BRUSSELS : The EU is confronted with very dangerous criminal gangs, whose bosses issue orders from as far as Dubai or South America, Europol said Friday in a comprehensive report.

The organisations mostly dealing in drugs, especially cocaine - have not only spread their tentacles into front businesses such as property, construction, trucking and nightclubs, but also are threatening or bribing prosecutors and judges, it said.

Authorities said they intend to crack down on the criminal web by mapping it out and enhancing law enforcement coordination across the 27-member block.

'' The message to the most threatening criminal networks is you can't hide anymore,'' Europe chief Catherine De Bolle said as she presented the report in Brussels.

Belgium's interior minister, Annelies Verlinden, added : '' We are not just sharing findings, we are signalling a new era in our fight against organised crime, an era marked by innovation, collaboration and steadfast commitment to ensuring the safety and security of the European Union and its citizens.''

The 51-page report by the Hague-based law agency gives a first-ever in-depth analysis of the criminal challenge EU law enforcement faces.

The majority of  Europe's most dangerous gangs focused on drug smuggling - cocaine, cannabis, heroin and synthetic drugs - and operations were most often located in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain.

Other activities were extortion, racketeering and migrant - and gun smuggling.

The organisations, which notably target workers in Europe ports for corruption, '' are agile, borderless, controlling and destructive,''  Dr Bolle said.

While they often conducted just a few core illicit activities in a geographic area, they usually had a mix of nationalities in their membership. [AFP]


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