Balkan instability feeds crime

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 26, 2000 -- (RFE/RL) Senior international law enforcement officials have expressed new concern about the rise in criminal activity in the Balkans, especially drug trafficking. A leading UN crime-fighting official says the global nature of trafficking highlights the need for universal jurisdiction, to allow authorities to prosecute it anywhere. UN correspondent Robert McMahon reports. United Nations, 23 June 2000 (RFE/RL) -- International crime experts have noted with alarm the rise in many forms of organized crime in former Balkan war zones and are hoping cross-border cooperation can begin to combat it. The surge in trafficking -- both in drugs and humans -- as well as prostitution and auto theft were among the crime areas cited by law enforcement authorities at separate events on Thursday. A conference in Bucharest attended by officials from Europol, Interpol, and the Council of Europe drew attention to the Balkans as a source of international crime activity. Speakers said local law enforcement authorities feel powerless to combat international crimes such as drug trafficking. The manager of Europol's projects on organized crime in Eastern Europe (Uwe Kranz) said Kosovar Albanians now dominate the heroin markets in Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Norway, and Sweden. Crime experts say the criminal groups have taken advantage of the fall of communist regimes and the wars in Yugoslavia in the 1990s to gain a strong position in the region. The head of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, Pino Arlacchi, suggests that the groups, linked with corrupt politicians, have also been able to intercept some of the international aid that has been pouring into the region in recent years.

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