Chinese organized crime is booming in Europe, due to a growing ability to meld with existing criminal groups, Asia Times Online reported.
In December, Italian police shut down a Chinese-Italian organized crime network in Venice that had bought large parcels of real estate using proceeds from human trafficking and prostitution rings, according to Asia Times Online.
Last October, Spanish police arrested over 80 people connected to Chinese organized crime and charged them with money laundering, sex trafficking and extortion. The group had allegedly laundered $200 million annually over the course of four to five years, according to El País. Law enforcement in seven countries carried out arrests in coordination with the Spanish operation.
The suspects in Spain were accused of a simple but effective process of tax evasion, El País reported, which involved selling wholesale merchandise in order to finance illegal lending operations, as well as using real estate investments to launder money.
The suspected mastermind of the operation is a Chinese immigrant who owns an art gallery in Madrid.
In its annual Organized Crime Threat Assessment for 2011, Europol highlighted the growing threat of Chinese organized crime, noting that it had linked Chinese criminals in the Netherlands to the supply of synthetic drugs. The report also cited Chinese-European criminal groups as major players in the trafficking of human beings, the sex trade, the counterfeiting of travel documents, and coercive labor rings. Europol went so far as to label Chinese groups as the “most threatening to society as a whole” along with Roma and Nigerian organized crime.