More than 100 of the EU's most threatening criminal networks operate in Belgium

Europol has gathered details about 821 criminal networks posing a significant threat to the European Union. Over 100 of them are active in Belgium. It is the first time that data from all member states and 17 countries outside the EU have been brought together.

In a report published today, the European Union’s law enforcement agency Europol has mapped out ‘the most criminal networks’. The analysis shows how these groups are organised, which criminal activities they engage in, and how and where they operate. The agency hopes that the report will help law enforcement and policymakers in effectively prioritising resources and guiding policy action. 

All 27 members of the European Union and 17 of Europol’s partner countries contributed to the study. The report is one of the main achievements of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, reflecting its commitment to fighting organised crime. “We are introducing a new tool in the battle against serious and organised crime - a testament to the power of unity and innovation within the European Union”, Belgian Minister of Home Affairs Annelies Verlinden said during a press conference earlier today. 

According to the report, 100 of the 821 identified networks are active in Belgium. They mainly engage in drug trafficking. There are also groups involved in (online) fraud, migrant smuggling, money laundering and sham marriages. The members of these networks active in Belgium have different nationalities. The key figures are often Belgian and Dutch, but they work closely with people from Albania, other Western Balkan countries, Turkey, Morocco and beyond.


Europol's Catherine De Bolle, flanked by Belgian federal ministers Annelies Verlinden and Paul van Tigchelt, presents the report on criminal networks ​ © Belga Photo Hatim Kaghat

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