Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has criticized the European Union for not doing enough to break the link between illegal immigration and the growing drug trade.
During the 14th UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Japan, Szijjártó pointed out that there are two major security challenges linked to organized crime that the world is currently facing: illegal migration and the rise in drug consumption. In his view, the EU’s responsible authorities are not employing the appropriate measures to break the link between the two.
The minister had pointed out the global pandemic is directly exacerbating this concrete problem. Until now, illegal mass-immigration had only represented a cultural and security threat for Europe, however, in the present context, it also represents a serious health risk, as the uncontrolled influx off masses into the continent could accelerate the spread of the virus. This, in turn, will feed organized crime, as migrants are paying people-smuggling networks to get in to Europe, and are often assisted by NGOs on their way, he claimed.
The minister accused Brussels of supporting illegal migration and tied this to a rise in criminal drug activity, including smuggling and narcotics sales within European countries. This in turn has led to a rise in drug use for Europeans. The European drugs trade is now largely controlled by immigrant gangs whose tactics include increasingly violent methods. A 2014 report on global organized crime, for example, found that drugs and illegal immigration were closely linked.
“Migrant smuggling in North Africa is often linked with illicit trade and the trafficking of numerous other commodities. For example, drug trafficking is becoming closely integrated with migrant smuggling. Historically, the routes for migration flows, such as Agadez, are now transforming into conduits for narcotics on the black market,” the report reads.
It goes on to describe how drugs are flowing into Niger and heading northward into Libya and how Libyan border towns such as “Zuwarah, Sabrata and Zawiya see a large number of smuggled migrants and are involved with cocaine trafficking”.
In many countries, migrant gangs control a significant amount of the drug trade. In Germany’s Frankfurt, Der Spiegel wrote that North Africans dominate the drug trade in the neighborhoods around Frankfurt’s train station. In Berlin, Arab clans dominate the drug trade in neighborhoods across the city, according to Die Welt.
In Sweden, Deputy National Police Chief Mats Löfving said that migrant clans have arrived in Sweden are responsible for a surge in crime in many areas, including drug offenses.
“These clans have come to Sweden solely to organize crime. They work to create power, they have a great capacity for violence, and they want to make money. And they do that through drug crimes, violent crimes, and extortion,” said Löfving, who made remarks during an interview on Ekot’s Saturday program on Swedish Radio.
In 2019 alone, there were 257 explosions linked to drug violence in Sweden, prompting the leader of the opposition Moderates party Ulf Kristersson to say that “this government has lost control over crime in Sweden. We have seen in recent years how the number of fatalities has increased.”
The country’s police chief, Anders Thornberg, has warned that gang violence coming from parallel societies is a threat to Sweden’s democracy.
Even in Italy, perhaps the European country most famous for its own organized crime network, migrants are increasingly making up a greater share of such networks, including the drug trade.
Drugs are big business
Szijjártó also pointed to the lack of institutional support from global institutions, referring to the vote by the UN commission in December last year, which had removed marijuana from the list of more addictive and potent drugs. The Hungarian government was opposed to the reclassification, but instead of supporting a similarly tough stance on drugs, the European Commission had instead launched rule-of-law proceedings against the country.
During the above-mentioned vote by the Commission for Narcotic Drugs in 2020, the UN had removed cannabis from a list of stronger drugs such as cocaine or heroin. The goal was to allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and for research. Although the global pro-cannabis drive is being dressed up in humanitarian and medical arguments by its proponents, it is telling that the UN decision was celebrated as a victory by pro-cannabis human rights NGOs such as the one headed by French-Algerian Kenzi Riboulet-Zemouli, who reacted by saying that “this is a huge, historic victory for us, we couldn’t hope for more.” It was also welcomed by owners of businesses having a direct financial interest in the legalization of cannabis products, such the Canadian-born Dirk Heitepriem, vice president at Canopy Growth.
Although American and European leaders were enthusiastic about the adoption of the new cannabis reclassification, countries such as China, Nigeria or Russian were strongly opposed to the move. There are also political undertones behind the legalization drive. The move is advocated by mostly green and left-wing political movements who accentuate the civil liberties aspect of drug use but are largely silent about its impact on public health, mental illness, crime and, social cohesion.
Unsurprisingly pro-liberalization NGOs and left-wing parties enjoy the support of big business, as the industry for marijuana-derived CBD oil is estimated to be worth $16 billion by 2025 in the US alone, and the American medical or recreational marijuana market is expected to grow to over $34 billion in the next five years.