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Report: "Security Situation in the Czech Republic in 2000"

The Czech Interior Ministry released a report titled "Security Situation in the Czech Republic in 2000" (http://www.mvcr.cz/dokumenty/bezp_si00/angl/crime3.html) that presents an interesting picture of the criminal situation in the country and provides a comprehensive section on organized-crime groups operating in the republic.

According to the report, most organized-crime gangs in the Czech Republic are from the former Soviet Union, and in the last four years they have noticeably increased their activities. These groups are involved in different criminal enterprises but distinguish themselves in violent crimes, most often connected to protection rackets primarily targeting Russians doing business in the Czech Republic.

In 2000, there were approximately 10 major organized-crime "brigades" from the former USSR operating in the country. The report has this to say about them: "The 'brigades' operating in the Czech Republic are as follows: Luhanska Brigade (the main seat was detected in Brno, a principal representative is known as 'Pascha'; the person responsible for activities in Prague and surrounding areas is 'Krava' or 'Great Andrey'); Kiev Brigade (operating mainly in East Bohemia); Mukatchev Brigade (North and West Bohemia); Lvov Brigade (the whole territory of our country), Uzhorod Brigade (Prague, North and West Bohemia), Irschava Brigade (Central and North Bohemia); Solncevska Brigade (mainly West Bohemia) –- the majority of these brigades operate also in other European Countries."

According to the report, the Russian groups are mostly involved in financial crimes, while Ukrainian groups deal in bank robberies and illegal migration into the republic. The report notes that organized-crime groups from the former USSR also"finance drill camps for Muslim warriors from Chechnya in the Czech Republic."

A separate section of the report deals with narcotic manufacturing and trafficking: "The dominant group of organizers involved in illicit trade in heroin consist of citizens of Turkey and Kosovo (Albanians). Heroin is transported to Europe by the Balkan route. Czech nationals are increasingly involved in this kind of trade (in terms of numbers of couriers as well as support personal -- "landlords" hiring their flats, fictitious company owners, car owners, telephone holders). Cocaine still remains of marginal interest to consumers.... The most sought-after drug remains pervitin, which is 'cooked' from ephedrine. Compared with 1998 the situation has remained unchanged. However the production and storage of ephedrine is better monitored which has had a positive impact.... Producers are predominantly Czech citizens; however Russian and Asian groups are currently becoming more involved. A massive growth in the consumption of ecstasy was recorded…the price of this drug has reduced drastically. Marijuana remains very popular (it is imported but it is also grown in the Czech Republic)."

An interesting section of the security report deals with Vietnamese organized-crime groups operating in the country: "Vietnamese criminal groups have been involved especially in organizing illegal migration and smuggling goods. Increasing abuse of drugs in the Vietnamese community has led to the creation of a drug dealing network." According to the report, these groups have come under the influence of Vietnamese arriving from Germany, many of whom are wanted on international warrants and whose experience is mainly in the area of recovery of debts, protecting market places as well as pressure on competitors. These kinds of crimes have resulted in a shift from street gangs to the establishment of more elaborate organizations. Vietnamese crimes of violence have remained a problem and contract murders were recorded.

The police have noted that there is little willingness on the part of Vietnamese victims to cooperate with the Czech Police and that robberies of Vietnamese people are organized mainly by the citizens of Ukraine. Trends noticed by the Interior Ministry show growing cooperation between Vietnamese and Chinese criminal groups, as well as increased cooperation with criminal groups from the former Soviet Union.

(RFE/RL 27.vi.03)

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