Newsbriefing – Week of 21 October

In its 2019 report on cybercrime, Europol highlights that cybercriminals are becoming bolder and more innovative to circumvent law enforcement and maximize profits. One new prominent practice is crypto ransomware, targeting private organisations using phishing emails. Europol identifies crypto ransomware as the top priority threat facing European Law enforcement officials.

The British government invests in waste tracking to fight waste crime. Illegal waste activity costs the UK around 600 million pounds every year. Organised crime groups involved in waste disposal mislabel waste to avoid landfill tax or illegally export waste.

Bolivian President Evo Morales has been re-elected despite disputed results and street protests. Claims of election fraud were made by his opponent and the Organization of American States (OAS) after the count was interrupted for 24 hours. Morales rejected criticism over the legitimacy of his election and accused the opposition of fomenting a coup against him.

Berlin local authorities point out the growing number of drug home delivery by so called “cocaine taxis.” Law officials opened 35 new investigations between May and October 2019 alone.

The head of the Philippines national police force stepped down amid allegations he protected police officers involved in drug trafficking. The former police chief led President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs during which thousands of alleged drug suspects have died in controversial operations since 2016.

State authorities in Florida seized 600 turtles and arrested 2 men involved in illegal wildlife trafficking. The suspects poached and sold over 4,000 native turtles over the last 6 months, shipping them overseas to be sold on the black market.

British authorities are investigating the death of 39 people inside a refrigerated truck near London. The vehicle came from Belgium which has become an important point of departure for people-smuggling into the UK after the closure of the migrant camp in Calais, France. The NCA is investigating the potential role of organised crime groups involved in the worst people-smuggling tragedy in the UK since 2000, when 58 Chinese-nationals were found dead in a truck at the port of Dover.

A new international study mapping drug use by analysing the wastewater of 120 cities worldwide between 2011 and 2017 shows cocaine use increased by nearly 13% over five years, with London, Bristol, Amsterdam, Zurich and Geneva having the highest levels recorded. The Netherlands recorded the highest amounts of amphetamine and extasy.

Authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina have seized over 300 kilos of cannabis worth around 2 million euros. The drug was found in the southern town of Capljina.

South Africa Economy’s Minister announced new study on illicit tobacco trade. The country looses around 20% of its GDP to the underground economy which is in part operated by organized crime. The main culprits are tobacco smuggling, counterfeit textiles, drug manufacturing, illicit mining and poaching. The proceeds are generally used to fund drug smuggling and human trafficking.