Russian Mafia second only to Arab families in Germany
Last year, the German police conducted 26 investigations into crimes committed by the Russian Mafia, which is three cases fewer than a year before that.
“Russian Mafia" is an unofficial term in Germany that journalists use for the sake of clarity and simplicity, while the corresponding chapter in the 2018 official report of the Federal Criminal Office (BKA) on the state of affairs with organized crime groups in Germany is titled “Russian-Eurasian Organized Crime”. The report was presented at a press conference in Berlin on September 24 by German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and BKA Director Holger Münch, DW notes.
The common denominator by which organized criminal groups operating in the FRG are listed in said chapter is the language of their communication, Russian. The distinguishing features of the groups are vor traditions and a common fund, or "obtschak" that they have. "Obtschak" is a "thieves' box office", the authors explain to readers.
According to the BKA report, the groups “are dominated by people born in one of the post-Soviet countries”, as well as “those born outside the post-Soviet countries, but feeling a sense of belonging to the culture, history, language, traditions and ancestors of one of the post-Soviet countries. "
The report lists all 15 republics of the former USSR. The German police classify people hailing from them as the Russian Mafia, but it is also specifically stipulated that gang members from among Russian immigrants are also included in this category.
Last year, the German police conducted 26 investigations into crimes committed by the Russian Mafia, which is three cases fewer than a year before that. That is almost five percent of all cases instituted in Germany under articles related to organized crime.
In seven of the cases, gang leaders were Russian citizens, in four cases Armenians, and in four others Georgians. Immigrants from Moldova, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine are less represented in the German organized crime. The key types of crime are theft of expensive cars, drug trafficking, racketeering, cybercrime, financial fraud and human smuggling.
Chechen organized crime groups operating in Germany, or, more precisely, the gangs in which they dominate, are placed in a separate group in the chapter “Russian-Eurasian Organized Crime” of said BKA report. In 2018, eight criminal cases were opened against such groups, seven of them on suspicion of racketeering with the use of violence. "Chechen criminal groups are characterized by their temper and a disproportionate tendency to violence; three cases were associated with murders or attempted murders."
Chechens and immigrants from other republics of the North Caucasus are among those whom the German law enforcement agencies consider particularly dangerous Islamists, who might commit a terrorist attack. Are there any links between Chechen organized crime groups and Chechen jihadists?
When responding to the question by a DW correspondent, Holger Münch stated that last year, four lawsuits revealed contacts between organized crime groups and persons from the sphere of politically motivated or Islamist crime. The director of BKA, however, was not sure that there were Chechen crime groups among them. In any case, Münch emphasized, those were contacts at the personal acquaintance level. According to him, there is no structural relationship between the two.
The number of cases filed against the Russian Mafia is 26, which is only one case fewer than the number of cases initiated against the criminal clans of immigrants from Arab countries and Turkey. BKA places such clans under the general Arab-Turkish category. The Italian Mafia, by comparison, was featured in 13 cases.
In general, the situation with organized crime in Germany remained almost unchanged in 2018. In total, 535 mafia-related cases were instituted (against 572 in 2017). The number of suspects, however, has decreased considerably, from 8317 to 6483 people, but the material damage caused by the organized crime group has skyrocketed from 209 million euros to 691 million euros.
31.2% of those involved in organized crime were Germans, 66.1% were foreigners with clearly established citizenship. The citizenship of the remaining 2.7% could not be determined.