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Organised Crime in the Western Balkans

A combination of its political and cultural history, as well as its geographical location, has allowed the Western Balkans to become a nucleus for international organised crime. Under Communist rule extensive black markets were established and flourished, often with the complicity of party officials.

Drug trafficing Wordcloud

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These criminal networks not only survived the collapse of communism and the following internecine conflict but, in many ways, saw their business bolstered.  Under communist rule their market was limited but now they could expand into new territories, furthermore, the preceding armed conflict also facilitated overtures into the business of arms trafficking.

The current state of organised crime in the Western Balkans is difficult to gauge. In some cases, the politicians who present themselves as leading the fight against organised crime stand accused of direct involvement in illegality. The Acquis Communautaire requires commitment to the rule of law and makes it clear that countries will not accede without proving that they have taken adequate measures to combat organised crime.

For further information consult the following library products:


Organized Crime in the Western Balkans / Dejan Anastasijevic, presented at First Annual Conference on Human Security, Terrorism and Organized Crime in the Western Balkan Region, Human Security, Terrorism and Organised Crime in the Western Balkans (HUMSEC), 2006. 15p.
Overview of organised crime in Western Balkans, specifically trafficking of drugs, weapons and humans.

Transnational Organised Crime in the Western Balkans / Bojan Dobovšek, presented at First Annual Conference on Human Security, Terrorism and Organized Crime in the Western Balkan Region, Human Security, Terrorism and Organised Crime in the Western Balkans (HUMSEC), 2006. 10p.
Examination of how organised crime has developed and recommendations as to how it should be combated.


Organised crime and judicial corruption in Western Balkans / Fabian Zhilla, Journal of Financial Crime, 2011. 13p.
General analysis of nexus between judicial corruption and organised crime in Western Balkans. Specific examination of the role of customary norms in Albania.

The Adriatic Connection: Mafia links from Italy to Western Balkans / Matteo Albertini, 2011. 12p.
Article looking at development of organised crime in the Western Balkans and its expansion into a worldwide operation.

Transnational terrorism, organized crime and peace-building : human security in the Western Balkans / Wolfgang Benedek, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, 366p.
This book looks at the role of terrorist and criminal factions in the peace-building process and highlights the close links between these factions and state institutions.

The Challenge of Organized Crime in the Balkans and the Political and Economic Implications / Emil Giatzidis, Journal of Communist Studies & Transition Politics, 2007. 25p.
Examines the entrenchment of organised crime in Balkan states and the challenges to establishing democratic rule.

Good cops, bad mobs? EU policies to fight trans-national organised crime in the Western Balkans / Lucia Montanaro-Jankowski, EPC, 2005. 27p.
Examines organised crime in Western Balkans in context of potential EU accession.

Economic perspectives on organized crime / Krassen Stanchev, Journal of Southeast European & Black Sea Studies, 2004. 9p.
This article examines organised crime in the Western Balkans from an economic perspective.

Stakeholders and Institutions

EU Organised Crime Threat Assessment (OCTA) / EUROPOL, 2011, p.17.
Overview of organised crime enterprises in EU.

Western Balkans – Towards a more integrated Europe / DG IPOL, Policy departments B & C, 2011, pp. 17-21.
Analysis of state of police and judicial cooperation in criminal manners in context of EU enlargement.

European Commission annual report on enlargement strategy
All relevant information relating to candidacy or otherwise of Western Balkan nations.

Council of European Union: EU and Western Balkans
All relevant documentation relating to the relationship between the Council and the Western Balkans.


Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
Website for not-for-profit cooperative of investigative centres in Eastern Europe and throughout the world.

Centre for Study of Democracy
NGO focused mainly on Bulgaria but with studies and reports on organised crime throughout Western Balkans.

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