Transnational organised crime in Northern Africa poses a substantial threat to the safety and security of all member countries in the region, and poses a significant challenge to law enforcement agencies. As a result, INTERPOL, under the European Union–funded ENACT Project, has sought to catalogue and assess organised crime in the region to help drive a more strategic law enforcement response.
International criminal organisations target North Africa due to the significant illicit wealth that can be generated from criminal market opportunities throughout the region, notably but not limited to drug trafficking, arms trafficking, human smuggling and trafficking, the counterfeiting of a range of goods, and the illicit traffic of cultural heritage.
Crime syndicates exploit various social issues and take advantage of state fragility and limited law enforcement policing capacities to conceal and develop their activities. In addition, there are a number of additional facilitating factors bolstering organised criminality throughout the region such as the length of the region’s borders with sub-Saharan Africa, the strategic geographic position of the region between sub-Saharan Africa and Europe, the inclusion of North African countries in global trade flows, fragile economies, war profiteering stemming from many of the recent conflicts in the region or its vicinity, as well as corruption to varying degrees.
The threat from organised crime in Northern Africa is therefore substantial, yet often going undetected and underreported, despite various data sources indicating major activities and dynamics of groups and networks active in the region. This mostly stems from limited and unequal capacity amongst law enforcement in the region to manage complex organised crime issues. A greater awareness of the scope and functioning of organised crime in North Africa, nurturing stronger partnerships amongst law enforcement agencies in the region, will contribute to better tackle the threat posed by organised crime.
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