel drive vehicles, pack animals or on foot. In addition, Captagon, a synthetic drug primarily produced in Syria, has become much more prevalent in Jordan. While the country had long been primarily a transit zone for the drug on its way to the Gulf, the expanding regional market has led to growing domestic use. Within Jordan, Captagon use is most widespread among young people in Amman, the country’s capital. Alongside Captagon, there is a small domestic market for a synthetic form of cannabis called Joker, which contains herbs of unknown origin and is often mixed with toxic compounds. Nevertheless, Jordan primarily serves as a transit country for Joker to reach the Gulf region.

    Cyber Crimes

    In Jordan, cyber-dependent crimes are not as prevalent as other forms of organized crime facilitated through the internet, such as phishing attacks. Cybercriminals often aim to disrupt networks, steal data and exploit infrastructure to launch further attacks. Reports have particularly shown a growing number of instances of malware attacks, which give criminals remote access to devices and disclose information. Other common forms of cyber-dependent crimes in Jordan include the use of spyware and ransomware attempts.

    Financial Crimes

    Financial crimes are becoming a more significant concern in Jordan, particularly through scams and hacking. in the number of digital fraud and extortion cases has increased, with thousands of Jordanians falling victim to scammers and hackers who use fake links and web pages to steal money. The government has reported the emergence of unlicensed companies claiming to operate on worldwide stock exchanges and investments. Criminals have also created fake social media pages that promote so-called royal generosity to defraud citizens and hack their personal and bank data. Additionally, phishing emails have been sent to random people, falsely claiming that their information and devices have been hacked, and demanding payment in exchange for not publishing the data. There have also been allegations that members of the political elite have embezzled public funds and transferred millions of dollars to offshore companies.

    Criminal Actors

    Criminal networks in Jordan are prevalent and operate in the country's border provinces near Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Syria. While spread across the country, these networks are mostly concentrated in the refugee camps, and have typically received long-term support from tribal networks involved in organized crime. Criminal networks in Jordan have been expanding their activities. For example, they smuggle and resell Saudi currency in the south of the country, where they profit from the difference in exchange rates. In addition, the country's criminal networks have turned to the black market for organs, exploiting vulnerable young people with monetary incentives, and selling their organs in the Gulf region. The interaction of foreign criminal groups with local actors is also closely linked, with ties often based on cross-border familial and tribal ties. Hezbollah is thought to be involved in many of Jordan’s illicit economies, including weapons and drug trafficking.

    Jordan's state-embedded criminal actors are largely rooted in the country’s clan and tribal structures, and their activities often involve large sums of money sourced from Lebanon's Hezbollah. There have also been reports of corruption among border employees who facilitate criminal activities. Hezbollah, for example, allegedly facilitates illicit shipments of drugs, weapons and other goods by bribing officials on both side of the Jordanian-Syrian border. Similarly, senior members of criminal tribal networks are believed to have purchased allegiances from members of local communities.

    Notably, the cultural concept of 'wasta', which involves favouritism and emphasizes the importance of building relationships, makes the Jordanian private sector particularly susceptible to corruption. For instance, investors with good wasta can expedite procedures, gain exclusive access to services and information, and even influence legislation to their advantage. Jordanian society has a long tradition of Bedouin groups operating around tribal loyalties, with a few reaching into Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia. These groups can be classified as mafia-style groups. However, their activities have little consequence for Jordanian society at large due to this historical precedent.

    Leadership and governance

    In comparison to its neighbours, Jordan is generally considered a politically stable country. It has various government agencies dedicated to combating organized crime and defending against international threats, such as the anti-narcotics department and the anti-trafficking unit. The April 2021political crisis and subsequent sedition trial, has further heightened concerns about the country's security and stability. In addition, high taxes and low salaries have led to a loss of trust of people in the government. Nevertheless, Jordan's democratic process remains independent and protected from interference by criminal organizations. Despite the existence of laws criminalizing corruption in Jordan, it remains a significant issue, with frequent involvement and often impunity of high-ranking officials and companies. The government has taken some measures to address corruption, the effectiveness of which has been limited. Nepotism and lack of accountability remain problematic. On the other hand, Jordan has made significant strides in developing control and electronic payment systems, with the government publishing its budget online for transparency purposes. However, access to information in Jordan is generally limited, and citizens often rely on personal connections, known as wasta, to access public services, thus increasing vulnerability to organized crime.

    Jordan has developed positive security relationships with its neighbours, including recent improvements with Syria. The country heavily depends on foreign assistance and aid, and has ratified international treaties that enable it to respond effectively to organized crime. It also cooperates with many countries worldwide, including the International Criminal Court and the UNODC. Jordan has established extradition regulations that govern inter-state relations and its national extradition procedures. Moreover, Jordan cooperates with international counterparts, including the US and Indonesia, especially on security issues. Regarding its national laws and policies, in recent years, Jordan has made significant efforts to address a range of criminal activities, such as human trafficking, arms smuggling and drug trafficking. These efforts include creating new units, launching national strategies and implementing action plans to combat these crimes. Jordan has also taken steps to amend existing laws to make them more effective in combating these crimes, such as imposing harsher punishments for those charged with human trafficking and drug trafficking offences. However, the effectiveness of these laws and the enforcement of existing laws remain a concern, as demonstrated by the high number of unlicensed firearms seized in recent years. There are also ongoing discussions regarding proposed amendments to the cybercrime law, which could potentially violate fundamental rights such as privacy and free speech.

    Criminal justice and security

    Civilian courts in Jordan are generally viewed as transparent and procedurally sound, but their inefficiency has led to a significant backlog of cases, and authorities do not always follow court orders. The country’s justice system reflects good democratic principles, with the separation of powers enshrined in the constitution and the judiciary’s independence guaranteed. However, allegations of special interests and nepotism affecting the ’independence of the judiciary persist. Tribalism also plays a significant role in judicial proceedings. In recent years, Jordan has taken further steps to improve its judicial and prison systems, including a focus on rehabilitation over punishment, providing prisoners with various services and using electronic bracelets as an alternative to detention. However, progress in these areas has been slow, and reports of torture in prisons – particularly of political dissidents – have emerged. Overcrowding is also a significant issue in prisons, which have many administrative and judicial detainees.

    There are several specialized units that are responsible for combating various forms of organized crime, including human trafficking, drug trafficking and trade in counterfeit goods, and carrying out criminal investigations in Jordan. Even though law enforcement is considered reliable by the Jordanian people, in practice, its efforts to combat organized crime are not up to international standards.

    The porous nature of Jordan's borders, especially in its eastern provinces, makes maintaining territorial integrity challenging, with the open deserts providing hotbeds for traffickers and terrorist groups. Jordan struggles to adequately control its borders, given the close kinship links between Jordanian tribes and those on the other side of the borders in neighbouring countries. The Jordanian government has focused on strengthening its grip on the periphery, particularly along the Syrian and Iraqi borders, but challenges remain, such as tensions in the West Bank and smuggling along the Saudi border.

    Economic and financial environment

    Jordan has been grappling with challenges in preventing money laundering and terrorist financing, resulting in its inclusion in the FATF's grey list in 2021. To address these shortcomings, the country enacted anti-money laundering frameworks, such as the know-your-customer programme, which has helped to identify financial networks involved in money laundering. However, the conflict in Syria continues to fuel an informal black market outside the Jordanian government's purview, creating opportunities for terrorist groups to exploit the ongoing instability, including the extensive smuggling of Saudi currency, which is suspected to be linked to drug money from Syria.

    In addition, Jordan’s economy is struggling with high levels of debt, unemployment and poverty, all of which worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. The informal sector constitutes a significant proportion of the Jordanian economy as a result of high taxes, leading to increased taxation pressure on formal sector businesses. Jordan has taken measures to monitor financial institutions and ensure compliance with regulations to curb illicit activities. Recent efforts to reduce customs duties on imported goods are aimed at reducing smuggling and tax evasion. However, challenges such as a budget deficit, trade account deficit, public debt and high rate of youth unemployment persist.

    Civil society and social protection

    The victim and witness protection schemes in Jordan are not effectively enforced, and have several shortcomings, including a lack of evidence gathering, interpretation issues and perpetrators who are beyond the reach of the police. Insufficient resources also hinder the identification and care of victims. Despite efforts to combat human trafficking, victims are still treated poorly, and are subject to arrest, imprisonment and deportation for acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. Although drug use and possession are criminalized in Jordan, people who admit to using drugs and seek treatment are exempt from penalties. Jordan does provide shelters for victims of organized crime and witnesses with high confidentiality. However, there are still gaps that need to be addressed, including the lack of a follow-up and reintegration programme for victims and conflicting laws that make it difficult to identify victims of human trafficking.

    Jordan has various prevention measures in place to prevent organized crime, and the authorities have maintained strong prevention efforts. For example, they distribute anti-trafficking brochures to all foreign migrant workers entering the country to raise awareness about trafficking crimes. Major efforts are also made to prevent forced early marriages among Syrian refugees, which put refugee women and girls at risk of abuse and exploitation. Additionally, work permits are issued to Syrian refugees to regularize their employment and protect them from exploitation in the workplace.

    Jordan has a wide range of society organizations, including cultural bodies, charities and research centres. The government plays an active role in maintaining its reputation to attract financial support and assistance, including humanitarian aid for refugees. Civil society organizations cooperate with international actors and remain prevalent in several cities. Although they operate non-confrontationally with authorities, they have produced tangible results, including laws supporting women's rights. Despite the existence of an active civil society environment, media freedom continues to be limited in the country. There have been reports indicating that the government imposes restrictions on individuals and organizations criticizing it. There is also political pressure on the media applied through threats of large fines and prison sentences, resulting in self-censorship in the coverage of sensitive issues.

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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.