Thursday, 28 September 2023
The island of Cyprus is ranked 29th in the European organised crime index and 6th in the ranking for Southern Europe according to the Global Organised Crime Index 2023 Report, however, it is the TRNC which contribute the most to this statistic, Yeniduzen reports.
The index created by the International Organised Crime Initiative also stated that Turkey was ranked first.
Cyprus, whose score has become worse compared to 2021, ranks 129th out of 193 countries in the world.
Myanmar is at the top of the Global Organised Crime Index with 8.15 points. Then comes Colombia and Mexico. Iran ranks 14th again with the same score as Turkey. Russia is in 19th place with 6.87 points.
When examining the details of the report, it is seen that the score of the island of Cyprus is low; It is stated that crimes such as human trafficking, sex work, arms smuggling, fuel smuggling, drugs, criminal actors and money laundering originate from the north of Cyprus, that is to say, the TRNC.
According to the report, Cyprus has become a prime centre in human trafficking networks going to Europe with its developing human trafficking market.
The report states that sexual abuse is especially common during the tourism season and says, “Victims are forced to have sexual intercourse with customers while working in bars, massage parlors, hotels, private apartments and commercial sex venues.” Young women are recruited for sex through misuse of short-term tourist visas. Exploitation of foreign workers is common in the agricultural and construction sectors; Domestic workers in the service sector are also at risk. “Forced labour cases are often treated as mere labour disputes by authorities accused of tolerating exploitative practices”.
It is emphasised that Cyprus is a popular destination for irregular migration due to its location between Africa, Asia and Europe and its porous borders, adding: “It serves as both a transit and destination country for human trafficking. This is the largest criminal market in Cyprus. This is followed by human and drug trafficking markets. While people arrive on small boats and commercial ships, universities established illegally in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) issue student visas to African citizens, many of whom do not attend classes. When they arrive in TRNC, they are directed to cross the buffer zone and seek asylum in the Republic of Cyprus. “In addition, some people try to apply for political asylum through fake marriages with the help of smugglers“.
Majority of Arms Trafficking Begins in TRNC
The report states that Cyprus is a transit country for illegal arms trade and that most of the arms smuggling originates from the TRNC.
The report states that the issue of counterfeit products is also an important problem in Cyprus and that many counterfeit products come from Turkey via the TRNC, adding: “The country loses millions of euros every year due to counterfeiting and piracy. Counterfeit products seized in recent police operations include clothing, accessories, mobile phone cases, toys, perfumes and other items“.
Heroin: “Taking advantage of the instability in the TRNC, it is smuggled from Afghanistan by sea”
The report stated that heroin trade in Cyprus is limited and mostly aimed at the domestic market and added: “Most of the imported heroin is smuggled from Afghanistan by sea, taking advantage of the instability in the TRNC. However, Turkey’s role as a transit country and the increasing consumption in neighbouring countries are worrying, likely to affect the heroin market in Cyprus, especially in the Turkish part of the island“.
TRNC Haven For Criminals
Criminal actors: “Foreign criminal actors dominate the drug market in TRNC… There are many people wanted by INTERPOL in TRNC”.
According to the report, foreign criminal actors are prominent in Cyprus and their participation in the country’s criminal markets creates problems. The relevant part of the report, which states that Caucasian, Eastern European and Asian organised crime groups are heavily involved in property crimes as well as money laundering and that they dominate the drug trafficking market in the TRNC, continues as follows:
“The Russian mafia is the criminal group with the most financial and economic power and the best connections in Cyprus. There are many people wanted by INTERPOL in areas not under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus. These foreign criminal actors work closely with domestic criminals. Loose criminal networks are highly influential in the country and play a role in the drug trafficking market as well as illegal gambling, trafficking in women and crimes against property”.