Europol: Violence from Organized Crime is on the Rise

Published: 02 February 2021

According to Europol, contract killing rates ranged from US$12,000 to over $120,000. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)According to Europol, contract killing rates ranged from US$12,000 to over $120,000. (Photo: Tony Webster, Wikimedia, License)

By David Klein

The European Union is concerned over escalating trends of violence in organized crime groups, according to a new Europol report that cited examples of makeshift torture chambers in the Netherlands, gang wars in Sweden and reported cases of deadly violence in Denmark, Belgium, Italy and Spain.

Europol found the uptick to be centered around major transit points and port cities where criminal gangs and trafficking groups tend to be entrenched, but didn’t include any exact numbers. 

Friday’s report noted that proximity to highly populated areas posed a direct threat to the general public as violence “spilled out” onto the streets of surrounding cities. 

Though many may think that organized crime and violence go hand in hand, according to Europol not all forms of organised crime are intrinsically violent, particularly in the trade of illicit goods or other clandestine operations.  

“While organised crime groups recognise the expedient value of force, they have historically tended to resort to violence only when other forms of intimidation prove inadequate,” Europol said. 

The reason being, violence too often attracts unwanted attention. 

“Unlike terrorists who seek to confront the state and rely on symbolic acts of violence to do so, organised crime groups prefer to operate covertly to maximise profits while keeping the state at arm’s length,” Europol added. 

The new spate of violence shows that the groups are becoming more and more brazen. 

One aim may be to weaken trust in the state, Europol said. 

Elsewhere, violence has been seen between warring criminal groups as a result of increased competition, and has been seen more in volatile drug trades, with constantly changing players, like cannabis and cocaine than in more established trades like heroin. 

Europol also found that the trend of crime-as-a-service, which has been witnessed in a variety of criminal fields, applies to violence and even murder as a well. 

“It is worth noting that violence is increasingly being marketed as a commodity by certain organised crime groups,” Europol said. “While murders are often executed by organised crime group members themselves, the violence can also be outsourced. Contract killings are primarily executed in return for cash.”

According to Europol, contract killing rates ranged from US$12,000 to over $120,000, but found that in many EU member states younger, less experienced criminals were increasingly accepting lower rates for murder. 

“This trend is unlikely to decrease in the short term as violence will thrive from organised crime opening to diversity and competition, becoming more digitized and expanding its global reach,” said Jari Liukku, Head of Europol’s European Serious Organised Crime Centre.