Organised crime on the rise in Spain

by Lorraine Williamson
organised crime

Spain ranks fifth in Europe in the organised crime index, two places higher than the previous ranking (2021), according to data from the NGO Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime.  

The index, which includes data collected between 2021 and 2023 on the 193 member states of the UN, points to an increase of 0.13 points in Spain. With this, Spain finishes with a 5.90. Ukraine, Italy, Serbia and Montenegro still come ahead of Spain within Europe. Organised crime is also higher in Russia. 

The cause of the rise 

This rise in the rankings is explained by the increase in financial crime and cybercrime among illegal markets monitored by the organisation. These include human trafficking, trade in counterfeit goods and drug trafficking.  

‘Financial fraud has become a major activity of organised crime in Spain and online scams also account for a large proportion of all reported crimes,’ explained Laura Adal, analyst at the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime.  

‘Criminal organisations use identity theft to carry out large-scale credit card fraud, as well as pyramid schemes to lure minors with promises of access to easy money through fake trading schemes,’ she added.  

Also read: One of the most common fraud scams is “carding”

Most committed crimes 

When it comes to the most committed crimes, southern Europe has seen an increase in drug trafficking since 2021. Italy is the only country above Spain as the main trafficking centre in the European Union.  

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Experts assessing Spain’s organised crime and resilience in the index say this is due to its strategic location, which has made it a transit port.  

On the other hand, financial crime has overtaken human trafficking as the most widespread criminal market in Europe in 2022. This includes Spain, where this type of crime ranks second. 

Resilience in Spain slightly up 

Spanish society’s resilience to organised crime has increased by 0.13 points to 6.75 out of 10 over the past two years, but its strength is being tested by the rise in financial crime and cybercrime.  

Spain is categorised in the index as a ‘high crime-high resilience’ country because it has improved its defences against organised crime.  

Adal argued that certain countries with large economies and highly developed trade infrastructure can be ‘inherently vulnerable’ to organised crime because of the opportunities they offer criminals. ‘In these countries, crime rates would be even higher without the resilience measures already in place,’ he said.  

The indicators used to calculate each country’s resilience are based on aspects such as political leadership, government transparency, international cooperation and the functioning of the legal system. 

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