Transnational Organized Crime in Spain: Structural Factors Explaining its Penetration

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DOI: 10.4324/9780429453861-5
In book: Global Organized Crime and International Security, pp.47-62
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  • ... The presence of organised crime in Spain is not limited to recent decades, since gangs and organised smugglers have operated in the country throughout history (Resa Nestares, 2001). But Spanish OCGs are now able to create alliances with foreign criminal groups, and this has enabled them to increase their activities in diverse illegal markets (Castro Moral & Jiménez, 2010). ...
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    Illegal markets in Spain are important sources of proceeds for the economy of the organised crime groups (OCGs) active in the country, and a significant matter of concern for Spanish society (Lopez, 2012). The presence of organised crime in Spain is not limited to recent decades, since gangs and organised smugglers have operated in the country throughout history (Resa Nestares, 2001). But Spanish OCGs are now able to create alliances with foreign criminal groups, and this has enabled them to increase their activities in diverse illegal markets (Castro Moral & Jiménez, 2010). This situation requires the application of specialized measures in order to reduce the extent of illegal activities involving organised crime (Gimenez-Salinas, 2010). During 2010, the Spanish Presidency promoted a series of measures in the short to medium term to develop effective strategies against organised crime (Ministerio del Interior & CICO, 2013), while a wide array of agencies and legal instruments have been introduced (see below). However, despite the importance of this phenomenon, it has not been extensively addressed by academic research in Spain, which in most cases is restricted to theoretical explanations rather than the conduct of empirical studies (see Section 8.6 for a literature review). The lack of data and restrictions on access to official statistics on organised crime cases may explain the lack of empirical studies and impede research on organised crime in Spain.
  • ... Esta situación se agrava en la concepción de que en el negocio criminal más lucrativo, el tráfico de drogas, los países productores se encuentran muy alejados de los lugares de consumo, aunque la distancia tiende a reducirse e incluso desaparecer con el incremento de la utilización de drogas sintéticas. De una forma simbiótica (Lupsha 1996), las organizaciones delictivas han combinado la explotación de las oportunidades y las rutas de negocio que ha abierto el mercado internacional con los pasos históricos del contrabando que se mostraron muy resistentes a la irrupción del estado, generando así una muy lucrativa mezcla de viejas y las nuevas actividades ilícitas en las que la especialización y la ampliación de mercados parecen no ser tendencias contradictorias (Resa 1999). No es casual, en este sentido, que las actividades, e incluso los abusos, realizados por las grandes multinacionales, que no cuentan con un control internacional por la falta de consenso al respecto y una búsqueda de competitividad cada vez más intensa, suponen un precedente habitual para la introduc- ción de la delincuencia organizada (Savona y Mezzanotte 1996). ...
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    La delincuencia organizada transnacional no sólo refleja el deterioro generalizado y la reorganización de la autoridad gubernamental al final de milenio sino que refuerza esta tendencia de forma cada vez más directa. La amenaza latente durante años de la delincuencia organizada tiene visos de convertirse en una parte substantiva de los peligros para la estabilidad política, social y económica de los estados, sobre todo si se tiene en cuenta su enorme potencial económico. Esta era reciente de la delincuencia organizada ha corrido paralela a, y ha sido propiciada por, las nuevas pautas de comercio a nivel internacional y por los avances de las comunicaciones y el transporte que se conocen globalmente con el nombre de mundialización. Ya no se trataría, como en periodos anteriores, del contrabando tradicional, de evitar los aranceles, sino de construir organizaciones con un género de información y presencia por todo el mundo que permita el aprovechamiento de cualquier resquicio para el negocio ilegal. Aunque no existe una única organización delictiva monolítica, puesto que se aprecia una división sectorial y territorial entre los grandes grupos criminales, es innegable que el problema reviste un carácter mundial y que ningún estado ni ninguna región es inmune a él. Si existe algo parecido a un mercado del crimen, sin lugar a dudas hoy su dimensión es mundial.
  • ... The craggy and rugged coastal of Galicia helped tobacco-smugglers and traffickers to develop certain structure in late 70s. This opportunity was seized by Colombian organized crime to introduce cocaine into Europe through this area of Spain, see[15]and[29]for more details. In a police operation, a 13 metre sailboat was intercepted and seized with 600 of cocaine aboard. ...
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    The research is focused on the factors that underlie criminal activity, based on macro and micro opportunities, and that drive organized crime to/from a region or market. The correlation between tax havens and illegal trafficking routes, the impact of corruption and the rule of law, and the instruments to tackle organized crime is also addressed. A review to the Asset Recovery Offices in Europe is provided along with the different confiscation procedures available across Europe. Finally, the Spanish case study is presented along with several examples of social reuse of confiscated assets.
  • ... Nestares, a research professor with a special emphasis on drug trafficking who is teaching at the University of Madrid (also a member of the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime), found that although the PGR is rather good at dismantling organizations, it fails miserably in securing important intelligence that other Mexican government agencies, including the Army, could use to make bigger gains (Resa-Nestares, 1999). ...
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    Spanish institutions have been developing new methods in order to be more efficient in terms of data management (see Section 8.6 and 10.8). The present chapter will focus on the analysis of data regarding different aspects of the confiscation of assets in Spain. Criminal assets recovery and management is implemented by different governmental institutions. The Intelligence Centre against Organised Crime (CICO) (see Section 10.8) and the Special Anti-Drug Prosecution Office (Fiscalia Special Anti Drogas) have been designated as the Spanish contact points for asset recovery (Palomo et al., 2009). At present, Spain has not yet officially designated an asset recovery office. The Plan Nacional sobre Drogas (PNSD) was created to manage confiscated assets related to the illicit traffic of drugs and money laundering in relation to drug trafficking offenses, and it could be considered an Asset Management Office for assets of these types.
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    The Spanish legal system has undergone major changes in relation to the aspect of confiscated assets. Prior to 2010, it was not possible to apply the civil recovery of assets to criminals. Also, there was no specialised asset recovery law designed to better tackle proceeds of criminals. The organic law 5/2010, of 22nd of June transposes the RU Council Framework Decision 2005/212/JHA, of 24th February on Confiscation of Crime-Related Proceeds, Instrumentalities and Property. The current regulation on confiscation is mainly covered by Article 127 of the Spanish Criminal Code. This article allows judges and courts to order the confiscation of the proceeds of a crime, including goods, means and tools used to commit it. The early realization of seized assets is, in some cases, regulated by the Articles 367 bis et seq. of the Spanish Criminal Procedure Code.
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    According to the available evidence, Spain is emerging as a major location for investments in the legitimate economy by a wide number and range of criminal groups. This phenomenon seems to be of significant importance in the Spanish public debate and on the political agenda, and aligned with the international concern regarding the increasing threat that organised crime groups represents to the EU. The Spanish government has recently implemented measures to fight this phenomenon. In this regard, over the past few years law enforcement action against organised crime, drug trafficking, and money laundering has reduced Spain's attractiveness as an entry point. As a result of implementation of the Organic Law 5/2010, the number of cases in which confiscation is allowed without a criminal conviction being necessary has been extended. Moreover, the most important measure against organised crime investments has been the regulation on extended confiscation included in the Spanish Criminal Code in recent years. As regards information technology, the development in 2004 of a Unified Index (centralized database) system has enhanced the involvement of notaries in the AML-CFT regime. Several governmental efforts have been recently made to combat money-laundering practices as well as to tackle Spain's submerged economy. In 2012, a new anti-fraud law was enacted to limit cash transactions between businesses and professionals to 2,500 euro. Moreover, the creation of the 'Financial Ownership File', in order to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing, established the obligation of conducting periodic reviews on Spanish credit institutions. Together with regulatory developments, new police units as well as coordinating agencies have been created in order to fight organised crime and money laundering. Today, Spain is considered to be one of the European countries in which the incidence of organised crime is most significant, and this applies also in terms of criminal investments and infiltration of the legal economy.
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    This chapter focuses on two gangster thrillers that address the presence of organized crime within Spanish society: La caja 507/Box 507 and El nino/The Kid. Both films draw a correlation between the porous border space Spain/Gibraltar/North Africa, real estate speculation, and corrupt politics in contemporary Spain. The chapter dwells on the rampant real estate speculation in late 1990s and early 2000s Spain and its relationship with political corruption. It analyzes the interpenetration of organized mafias on the Mediterranean coast in the last two decades and their intense activities in Spain–understood as the gateway to Europe. The chapter explores how these films define the Mediterranean coast and Gibraltar–a border space where illegality is common currency–as a transnational space where organized crime and institutional corruption go hand in hand. El nino, on its part, focuses on drug trafficking between North Africa and Spain–and thus Europe–positioning the economically and socially unprivileged.
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    This paper provides a systematic overview of the emergence of organized crime in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland since the late 1960s. It draws on two major studies of organized crime in the South (Hourigan 2011) and paramilitary activity in the North (Morrison 2014) to explore how conflict within and between organized criminal and paramilitary groups, shapes the distinctive dynamic of organized crime on the island of Ireland. The paper opens with an overview of the development of the drugs trade in the Republic of Ireland. The distinctive cultural characteristics of Irish organized crime groups are considered and the role played by paramilitary groups in criminal networks, North and South, is reviewed. As part of this analysis, the dynamic of inter-gang feuds and the spectrum of conflicts between organized criminal and paramilitary groups are analyzed. The competitive and mutually beneficial links between these organizations, North and South are explored as well as the tendency of paramilitaries to engage in vigilantism against criminals (mostly drugs dealers) as a means of building political capital within local communities.
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    Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Mexican cartels’ leadership was nationalistic and entrepreneurial, focusing their efforts specifically on the profitable U.S. drug consumption market. Their goal was to subvert the Mexican state, not challenge it. Today the various Mexican cartels appear to be headless, bereft of any leadership or led by thugs who have no allegiances and have begun focusing their enterprises on the increasing national drug consumption demand. This has caused anarchy within the different cartels’ ranks and among potential smaller competitors vying for territorial control resulting in an unprecedented escalation of drug-related violence that qualifies as narcoterrorism. The Mexican state is challenged directly for control over the legitimate use of force and seems unable to rein in the uncontrolled level of violence. Why? The following analysis discusses politicoeconomic as well as psychosocial factors that explain the evolution of these violent trends in Mexico, whose society demands an end to state corruption and a firm plan to ensure citizen security.
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    Spain is not a country that we traditionally associate with organized crime, yet this article will show that there are a myriad of organized crime groups active there, engaging in a whole range of illicit activities. Therefore, after having demonstrated the scale and severity of the problem, the article will consider, assess and analyze the factors that facilitate it. Fundamentally, the article will argue that, although Spain possesses a number of characteristics that make it an ideal environment for these kinds of groups and activities, we should also consider various weaknesses and inefficiencies that are present in some of Spain's institutions and systems, if we are to gain a more comprehensive understanding of why organized crime is so prolific there.
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    The Australian Institute of Criminology has produced a diverse range of studies on illicit markets, including those in drugs, diamonds, stolen vehicle parts, abalone, plastic payment cards and antiquities. This paper draws together information on one aspect that these markets have in common— networks of transportation. In view of the common structure of these networks for transporting and distributing illicit goods, and the common nature of the skills required to successfully operate underground trading links, this paper questions whether the same personnel are involved in the movement of all or some of these goods and, if so, what implications this might have for crime prevention and detection initiatives.
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    Over the last 35 years, the acclaimed American political economist, Thomas C. Schelling, has asserted his belief that organized crime is purely monopoly enterprise. His definition of the phenomenon remains highly influential and continues to form the basis of many definitions of organized crime today. This article outlines Schelling's economic definition of organized crime and then applies it to an analysis of the major organized crime groups operating in the states of the European Union. It concludes that a purely economic definition is inadequate to define organized crime in Europe in the twenty-first century and that, in order to understand the phenomenon fully, other variables need to be introduced and appreciated.
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