”You have to follow the money”

One of the biggest mafia trials in Germany recently took place in Constance, Baden-Württemberg. In an interview, Senior Public Prosecutor Joachim Speiermann explains the story behind it and why the sentence “Mafia? We’re not interested in that” was frequently heard.

Dr. Speiermann, you recently concluded one of the biggest mafia trials in Germany and hardly anyone noticed. How do you feel about it?

Of course, this is also connected with the fact that we live in Coronavirus times. That’s why the last days of the trials were not so heavily attended. After 100 days of hearing, the interest decreases noticeably.

The presiding judge spoke of a “mafia trial that was not a mafia trial” and he also said that he was not interested in whether someone belonged to the mafia, because under German law that was not relevant. Does this mean that German justice is blind to the mafia issue?

I don’t want to say it so directly, but I was a little surprised by that statement myself. The proceedings began thanks to the Drug Enforcement Administration and the American anti-drug agency, that shared some information with the Italian investigators. We were informed of the facts, because some of the people involved lived in our district. In the course of the investigation, we obtained clear evidence that this case had mafia ties. This was also confirmed during the trial by witnesses’ statements. Of course, in Germany, we cannot determine in detail who is a mafia member and who is not, but such a large drug trafficking can only be fully understood if the persons involved are also investigated. And I was somewhat disappointed that this did not happen – one cannot work only on a purely crime-oriented basis. It makes a difference whether there is a Mafia group involved or not. This should have been made clear by the court. What the President said to the chief investigator was revealing: “Please stay on the surface,” said the judge. It seemed that the judge did not want him to give a detailed report to the court. In addition, during the long main hearing the sentence “Mafia, we are not interested in that” was unfortunately repeated several times.

How do you explain this?

This is generally the tendency of courts. It’s easier to stay on the surface. It’s easier to condemn only those who confess and go deeper only if it is really necessary. This trial was not easy at the beginning, with about 20 defenders, attacking on all sides. But I would have liked to see the relations to Italy highlighted. However, the Chamber preferred to judge only drug transactions that had been carried out in Germany and not crimes committed abroad, such as a planned robbery of a jeweller in Verona, which had been prevented by the investigations.

Unfortunately, not a single policeman from Italy was called as a witness, although investigations were being carried out there.

You said that the people behind these drug deals in Italy were from the mafia. Does it make any difference to you, when you have people with such connections in front of you in court?

Sure, it makes a fundamental difference to the sentencing process. Whether it’s a single offender, spontaneous acts or organised crime. If there are references to the Calabrian ‘ndrangheta or the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, then this is a crucial point.

And what about you personally, since they are no good people at all. The mafia organisations have killed many judges and prosecutors just because they were doing their job.

After the group in Germany had difficulties with sales and the money didn’t come in, we heard a telephone conversation during the trial, where they said one should contact the Cupola in Palermo, the highest power centre of the Cosa Nostra.

But you did not think of people like Giovanni Falcone or Paolo Borsellino, who were murdered because of their fight against the Mafia?

No, I didn’t. I’m certainly aware of these acts and I’m impressed. I know how much the Italians respect these colleagues. Colleagues say that those who fight against mafia in Italy work under very different conditions than in our country, even today.

How did you experience the German police? Sometimes one can hear accusations that they do not want to act against the Mafia.

The opposite is true: the team here was probably the key to success. We had a very good police officer, a chief commissioner who was the contact person for Italian organised crime at the Landeskriminalamt (State Criminal Police Office) and who had incredibly good contacts in Italy. We brought him on board, and he established direct contact with investigators in Palermo. Then I met the responsible public prosecutor. That’s the only way the procedure worked. We then agreed on a direct exchange of information between the police forces at an early stage. This saved us the difficult route via Interpol or the police channel. Of course, the use of these informations then proceeded properly within the framework of mutual legal assistance. There were two procedures, so-called mirror procedures: mine in Germany and that of my colleagues in Italy. The respective findings were exchanged on a daily basis and there was always coordination.

 Does this approach also cause problems?

This procedure can already serve as a model. But it is required to have well motivated people in the team. If there are objections from the start, then it doesn’t work. We have a relatively small police headquarters here, the one in Rottweil, but it has already led some fairly large procedures to success. I do not think that there have been similar proceedings, at least not here in Baden-Württemberg. Basically, such procedures should be located at the LKA. After the investigations were completed, the then head of the Rottweil police headquarters presented the work of his team at the Bundeskriminalamt (Federal Criminal Police Office) in a lecture. They were surprised, and the message was that they could not do that at the BKA. But the BKA itself and the State Office of Criminal Investigation (apart from this one police officer) were never on board. The investigations later expanded to the Stuttgart area and to customers in Münster. These proceedings have been handed over to Münster, which worked out very well. There we already had some final convictions. The proceedings in Stuttgart were taken over some time ago. As far as I know, no charges have been brought so far.

I have read that a total of six million euros has been seized.

We approach proceedings differently in Germany than in Italy. Of course, we are also trying to seize assets in Germany. We have made requests for bank information and everything else, but unfortunately, we have not been able to identify and seize as many assets. This is also an advantage of a a pro of the German-Italian mirror procedure: the Italians then seized six apartments and lands as a preventive seizure.

What does that mean, preventive seizure?

If the defendant cannot explain where the capital invested comes from or the origin is dubious, not comprehensible, then assets can be seized in Italy. If someone pays hardly any taxes and then owns assets, then the Italians are relatively quick with preventive seizure. The accused must then prove the proper origin. If he cannot do this, the assets can be confiscated. That’s what happened also in this case. The underlying idea is that the capital can then be used for further crimes.

And that is not possible under German law?

Yes, this idea is now beginning to take effect in German law. Even if proceedings are dropped or someone is acquitted, seized assets can be confiscated if you are convinced that they have not been legally acquired. Under Article 76a of the German Criminal Code, this is now possible. It is a question of the assessment of evidence, and we have the instrument for this.

What lessons have you learned from these proceedings?

A positive lesson for me, the team and the police is that joint action also works across borders if the right people are involved and if people are motivated. That was the rewarding thing. The long duration of the proceedings is exhausting; there have now been more than 100 days of proceedings, and that raises the question of whether this is justified in terms of costs alone. In conclusion, though, I have to say that all the eleven defendants have been convicted; that makes me happy. The amount of the penalty is at the discretion of the court and has not fully convinced me. But it was a success.

Are we in Germany well positioned to deal with the problem of transnational organised crime?

First and foremost, we need motivated police officers and motivated public prosecutors. That is the most important thing. If you approach proceedings with reservations, you won’t get far. Sometimes you must be a bit brave, try new approaches, and then it works. I don’t have a precise overview of the number of proceedings, but it makes me think when you see how few proceedings are conducted in this area in Germany. Especially because it is always said that there are several hundred mafiosi in Germany. And in our case, we have not even established that they are mafiosi.

How did you motivate your policewomen and police officers? Can the public prosecutor’s office contribute to this?

Of course. But we’ve also had two or three big cases before. We were just lucky to have very, very motivated officers in Rottweil.

How did you experience the defendants in the trial? As men in black suits and sunglasses like in mafia movies?

No! They were more respectful to me than the defence attorneys. One of the defendants was a bit egocentric, but they were normal defendants, as you see them again and again.

Do you think that this trial will be noticed by the other side? I heard there was a convicted mafioso in the audience.

To what extent there is interest, I can’t judge, I don’t know. But I’m sure they will have an interest in the outcome of the trial.

One can assume that they will have an interest in the outcome of the trial. But this war on drugs is not very effective, we are seeing a flood of cocaine in Europe.

I do not think that drugs legalisation is the right answer, simply for health reasons. One can see, particularly among young people, what consequences even soft drugs such as marijuana can have. In some cases, the drug causes terrible psychoses. But I admit to you that there is a lot of drug on the market, it is a fight against windmills.

How could we make this fight more successful?

You must follow the road the Italians followed till now – you must follow the money. That is not happening enough in Germany.  In 2017 some laws were changed; it remains to be seen whether they will be implemented. The tools are there, but we must also use them. And that involves a lot of work. You need motivated prosecutors and it takes a lot of time. And we in the public prosecutor’s office are also measured by statistics. Such an Organised Crime procedure requires a lot of time and personnel. In my trial, for example, the main trial alone involved 100 meetings with two people from my department. Unfortunately, we did not get any additional personnel for the proceedings.  According to the personnel requirement calculation system (Pebb§y), such a procedure costed us 2000 minutes – although it is of course an average value! Many simple procedures such as shoplifting bring more personnel for a public authority and this may explain the relatively few Organised Crime Procedures.

And now everything is over?

We have appealed against the last two rulings and we are waiting for the written reasons. The chamber now has about 6 months to draw up the reasons for the judgement. We will then examine it in terms of appeal, to see whether there are any errors in the sentencing or the assessment of evidence.

Was there any contact between you and the defendants afterwards?

In part I also received positive feedback where I would not have expected it. A defendant from Calabria said goodbye personally. He thanked me for the fairness and told me that if I should take a holiday there, in Calabria, I should visit the family. Which of course I refused. The defendants were more respectful than the defence attorneys. The defence lawyers were more the problem of the trial, it was one of their strategies to wear down the court, which partly succeeded.

If you are talking about the defence lawyers, there was a defence lawyer whose first sentence in the trial could basically be understood as a threat to the witnesses. To sum up, he said: “Anyone who keeps his mouth shut will live to be 100 years old”.

Of course, this can be understood in this way, although I don’t know whether the lawyer understood what he was saying at all. Perhaps he just wanted to show off. Whether this was really a threat, I must leave open. But the fact was that at first there was an absolute silence.

Did you have the feeling that you had enough knowledge about Italian organised crime?

I have learned a lot in this trial, I must honestly say. It was my first big mafia-related narcotics case. No, I went into it relatively recently and only started to deal with it when I made contacts in Italy and the investigation was about the subject.

Do you see a need for action there, for example in political terms? Should prosecutors be trained?

Yes. Especially because of the cross-border aspect of the work. We are now on the way there with the European Public Prosecutor and there is Eurojust as the European coordination body for investigations. But appropriate training and conferences on the subject would certainly be good, and young colleagues should be sent to them. The JIT procedure (Justice Investigation Team) with investigation teams in two or more European countries is an important tool. We have also had two such proceedings in our office. Legal assistance is sometimes very, very formal and time-consuming, which deters many colleagues. They say ”oh, legal assistance is difficult”.  That is the reason why so many colleagues fear the involvement of foreign countries. The JIT simplifies this.

I have noticed in conversations with Italian public prosecutors, that they know much more about criminal structures. Why is that so?

Basically, it is much easier in Germany to arrest a criminal with 5 kilos of drugs than to go into depth and identify structures. Structural investigations take time and we are judged by how many cases we make. That is why few developments like these are made in Germany.

How often did you travel to Italy for this investigation?

I was in Sicily three times. The hospitality of my colleagues there was personally enriching. And after seeing how the Italian policemen work, under what conditions and for how little money, our German policemen noticed for the first time how well they are treated here. Moreover, we learn from each other: the Italian investigators, for example, look much more closely at the profits of criminal business than we do in Germany. In our proceedings, six million euros were seized, most of it in Italy.

What is the special appeal of investigations in the drugs and mafia sector?

You have very direct contact with the police, which brings you closer together. And it’s exciting, even if you can see what’s going on thanks to telecommunications surveillance measures. That’s just very, very interesting.

Do you still have contact to Italy now?

I’m retiring now; four police officers from Italy wanted to come to my retirement party. But because of Coronavirus it didn’t work out. I’m still in contact and once I’m in Sicily, I’ll certainly visit the colleagues.

Do you still watch mafia movies now?

(laughs) Rarely. I don’t even turn on ”Tatort”. That has little to do with reality.


Dr. Joachim Speiermann was born in Rendsburg (Schleswig-Holstein) and is married. He joined the judiciary in 1986 and was a judge in various courts until 2002: the Local Court, the Grand Criminal Chamber and the Court of Aldermen in Constance and Singen. From 1993 to 1996 he was a deputy judge at the University of Constance. In 2002 he joined the Constance Public Prosecutor’s Office, first as head of a general department and from 2014 as deputy head of the authorities and head of the OC and narcotics department.

This article was originally published on Cicero Online – Magazin für politische Kultur

Mafias in Europe

It was 1962 when the American mathematician Edward Lorenz studied and elaborated the so-called “butterfly effect”, probably inspired by “A Sound of Thunder”, a story by Ray Bradbury. The writer of the famous novel “Fahrenheit 451” imagines that, in the future dystopian fixed in 2055, the protagonist, a hunter who, during a “safari in time”, tramples on and kills a butterfly, causing political, social, cultural changes in his present.

Lorenz elaborated mathematically and physically the hypothesis that “a beat of the wings of a seagull would be enough to alter the course of the climate forever”: the seagull, which later became a more romantic butterfly, would cause a shift of matter such as to trigger infinitesimal but decisive changes in reality that could also cause a hurricane to originate in another part of the world.

The more than suggestive Lorenz theory, endowed with a bursting imaginative force, has been the basis for successful scripts such as Donnie Darko and The Butterfly Effect; it has inspired singers and artists and, over time, has served to explain philosophical theories, related to human destiny and environmental theories, related to climate change.

Among the various applications of the concept, interesting is the instrumental use that is often made of the butterfly effect to explain globalization: the global market, wrongly defined as inevitable and part of human evolution, has triggered over time invisible links between places in the world apparently disconnected. A fire in a shoe factory in Thailand, for example, can cause considerable damage to an American-based multinational company, causing its stock market price to drop and affecting employment in the areas of the world where the multinational company operates. The most emblematic example is certainly that of the Great Crisis of 2008: the deregulation of the financial markets allowed incredible – and complicated – speculation by the largest financial players in the United States (Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan among them), especially in the real estate market. When the speculative bubble burst, a domino effect was triggered that led first to the bankruptcy of the world’s largest insurance company (AIG), then to the collapse of the world stock exchange, to the point of affecting the daily lives of billions of people, especially in the poorest and most underdeveloped countries, step by step.

Globalization has allowed us to find Asian or South American products on the shelves of our supermarkets; it has allowed us to know the political controversies of this or that Sub-Saharan country; it has allowed us to connect and create bridges between economic and social realities that are very distant from each other. But as the butterfly effect teaches, each clap of wings corresponds to a hurricane.

One of the many, too many negative and uncontrolled – but not uncontrollable – effects of globalization has been and still is the exponential growth of organized crime: the almost feudal Sicilian Mafia families, the barbaric “ndrine” of the ‘ndrangheta, the Camorra clans have decided to learn English, German, Spanish and have had the ability to cross the Italian and European borders.

For this reason, defining the characteristics of the Italian criminal organizations today is very difficult and complex. Like two-headed Janus, in fact, on the one hand, they are deeply tied to their territories of origin, where they continue to maintain a power deeply tied to the popular consensus; on the other, instead, they have acquired a strong propensity to emigrate and explore beyond the Italian borders in search of the most fertile lands to sow and then reap their criminal fruits.

At this point, it is necessary to open a parenthesis. For decades, the mafias have differentiated their sectors of investment, in search of a giant “washing machine” of their dirty money always in operation. It is fundamental for the mafias to invest as much as possible in legal activities which allow the use of their own dirty money deriving from activities such as the trade of drugs, prostitution, pizzo, and so on. For this reason, to speak of “mafia organization” today means to speak of a real “mafia enterprise”, whose primary purpose is profit, characterized by a renewed ability to blend with the legal market and with agents active in the European and global economic landscape. The mafias earn, invest and risk just like any other company and, given their immense economic capacity, they are comparable to a few multinationals in the world. According to a recent study by the Anti-Mafia Parliamentary Commission, Italian mafias have a turnover (i.e. a sum of revenues) of around EUR 150 billion, more than the first Italian multinational (Exor, which includes Juventus and Fiat, for example, which in 2018 had a turnover of EUR 143 billion).

Capital. Investments. Globalisation. The golden words that characterize the unbridled neo-liberalism, today, are the same words that can be used for the various forms of organized crime, Italian (the ‘ndrangheta above all) and foreign (such as the Mexican and Colombian Narcos and the Russian mafia). And also in this case, the butterfly effect takes its course. As when, in 2007, one of the typical internal feuds of the ‘ndrangheta – the one between the Nirta-Strangio and Pelle-Vottari clans – originated in the Calabrian hinterland, in San Luca, motherland of what is today recognized as the strongest criminal organization in the world and monopolist of the European cocaine market – had its devastating effects on very distant places, geographically and culturally. It is Germany, in fact, the scenario in which, on the day of August 15 of twelve years ago, the internal war between the Calabrian clans was definitively consummated: in Duisburg, a city famous for its steel and its immense river port, in front of the restaurant Da Bruno (one of the many “washing machines” of the ‘ndrangheta), the typical Teutonic silence was broken by the explosion of dozens and dozens of blows. 6 victims, all belonging to the Pelle-Vottari clan, aged between 16 and 39. The two main principals, Giovanni Strangio and Francesco Nirta, were arrested a few years later not in the arid San Luca, not in bunkers well hidden among the sewers of Calabria, not in houses protected by a frightened and silent neighbourhood, but in Holland. The first, in fact, was arrested in Amsterdam, in 2009; the second near Utrecht, in Nieuwegein, in 2013.

A feud in San Luca, a massacre in Duisburg, two arrests in Holland: this is globalisation. Here is the butterfly effect. Faraway stories that intersect, distant countries that become scenarios of the same tragedies, apparently parallel lines that intersect giving rise to twisted mazes. As well as the stories of the last two innocent victims of mafia, Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova, twenty-seven years old Slovaks, engaged, and Antonino Vadalà, born in Bova Marina, in the province of Reggio Calabria, known for years by the Italian authorities. Jan was a brilliant journalist and was working on an investigation into the relationship between ‘ndrangheta and the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, aimed at discovering an immense turnover based on the illegal interception of European funds. Vadalà, already known by Italian investigators for having hidden the drug dealer Domenico “Mico” Ventura, escaped from Bova Marina in Slovakia where he started fervent business activities and acquired more and more power as a referent of the criminal association, establishing relations with the Prime Minister of the country. Jan’s investigations were brutally silenced on February 21, 2018, the day in which he and Martina were killed in their home, but the butterfly effect, this time, led to a hurricane of collective anger and solidarity: Robert Fico, in fact, was forced to resign from the Slovak protests, squares filled as never before since the Velvet Revolution of 1989 to demand loudly new elections.

Immense economic availability (comparable to a few states or multinationals in the world), intercontinental ramifications and permeating capacity in many areas of society: perhaps Marlon Brando, the actor who played the famous Godfather, was right when he said that “the mafia is the best example of capitalism that we have”.

Combating Money Laundering at a local level: the example of Amsterdam

On September 6, 2019 we participated in the conference on money laundering organized by ”Die Linke” at the Bundestag. On this occasion, the speech of Bas ter Luun, Senior Advisor of the Department of Public Order and Safety at the City of Amsterdam, was very interesting.

The Dutch capital – explained ter Luun during his presentation – is a nerve center of illicit drug trafficking. The consumption is also very high in the city, it is estimated that in 2018 was consumed cocaine worth millions of dollars. Drug traffickers can rely on a network of corrupt brokers to help them locate secure apartments and places where they can carry out their trafficking undisturbed.

In addition, a main concern is money laundering, particularly in the real estate sector. In Amsterdam, the proceeds of illicit trafficking are invested in properties, for example in sectors as catering and restaurants, tourism and other attractions that the city offers. Luxury goods are also a popular target for organised crime in the Netherlands.

In this regard, the city administration takes initiatives and measures to combat money laundering. Firstly, it is essential to study the phenomenon in depth. For this purpose, the city of Amsterdam uses cross-referencing data on income and ownership. The combination of fiscal and housing data is then processed. This information allows us to obtain statistical data and analyse the results to see where the accounts do not add up. There may be cases and areas of interest where income data does not match linearly with ownership data. It is in these cases, therefore, that a wake-up call is triggered, and a more in-depth analysis is carried out.

The operational phase, then, involves the screening of subsidies, permits and local real estate transactions. The approach that is carried out is multi-agency, as more actors are involved (Police, tax and customs administration, legal bodies). It is necessary in this phase to establish a fruitful collaboration between the public and private sectors in the contrast of money laundering and housing fraud.

But what can other cities do to face similar problems, become resilient and follow the example of Amsterdam? First, explains ter Luun, it is necessary to raise awareness and create structures of contrast within the public administration. Then you must work together with stakeholders within society. Moreover, the sharing of information and intelligence between the different law enforcement agencies is fundamental. Finally, it is necessary to cooperate with the other European cities to contrast the money laundering.

Ter Luum’s speech was received with great curiosity and in the margins of the conference he granted us a brief interview.

For us was quite new to hear that a city engages someone responsible for money loundering. How did that happen in Amsterdam?

”It all started in the 90s. There was a parliamentary inquiry and part of it was an investigation in the city centre conducted by criminologists. The conclusions showed that many real estates but also other economic sectors like prostitution and coffee shops were owned by organized crime. In addition, the city itself somehow facilitated all that since permits and licences were granted quite easily. That led to the decision by the city administration in the mid ‘90s to invest in qualified personnel to combat money loundering.’’

Is that a common model for the Netherlands or it is limited only to Amsterdam?

‘’It started in Amsterdam, but soon other cities throughout the country followed the model. On a national level there’s a structure that facilitates the cooperation between different government agencies and that strengthen local authorities and mayors to combat organized crime.’’

Are you also working together and cooperating with police forces?

‘’Yes, we exchange information with them. It happens for a screening of applicants for permits, for example. But we also cooperate in the enforcement of the rules. For instance: in the hospitality industry, coffee shops, bars, there are certain rules enforced by the municipality. In these places there could be a commission of crimes. In some cases, the enforcement of the local government and the police work together to conduct the inspections.’’

The Netherlands have a quite liberal drug policy. Is that interfering somehow with money laundering? In a positive or negative way?

‘’Because of the coffee shop system – where you can sell marijuana – a large industry, which is not regulated, could grow. This industry has a lot of proceeds, makes a lot of money and this money must be invested somewhere.’’

Was it complicated to get an overview of money laundering activities in your town?

‘’I don’t think we have the overview yet. It’s really complicated.’’

Are you also lobbying on national policy makers or is this not part of your job?

It can be part of my job to lobby on national policy makers. For example, when we realize that a certain power or instrument doesn’t work well, we need the legislation to be changed. Hence, we show by cases what has to be done.

Do you have also civil society organizations like ours active in that field in Amsterdam?

‘’Not enough in the field of money loundering. From the outcomes of this conference I observed that is something we need also in our country. Anyhow, in the field of human trafficking and prostitution there is cooperation between the NGO’s and the local government.’’

Could you tell us more about the powers of the Dutch mayors and of the local administrations in the Netherlands? Are there in Germany comparable models of tackling money laundering on the municipal level?

‘’The Dutch mayors are responsible for public order and safety. They have the executive power to close houses or to fill restraining orders. That could be maybe comparable to what happens in Germany. What is peculiar of the Dutch mayors and does not apply to Germany or other countries are the screening instruments they have. A mayor can obtain information from the police, from the tax service and then use these instruments.’’

And of course, one question of interest: what are the prevalent organized crime groups in Amsterdam?

The motorcycle gangs are still there. They do not have a top house in the city anymore, since we managed to get rid of it, but they return occasionally on their vehicles. We see also Albanian networks, in relation to drug trafficking. There are also the old Dutch networks which were quite big at the beginning of this millennium. We see also the networks composed by second and third generation of immigrants who now took over all the positions in the drug trafficking. These are the groups, but the situation it’s more fluid.

And what about the Italian organized crime?

”It is present also in Amsterdam. There are some reports about the presence of ‘ndrangheta clans in the Netherlands.”

Record seizure – Europe flooded with cocaine

On 2nd August 2019, customs in Hamburg announced that 4,500 kilograms of cocaine had been confiscated in the port of Hamburg. This is the largest quantity of cocaine ever confiscated in Germany. The cocaine would have generated about 1.4 billion euros on the market. The drug, that came from South America, was very pure, and one gram of that would costs around 80 euros on the street.

The substance came in soy containers and was packed in sports bags. These containers often contain spare locks for the containers. Even before the containers “officially” arrive at the port, they are opened by special service providers on behalf of criminals, the sports bags are removed and the containers are secured again with the replacement locks, which are exact duplicates of the original locks, so that the removal of the bags is not traceable. This time, for some reason, the procedure didn’t work out and customs secured this immense amount of cocaine before criminals could get it. The substance is taken after confiscation and burnt under supervision.

This intercepted record delivery shows once again that Europe is experiencing a cocaine glut. Demand remains high, and the existing global anti-drug policy appears to be ineffective. Every day, the cocaine market ensures that billions of euros fall into the hands of criminal organisations. That is why it is important to combat money laundering effectively, because it is not only drugs that have a harmful effect, but also the financial gain that they generate. It is known that billions are being laundered in German real estate. It is good that the measures against this are being stepped up. It is extremely questionable why payment for real estate with cash is still permitted. This is an invitation to gangsters from all over the world to invest in Germany. However, a comprehensive fight against money laundering is needed. It must be ruled out that valuables such as used and new automobiles, watches, works of art and jewellery can be used for this purpose. Complicated mechanisms of money laundering such as trading in participations in companies and investments in protective financial instruments such as closed-end funds and trust constructions must also be brought to the fore.

Another aspect of cocaine glut that is often overlooked is the consumer side. Even top politicians consume the substance. However, social elites do not buy their drugs on the street market, but in structures such as luxury restaurants and other suitable outlets. These contacts between drug traffickers and such consumers do not favour the pursuit of the structures that supply these clients. For this reason, too, politically independent public prosecutors in Germany would be an important step in the fight against organised crime.

Why such an immense business as the one in Hamburg went wrong can only be speculated about now. New players are currently trying to gain a foothold in global trade. It remains to be seen whether this circumstance has anything to do with the recent record seizure. It will also be interesting to find out which backers are being investigated. Because a seizure alone is not very meaningful in the end.

Operation „Two Seas” – 11 tons of cocaine with an estimate worth of $3.3 billion seized

In the end of last month, the operation „Two Seas” came to a successful end exposing a multicontinental drug trafficking ring. The Colombian, Italian and US collaboration resulted in the seizure of 11 tons of cocaine with an estimate worth of $3.3 billion. The cocaine smuggling operation from Colombia to Europe was allegedly lead by Franco and Giuseppe Cosimo Monteleone who are said to be ‘Ndrangheta members with the help of local organized crime groups:National Liberation Army (ELN) and bandas criminals known as BACRIM. Each of the aforementioned organization was essential on the operational level and had its own role in the smuggling procedure: the former provided security for drug labs and smuggling routes to the latter that controlled the sea departure points where drugs were hidden in shipments of tropical fruit.

European Week for the fight against organized crime 2015 in Brussels

The European Commission is developing into a major player on the fight against mafia and organized crime in Europe. Brussels’ directives made their mark against money laundering. Also final report of CRIM Committee on European organized crime added fuel to the fire. Now, the European Parliament puts in the limelight this problematic matter. As a result of recent increase of interest in this topic, in November 2015 in, under the auspices of the European Parliament „European Week for the fight against organized crime” took place. Our partner organization Cultura Contro Camorra was among the organizers and Mafia? Nein, danke! e.V. was represented by several delegates. Here is a detailed report on the event.