Romania
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    Profile

    Romania

    Capital

    Bucharest

    Gross domestic product (GDP)

    USD 250,077.44 million

    Income group

    High income

    Population

    19,366,221

    Area

    238,400 km²

    Geography type

    Coastal

    4.59

    Criminality score

    115th of 193 countries

    22nd of 44 countries in Europe

    13th of 17 countries in Central & Eastern Europe

    Criminal market

    5.05

    Human trafficking

    6.50

    Human smuggling

    5.50

    Arms trafficking

    3.50

    Flora crimes

    6.00

    Fauna crimes

    5.00

    Non-renewable resource crimes

    4.00

    Heroin trade

    5.50

    Cocaine trade

    5.50

    Cannabis trade

    4.50

    Synthetic drug trade

    4.50

    Criminal actors

    4.13

    Mafia-style groups

    4.00

    Criminal networks

    5.00

    State-embedded actors

    3.50

    Foreign actors

    4.00

    5.58

    Resilience score

    51st of 193 countries

    26th of 44 countries in Europe

    4th of 17 countries in Central & Eastern Europe

    Political leadership and governance

    5.50

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.50

    International cooperation

    6.50

    National policies and laws

    6.00

    Judicial system and detention

    6.00

    Law enforcement

    5.50

    Territorial integrity

    6.50

    Anti-money laundering

    5.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    5.00

    Victim and witness support

    5.00

    Prevention

    5.00

    Non-state actors

    5.00

    5.58 4.13 5.05 5.58 4.13 5.05

    5.58

    Resilience score

    51st of 193 countries

    26th of 44 countries in Europe

    4th of 17 countries in Central & Eastern Europe

    Political leadership and governance

    5.50

    Government transparency and accountability

    5.50

    International cooperation

    6.50

    National policies and laws

    6.00

    Judicial system and detention

    6.00

    Law enforcement

    5.50

    Territorial integrity

    6.50

    Anti-money laundering

    5.50

    Economic regulatory capacity

    5.00

    Victim and witness support

    5.00

    Prevention

    5.00

    Non-state actors

    5.00

    Analysis

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    People

    Romania is a major country of origin and destination for human trafficking, and is among the top five countries in the EU for human trafficking victims. Victims from Romania are trafficked mainly to Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the UK, while Pakistan and the Philippines are the major source countries for those coming into Romania. The victims of trafficking live in vulnerable economic and social conditions, and are forced to work in the sex, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and hotel industries. They are also exploited for domestic service, forced begging and theft. A common modus operandi that is used to trap victims (over half of whom are children) involves the so-called ‘lover boy’ method, whereby traffickers establish false romantic relationships with their victims, promising them a better life in Western Europe.

    Romania is part of the Eastern European border route used by criminal networks. Criminal groups smuggle migrants from Ukraine into and through Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland. A few migrants are smuggled from Turkey across the Black Sea into Romania and Bulgaria, from where they move north into Western Europe. With the recent tightening of the Serbia-Hungary border, there has been some displacement of human smuggling. Reportedly, smugglers now move people from Serbia through Romania and into Hungary. Other human-smuggling routes include organized crime groups consisting of Romanian and Indian nationals recruiting and smuggling Indian nationals from Romania to Italy, Germany and Portugal via land borders. According to officials, however, most smugglers are from Southern and Eastern Europe, with many trucks used to transport individuals registered under the name of Turkish companies.

    Trade

    Although its arms trafficking market has decreased considerably in the last decade, Romania is still a transit country for illegal weapons from Eastern Europe that are destined for other European countries. The trafficking of firearms to Romania from Western and Southern European countries also still takes place. Bulgaria is the main source country for Romania's illicit firearms. Albanian-speaking organized crime groups traffic weapons in Romania, along with Balkan, Russian, Georgian and Turkish criminal groups. Many firearms that end up on Romania's illegal gun market are illegally produced and/or trafficked. Guns are also diverted from the legal domestic market. In organized crime group transactions, firearms are exchanged for other, more high-priced goods and products.

    Environment

    Illegal logging takes place on a large scale in Romania. The illegal logging industry in Romania is among one of the largest in the EU. There is evidence linking illicit logging activities to organized crime gangs. Media reports suggest that the forestry sector is plagued by corruption, with some alleging that the police and forest rangers work hand in hand with illegal loggers. Romania is an important destination, transit and source country for wildlife trafficking. Traffickers allegedly use Romania's border with Ukraine to smuggle illicit wildlife into the EU. Romania is one of the few countries in Europe with a viable wildlife sturgeon population and thus has one of the most highly valued sturgeon caviar black markets in the world.

    Organized crime groups are involved in non-renewable resource crimes in Romania, including metal theft, illegal gold mining and oil smuggling. Metal theft in other European countries has also been linked to Romanian crime groups, as has the theft of valuable objects that are then melted down for their gold and silver.

    Drugs

    Romania forms part of the north Balkan route used for heroin produced in Afghanistan. The heroin entering Romania is either for local consumption or destined for Central and Western Europe. Cannabis is the most commonly used drug in Romania. Most users are young adults between the ages of 15 and 34. The drug is imported into Romania from Spain, Greece and Albania; however, the majority of cannabis seized in the country is domestically produced.

    Cocaine is the second most-seized drug in Romania. A large amount of it enters the country through Constanta harbour, from where it follows the Balkan route towards Western Europe, utilizing the same infrastructure developed for the trafficking of large quantities of heroin and synthetic drugs. Romanians living in South America, as well as South Americans living in Romania, create key links for organized crime groups trafficking cocaine. MDMA/Ecstasy seized in Romania is trafficked mainly from Germany and the Netherlands; while amphetamine is usually trafficked from Germany, Belgium and Bulgaria. New psychoactive substances come predominantly from Asia and usually arrive via postal services.

    Criminal Actors

    There is evidence of mafia-style groups in Romania. Most notable is the Tandarei mafia, which has received international attention for its role in human trafficking, particularly child trafficking. The group appears to have significant influence in the town of Tandarei. There are reports of other, unnamed organized crime groups involved in the human smuggling and human trafficking markets, and of Romanian mafia-style groups with operations in other parts of Europe, as well as in Asia, Africa and South America. Organized crime networks in Romania seem to be widespread, with a presence at the country's entry and exit points, especially along the North Balkan trafficking route. Romanian crime groups reportedly operate in tandem with other European networks. Those specializing in the smuggling of migrants are diverse and typically consist of members from source as well as transit countries.

    The foreign criminal diasporas involved in facilitating human trafficking and smuggling into and out of Romania are also involved in drug trafficking. Historically, Balkan, Russian, Georgian and Turkish organized crime groups have been active in Romania’s weapons trafficking market. Various other foreign organized crime groups from Asia and the Middle East are also active in Romania, due to the country’s location and the business opportunities it offers. State-embedded actors appear to have a limited but manageable influence on society and state structures.

    Leadership and governance

    Since the fall of communism, the main drivers of organized crime have been economic transition, political instability, the opening of borders and increased mobility. Joining the EU in 2007 created further opportunities for organized crime groups in Romania, especially with regard to VAT fraud. Poorly trained officials and a lack of cooperation between the public and private sector have hindered the country's efforts at tackling organized crime, but state fragility and vulnerability is diminishing. In spite of Romania having a relatively low corruption perception rating, the EU Commission has recorded serious flaws in the new government's response to tackling corruption. These include a bill that decriminalizes the abuse of power, the adoption of legislative changes to the judicial system with minimal or no consultation, and the subjection of judges and prosecutors to political attacks. However, the president’s election campaign in 2019 included a commitment to install chief prosecutors who would focus on tackling endemic corruption.

    Romania has signed several international agreements related to organized crime. It participates in investigations stemming from EU judicial cooperation and has extradition treaties with a handful of other countries. Romania’s domestic legal framework includes legislation on drug trafficking, human trafficking, the smuggling of migrants, arms trafficking and money laundering. It has also amended its laws to protect its forests.

    Criminal justice and security

    Romania's judicial system offers moderately strong penalties for involvement in illicit markets, and its law enforcement agencies have demonstrated success in disrupting smuggling activities. A range of agencies has been established to tackle organized crime. Nevertheless, the current application of sanctions has been inconsistent and further action is required to ensure that prosecutors and the judiciary can use the existing laws effectively. There are no private prisons in Romania, and the country is regularly condemned for its inadequate detention facilities and inhumane treatment of prisoners. Pre-trial detentions are common, and their length is still well above the European average.

    With regard to territorial integrity, most crimes detected by Romania's border police take place on its border with Moldova. Romania is an EU member state but not part of the Schengen zone, and there are therefore risks associated with its borders with Ukraine and Moldova, both of which experience fragility and higher levels of organized crime. Romania's geographical position at the crossroads of major trade routes from Eurasia towards Western Europe also increases its vulnerability.

    Economic and financial environment

    Romania has structures in place to make it somewhat resilient to money laundering and terrorist financing. It is a member of the Council of Europe's permanent monitoring mechanism (which assesses its members' compliance with its standards of countering money laundering and the financing of terrorism). In 2018, Romania adopted a new law designed to make the EU's anti-money laundering directive part of its local legislation – however, the law excludes so-called politically exposed persons from its scope. Romania’s position at the edge of the EU makes it a target for illicit financial flows, and there are claims that the Romanian banking sector is particularly vulnerable to Romanian organized crime groups laundering illicit profits through financial institutions in the UK. Despite these concerns, Romania is still considered to have an economic regulatory environment that is conducive to doing business.

    Civil society and social protection

    Romania offers physical, social and psychological assistance to the victims of human trafficking, regardless of the type of exploitation they have experienced to or their decision on whether or not to participate in judicial proceedings. Victims have a right to protection and are also entitled to free legal aid and financial compensation. Assistance is provided by social service organizations in both the public and private sectors. The government has a framework in place to provide support to victims of modern-day slavery and to help them exit from it. Romania provides outpatient treatment for drug users through a national network of drug prevention, evaluation and counselling centres. The country's preventive approach aims to raise public awareness and reduce demand, as well as to reduce the vulnerability of target groups, enhance their capacity to protect themselves and promote relevant hotlines through which people can report their suspicions and/or receive support. The state often implements its preventive activities in partnership with the private sector and civil society organizations. However, civil society’s access to funding has been seriously impeded under the current government, which has phased out many of Romania's major institutional programmes and limited NGOs' access to EU structural funds.

    With regard to media freedom, there is growing political censorship, as well as an increase in self-censorship. The media is often politicized as a propaganda tool and journalists are pressured into revealing their sources. The few independent media outlets that exist are subjected to arbitrary taxation and financial inspections whenever they publish criticisms of powerful politicians.

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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.