Crime in Germany
Crime in Germany is combated by the German Police and other agencies.
European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC)
Share of population experiencing|
crime, violence or vandalism in their living area
|Source: EU-SILC and Statistics Sweden|
In the EU-SILC survey, respondents were questioned about whether they experienced problems with violence, crime, or vandalism in the area where they live. Between 2010 and 2017, the EU crime average dropped by 3%. All countries in the EU except Germany, Sweden, and Lithuania showed a falling trend of criminal incidents.
Statistically speaking, crime in Germany has always been a problem; However, the crime rate did decrease in 2018; However, the Interior Ministry has advised that the numbers that were provided that show that the crime rate had decreased by 3.6% from 2017 do not include unreported crimes.
According to the numbers of the crimes that were reported in 2018 – the following statistics were recorded as decreased from 2017: home burglaries and robberies are at an all-time low and sexual related crime such as rape is down by an astonishing 18%;
Alternately, some of the crime rate had significant increases. These types of crimes include the following: Child porn related charges increased by 13.6%; Drug charges increased by roughly 6% and crimes against police officials were up an alarming 36%.
While the crime rate is falling in Germany – the consensus of the general population has advised that they do not feel protected or safe in their communities. As a result of this uneasiness – the community has developed no go areas; these are identified by the local people as areas where high amounts of crimes tend to occur.
Ironically, while Germany seemed to have increased crime rates over the last decade – it seems that the rates have continued to remain at an all-time low going into 2019. Especially when it is concerning international studies (exchange students) – Germany has been deemed to be one of the safest countries in the world.
While there have been several very public displays of violence within Germany recently – the number compared to that of which it was ten years ago is drastically lower. The locals in Germany do not believe that these acts of violence that are randomly coming to light are so random; The Germans are looking to their government to take responsibility for these acts and to protect the community.
Another statistic that must be considered is that it is not in fact the Germany population that is committing the crimes – instead it is the people traveling within the country that are causing the spike in the crime rates that the world is seeing. Although, there is not much evidence to back up this concept; in most cases when an individual was fleeing to deter or get away from a crisis situation – they were noted to be less likely to commit a crime than a local or a migrant that was coming from a non-crisis situation.
With the number of crimes on the decline Germany is relieved – but certainly not ready to let their guard down; They are going to continue to implement preventative measures to ensure that they are protecting their citizens whatever the cost. As for the general population – it is safe to say that this is something that they have become accustomed to and they are taking preventative steps to ensure that they are on guard whatever the cost.
The diligence that is being implemented and the statistics are both factors that show that the crime rate has slowed. Hopefully, this is a trend that Germany continues to set.
According to Germany's 2010 crime statistics, 5.93 million criminal acts were committed, which was 2% lower than in 2009. According to the Interior Ministry, this was the first time the figure had fallen below six million offenses since 1991 (the year after reunification), and is the lowest crime level since records began. The rate of crimes solved in 2010 was 56%, a record high from 2009's 55.6%.
According to 2015 statistics, there were 127,000 victims of domestic violence. (German: Häusliche Gewalt) 82% of the victims were female. This represented an increase of 5.5% over 2012 statistics. The most commonly reported crime was bodily harm, defined as a slap or a strike of sufficient force to warrant prosecution. Other common crimes were threats (14.4%), grievous bodily harm (German: schwere Körperverletzung), and injury with a deadly outcome (German: Verletzung mit Todesfolge) at 12%. A fourth of the suspects were reported to be intoxicated from the consumption of alcohol.
Ex-partner victims were mostly targeted by stalking.
|Number of suspects in organized crime in Germany|
In the 1990s, the power balance changed in the red light districts of Germany when Russian, Yugoslav, Albanian and Kurds started to operate. In parts of Germany, police asked themselves whether they had suppressed German gangs too much as the gangs that took over were foreign and more brutal gangs.
In 2017, statistics suggested that German citizens constitute the largest group of suspects in organized crime trials. From 2016 to 2017, the proportion of non-German citizen organized crime suspects increased from 67.5% to 70.7%. 14.9% of the German citizens involved held different citizenship at birth.
Die Welt reported in 2016 that Berlin and Bremen have significant problems with organized crime in the form of "Arab Families", of which seven to nine are criminally conspicuous and today "dominate the bulk of organized crime." In another article, Die Welt claimed that prostitutes in the Schöneberg neighborhood are controlled by one family, with German pimps paying them protection money.
Italian organized crime
The 'Ndrangheta, Camorra, and Cosa Nostra all operate in Germany. The 'Ndrangheta has the most robust presence. There are an estimated 1,200 members of the 'Ndrangheta active in Germany, mostly in the cocaine trade. Apart from the 'Ndrangheta, the Neapolitan Camorra has also infiltrated the construction industry in Germany. Five Sicilian Mafia groups are active in the country, but seem to have lost power. Italian crime groups can mostly be found in the Ruhr district and in the west of Germany.
In December 2018, German police conducted an operation against the 'Ndrangheta in Germany and arrested 90 suspects for suspected drug dealing and money laundering. Forty-seven suspects were prosecuted.
Outlaw motorcycle gangs
OMCGs such as Hells Angels, Bandidos, Gremium and more recently, Satudarah and Night Wolves, are active throughout Germany. While not all members of motorcycle clubs are criminals, many are reputed to be involved in the red-light districts and the bouncer-scene, who control a large portion of the drug trade within bars and clubs.
Balkan crime gangs
People from the Balkans have strong connections to their home country where they can go underground when they want to evade police. Mafia gangs from Serbia, Kosovo, Croatia, and Albania have close-knit structures similar to those of the Arab clans. Gangs from Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro have a strong tendency to use violence and according to police, they are not discouraged by ordinary police as they have fought in the Yugoslav Wars. Gangs from the Balkans are active in illegal gambling, protection rackets, narcotics trade and human trafficking. The Yugoslav wars also mean these gangs have access to firearms, where 700 thousand weapons were stolen in Albania alone.
"Ethnic Albanians" (as the German police officially calls them), who come into Germany typically from Albania or the Republic of Macedonia or Kosovo, have created for a very short time in the last decade, a very powerful criminal network, says Manfred Quedzuweit, director of the Police Department for Fighting the Organized Crime in Hamburg. "Here, it could be heard that they are even more dangerous than Cosa Nostra. Albanian "banks" in Germany are a special story. They are used for transferring money from Germany, which amounts to one billion Euros a year.
One of these banks was discovered by accident by the Düsseldorf police while checking a travel agency "Eulinda" owned by the Albanians. "We haven't found a single travel-related catalog or brochure at the agency. The computers were nonfunctional, the printer had never been used. We found that "Eulinda" was a coverup for some other business", said high criminal counselor from Düsseldorf Rainer Bruckert. "Eventually we found out that "Eulinda" had already transferred $150 million to Kosovo—for 'humanitarian purposes'", says Bruckert. "Money was being transferred by the couriers in special waist belts with multiple pockets. So, in a single one-way trip, it was possible to carry up to six million D-marks."
BND reports state that Albanian mafia activities are thoroughly spread throughout Germany. One mafia family in Hamburg, for instance, according to BND reports, has over "300 million euros in real estate portfolios". Further, the clan has considerable ties to police, judges, and prosecutors in Hamburg.
According to British criminal Colin Blaney in his autobiography 'Undesirables', Albanian criminals in Germany also frequently come to blows with British criminals who operate in the nation. Albanian people traffickers have been involved in confrontations with an English organized crime group known as the Wide Awake Firm, including an incident in which a member of the English group was stabbed through the hand.
The Zemun clan is active in Germany and mainly involved in drug trafficking and prostitution. Members are largely ethnic Serbs, some of them former soldiers, but Montenegrins and Bosniaks from the Serbian region of Sandzak are part of the ex-Yugoslavian gangs as well.
Russian-speaking crime groups, in particular, the Tambov gang are active in cities such as Düsseldorf. Money laundering, prostitution and extortion seem to be their activities of choice. Russian criminal activity doesn't only concern ethnic Russians but also Russian Jews which was evident with the arrest of Mikhail Rabo, a senior member of the Jewish community in Berlin and a high-ranking member of the Tambov gang. Aside from the Russian groups, Georgian, Armenia and Chechen crime groups are active in Germany as well. Very often these gangs and the Russian groups are named together in one breath even when they have little to do with each other.
Another major form of Russian-speaking organized crime in Germany consists of so-called criminal Aussiedler families. Aussiedlers are ethnic Germans (also called Volga Germans) that were born in the former Soviet Union. While a lot of Aussiedlers adapted well and quickly mastered the German language, a lot of families held onto the traditional lifestyle they lived in Russia and surrounding states. This led to the formation of individual as well as clan-based groups of Aussiedlers involved in organized criminal activities such as drug trafficking, extortion, prostitution, as well as extreme violence. Due to a large number of Aussiedlers they are seen as the major form of Russian organized crime in Germany.
Turkish crime groups which consist of ethnic Turks, Laz and Kurds from Turkey are active throughout Germany in extortion, weapon trafficking and drug trafficking. Often the gangs can be linked to political groups from their home country, such as the Grey Wolves for right-wing Turks and Dev Sol for left-wing Turks and Kurds.
In 2014, the annual report on organized crime presented in Berlin by interior minister Thomas de Maizière, showed that there were 57 Turkish and 4 Kurdish gangs in Germany. According to the report, alongside their more traditional fields of drug smuggling, gangs are also increasingly turning their attention to burglary, car theft, and fraud. 10% of Germany's gang members were reported to be Turkish and according to statistics, the activity of Turkish gangs in Germany had decreased.
In 2016, Die Welt and Bild reported that the new Turkish motorbike gang, Osmanien Germania, was growing rapidly. The Hannoversche Allgemeine newspaper claimed that the Osmanien Germania was advancing more and more into the red-light districts, which increases the likelihood of a bloody territorial battle with established gangs like the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and the Mongols Motorcycle Club.
Middle Eastern crime clans
Middle Eastern crime clans have become a major player in the underworld of Germany since the mass emigration of large Middle Eastern families, also called Großfamilie. Especially in cities such as Berlin, Hamburg, and Bremen Middle Eastern clans are highly active in heroin trafficking as well as being involved in the bouncer-scene. Middle Eastern crime families mostly have origins in Lebanon, Afghanistan (mainly in Hamburg) and Morocco (mostly in Frankfurt).
According to a research conducted by the Abba Eban Institute as part of an initiative called Janus Initiative, Hezbollah has built up its own international drug trafficking and money laundering network, with mafia-like structures. The research is focusing on the ties between organized crime and Hezbollah and found clans in Germany that are specifically supporting Hezbollah. According to the Abba Eban Institute, members of the three Shiite extended families Chahrour, Berjawi and Balhas are based in Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia, and are deeply involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.
Lebanese clans are active in drug trafficking, including Afghan heroin, cocaine, hashish and methamphetamine, weapon trafficking, extortion, prostitution and loan sharking. The main center of Lebanese organized crime in Germany is Berlin, with other clans spread throughout Bremen and Essen.
Afghan clans (often of Pashtun background) are active in Hamburg, a city with a large Afghan population. Like the Turkish and Turkish-Kurdish as well as Albanian gangs in the city, Afghan organized crime is active in hashish and heroin trafficking, extortion and prostitution.
Moroccan organized crime groups, often of Riffian descent, on the other hand, have been reported in Frankfurt. Next to the Serbian mafia and Balkan gangs, the Moroccan organized crime has become one of the active main players in the Frankfurt underworld for heroin trade as well as other criminal activities. As of 2018, there had been many incidents of young male North African asylum seekers committing rapes and robberies.
Transparency International’s Global corruption barometer 2013 revealed that political parties and businesses are the most corrupt institutions in Germany. The same report also indicated that petty corruption is not as uncommon as other European countries. The survey showed that 11% of the respondents claim to have been asked to pay a bribe at one point in their life and only a few of those said that they had refused to pay the bribe.
In 2018, the Wall Street Journal analyzed German crime statistics for crime suspects and found that the foreigners, overall 12.8% of the population, make up a disproportionate share of crime suspects (34.7%), see horizontal bar chart.
According to the Huntington Post in February 2018, out of each of the 15 state justice ministries, 12,300 Muslims are in prison. This constitutes about 20% of the 65,000 prison population in Germany, proving to be an over-representation. The highest shares are in city states of Bremen (29%), Hamburg (28%) but the share is high also in large states such as Hessen (26%) Baden-Württemberg (26%). The share is lower in the former East Germany.
In 2018, the interior ministry published an analysis of the Federal Police Statistic (PKS) for the first time, which included all the people who came via the asylum system into Germany. The report found that the group defined as immigrants, which constitutes 2% of the total population, makes up 8.5% of all crime suspects.
Crimes such as drug trafficking, weapon trafficking, extortion, prostitution, money laundering and contract killing are mostly present in poorly maintained areas of urban centers such as Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Duisburg, Cologne or Düsseldorf.
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