Europol warned in a report released on Monday that the coronavirus pandemic may benefit organized crime in Europe for many years, and because cocaine smuggling is unprecedented, this crime has reached a tipping point.
In its report prepared every four years, the European Police Agency concluded that criminal networks are likely to infiltrate from the economic crisis triggered by covid-19 into legal companies that have become more vulnerable.
According to The Hague Agency, in order to benefit from efforts to overcome the global health crisis, these organized groups also provide counterfeit covida-19 vaccines or counterfeit self-check kits.
Catherine Debor, director of Europol, told AFP: “We have reached the tipping point.”
She said: “The impact on citizens’ lives, the economy and the rule of law is too important. This is what this report reflects.”
The document said: “The duration of the influenza pandemic will put tremendous pressure on the European and world economies, and the expected recession will result in serious organized crime in the next few years.”
The European Commissioner for Civil Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said in a report in Lisbon: “Criminals can easily adapt to the pandemic.”
Europol is also concerned about the increase in drug-related corruption, as “unprecedented amounts of cocaine” are being smuggled from Latin America to the European Union, bringing billions of euros in revenue to criminal networks in these two regions.
In addition, the purity of cocaine is “higher than before in the European Union.”
Europol revealed that the smuggling of cocaine “supports criminal organizations that use its vast resources to infiltrate and disrupt the EU economy, public institutions and society.”
Smugglers were arrested in important European ports, such as Antwerp, Hamburg and Rotterdam, and record-breaking drugs were seized. For example, 23 tons of cocaine were seized in late February. The drugs were confiscated by the German and Dutch authorities.
The head of Europol said that drug smuggling is also the source of increased violence, and criminals “no longer fear the use of guns, grenades and torture.”
The health crisis that lasted for more than a year will have an important impact on the way organized gangs operate. In the eyes of those who wish to use it for illegal activities (such as money laundering), businesses weakened by the pandemic may become easy prey.
The coronavirus pandemic has opened up new possibilities for exploiting human fears. “Initially, we noticed an increase in the number of counterfeit masks and hydroalcoholic gels. Now, the trade volume of fake vaccines and fake self-tests has increased,” De Bolle said.
She warned: “These fake vaccines are harmful to health. You should not buy them.”