Norway
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    Profile

    Norway

    Capital

    Oslo

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 403,336.36 million

    Income group

    High income

    Population

    5,347,896

    Area

    625,222 km²

    Geography type

    Coastal

    3.82

    Criminality score

    153rd of 193 countries

    34th of 44 countries in Europe

    3rd of 8 countries in Northern Europe

    Criminal market

    4.00

    Human trafficking

    5.00

    Human smuggling

    3.50

    Arms trafficking

    3.50

    Flora crimes

    2.50

    Fauna crimes

    4.00

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    3.50

    Heroin trade

    5.00

    Cocaine trade

    4.50

    Cannabis trade

    4.00

    Synthetic drug trade

    4.50

    Criminal actors

    3.63

    Mafia-style groups

    4.50

    Criminal networks

    4.00

    State-embedded actors

    2.00

    Foreign actors

    4.00

    7.92

    Resilience score

    7th of 193 countries

    5th of 44 countries in Europe

    4th of 8 countries in Northern Europe

    Political leadership and governance

    8.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    8.50

    International cooperation

    9.00

    National policies and laws

    8.50

    Judicial system and detention

    8.00

    Law enforcement

    8.50

    Territorial integrity

    8.00

    Anti-money laundering

    7.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    7.50

    Victim and witness support

    7.50

    Prevention

    7.00

    Non-state actors

    7.50

    7.92 3.63 4.00 7.92 3.63 4.00

    7.92

    Resilience score

    7th of 193 countries

    5th of 44 countries in Europe

    4th of 8 countries in Northern Europe

    Political leadership and governance

    8.00

    Government transparency and accountability

    8.50

    International cooperation

    9.00

    National policies and laws

    8.50

    Judicial system and detention

    8.00

    Law enforcement

    8.50

    Territorial integrity

    8.00

    Anti-money laundering

    7.00

    Economic regulatory capacity

    7.50

    Victim and witness support

    7.50

    Prevention

    7.00

    Non-state actors

    7.50

    Analysis

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    People

    Norway is primarily a destination country in the human trafficking trade, with victims arriving mainly via Denmark and Sweden. The number of human trafficking victims in Norway has been steadily increasing since 2007. Reports suggest that perpetrators are usually either Norwegian or share the nationality of the victims. They are part of a loose organized crime structure, typically based on family or ethnic affiliations with potential ties to organized crime groups abroad. Human trafficking may occur in combination with document forgery, social security fraud, money laundering or the exploitation of victims of other crimes, such as drug production. It is estimated that most of the revenue from human trafficking in Norway is yielded by prostitution and forced labour in the construction sector. Notably, the COVID-19 pandemic established strong restrictions in terms of the freedom of movement and border controls, which seems to have reduced the frequency of human trafficking incidents.

    Norway is a destination and transit country within the human smuggling trade. It is primarily a destination for human smuggling due to its image and reputation internationally as a place of safety and public goods. As with human trafficking, small groups or individuals of similar ethnicities with ties abroad dominate this market. There is a high likelihood that perpetrators will increasingly abuse technological means to conceal their identity and lower risks by forging, selling and buying false documents online. Exploitation such as false parenting or forced marriage, as well as false allegations of being victims of human trafficking, are some strategies used by smuggling networks in the country.

    Trade

    It is suggested that Norway is both its own source and destination country for arms trafficking, as a large proportion of the weapons found in circulation appear to originate from within the country. However, information surrounding the illicit arms market in Norway is, for the most part, limited. The country’s military and police have received criticism for their substandard procedures for decommissioning firearms. Motorcycle gangs in the country are suspected of robbing military weapon caches in Norway and Sweden in collaboration with Balkan-based networks. It also appears that the main handlers of illegal weapons are private collectors. Another source is the dark web, which instructs customers how to assemble firearms at home.

    Environment

    Crimes related to fauna do occur in Norway, though it remains uncertain to what extent they are perpetrated by organized crime groups. The smuggling of wildlife into Norway is facilitated through its extensive land borders. The country’s reptile trade ban appears to have spurred the emergence of a black market. Furthermore, Norway is the world's largest exporter of farmed salmon and significant volumes of farmed fish escape each year. Though this crime may not be linked to organized crime, other parts of the fishing industry may be. Illegal wolf hunting also occurs, albeit to a limited degree. Similarly, there is minimal information on non-renewable resource crimes in Norway, however, occasional incidents have been recorded. ‘Unconscious smuggling’ may also occur across the border between Norway and Sweden, a process in which people trade goods including alcohol, gasoline, food products, gemstones and more, without realising they are committing a crime. There is no significant evidence of a significant flora crimes market in Norway, although information suggests that protected plant species are being imported in the country.

    Drugs

    Cannabis is the most commonly seized illegal substance in Norway, with organized crime increasingly focused on its production and distribution efforts. Norway is primarily a destination country for cannabis brought in via the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Poland. Reports suggest that mafia-style groups and ethnic gangs control smuggling into Norway, and the distribution of the drug within the country. Despite the legalization of medical marijuana, cannabis continues to be highly valuable as a smuggled good to organized crime groups in Norway. It is likely that Norway is both a source and destination country for synthetic drugs. Amphetamines are thought to arrive by way of Germany, Poland and Sweden, with most of the MDMA being transported from the Netherlands. With regards to domestic production and trade, the import of chemicals used to make synthetics has significantly increased, partly due to the ease by which these can be obtained online. Foreign actors play a key role in the production and trafficking of synthetic drugs and their precursor chemicals.

    Norway is largely a destination country for heroin sourced from West Africa, Morocco, Poland, Lithuania and the Balkans. Heroin trafficking in Norway is carried out by smaller organized crime groups and individuals, often with ties in origin and transit countries. Mafia-style groups retain a significant share in the market. Norway is primarily a destination country for cocaine, with the drug entering Norway through other European countries, often from South American countries and the Netherlands. There has been some increase in the use and importation of cocaine in Norway as criminal networks cease the trade of synthetic drugs in favour of cocaine. Although major gangs are presumed to control the market, many smaller entrepreneurs and dealers are active. Smugglers and international actors are known to cooperate with local groups.

    Criminal Actors

    Most organized crime in Norway is carried out by loose criminal networks, many of which are long-standing and generational, homegrown networks. Motorcycle gangs have little influence on the Norwegian society or state, and they have no interest in dominating territory or the political arena. Overall, most biker groups have grown old and tired, but some members are still criminally active. The most notorious mafia-style groups in Norway are based in Oslo, with affiliates across the country. The groups consist of criminals who engage mostly in drug-related crimes, violence and extortion. Since gangs in Norway are in different areas, they are said to be quite territorial and protective. However, no criminal enclaves are present and are usually limited to residential areas in the suburbs. Many use legal business structures to launder money.

    Foreign actors play a principal role in organized crime in Norway. Historically, the most notorious criminal groups in Norway have been based in Oslo, with affiliates across the country who tend to be connected to groups with different ethnic backgrounds. Certain criminal markets tend to be more connected to specific ethnic groups. In general, organized crime in Norway does not involve corrupt police, customs, or political officials. Furthermore, there are minimal records of any state-embedded actors involved in such activities.

    Leadership and governance

    The Norwegian government has taken a strong public stance against organized crime. However, political parties approach it from different perspectives, with some taking the economic angle, and others focusing on immigration. The government’s approach involves close collaboration with law enforcement agencies. While the government has received criticism for its slow response to organized crime, the overall apparatus appears effective. Furthermore, the level of corruption in Norway is perceived to be fairly low. The government has put in place a data-protection authority that serves as a watchdog. Governmental agencies and the cabinet also maintain publicly available websites that are frequently updated for budgets, contracts, policy proposals and meeting minutes. Nevertheless, there have been a few cases of corruption, especially at the municipal level.

    At the international level, Norway is considered to be a trusted partner in the fight against organized crime and is among the major global financial contributors to this work. Norway has supported the development of key initiatives in the field of justice against human trafficking, corruption, terror and piracy. Moreover, it actively provides financial support to numerous bilateral programmes researching organized crime. Additionally, the Norwegian police cooperate with other Nordic police forces. Domestically, Norway has a national legal framework against organized crime, which guides authorities in the definition of what constitutes organized crime and the criminal justice process itself. The current criminal law stipulates two penal provisions that directly target participation in criminal organizations.

    Criminal justice and security

    Norway’s judicial system is characterized by high levels of public trust. Overall, the Norwegian judiciary is well resourced by the state and able to make effective decisions across the board. Norway does not have a constitutional court, nor does it have a special court for different forms of organized crime. The state exercises firm control over the country’s prison system, where a third of prisoners are foreign nationals. This is probably due to Norway applying significantly harsher penalties against crimes involving drugs. Generally, the country’s prison standards are known to be among the best in the world.

    In terms of law enforcement, the Norwegian government follows a number of priorities to fight organized crime. This includes making ongoing assessments of criminal law so that it remains an appropriate and effective instrument, developing and strengthening interaction across police district boundaries, and strengthening the role of the national coordination body. A multi-agency approach is used in policing organized crimes and cooperation is often supported between municipalities, tax authorities, the welfare system and local criminal preventive councils. The police also have specialized human trafficking units in the five largest cities. With regards to territorial integrity, most organized crime occurs across Norway’s land borders with Sweden and Finland. Given the borders’ length, as well as the surrounding landscape, they are difficult routes to control. Nevertheless, there are several permanent customs offices and checkpoints along these borders. Additionally, there is effective collaboration between Norwegian and Swedish border agencies, as well as surveillance cameras at all crossings. Due to the rise of illegal immigration in recent years, additional border measures have been introduced.

    Economic and financial environment

    Norway has stable and well-functioning financial institutions, which provide basic preconditions for ensuring the protection of the economy from criminal elements, with strong property rights and welfare systems. This is further enabled by a large state sector that can fund these institutions without disrupting economic stability, leaving space for entrepreneurial projects. The Norwegian business life is thoroughly regulated. Norway has a rather limited black or hidden economy compared to other nations. Furthermore, the country has comprehensive anti-money laundering measures and actively participates in international anti-money laundering initiatives. Overall, these measures constitute one of the main strategic priorities of the Norwegian government’s efforts to tackle organized crime.

    Civil society and social protection

    Victim and witness support form a significant part of the government’s strategy against organized crime. These support programmes are political and private-sector initiatives, where businesses, police, volunteers and civil society all play a role. With regards to prevention, Norway focuses on the local level. There are, for example, crime prevention councils in each municipality collaborating with the local police to identify and implement strategies tailored to the local environment. The government is also creating collaborative forums, with resources being spent, both domestically and internationally, on research about organized crime and its impact on Norway and the world. Overall, civil society organizations’ efforts appear to be focused on the local environment, in such a way that they are tailored to the prevalent conditions in certain municipalities, rather than the country as a whole. Furthermore, media freedom, freedom of expression and the right of access to information are highly respected in the country, as are the audit and ombudsman offices.

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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.