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Mafias sabotage Stockholm economy

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14:06 CEST+02:00
A new report has concluded that organized crime is putting the brakes on growth in the Stockholm region.

EU enlargement has meant that Stockholm is no longer a peripheral player in a northern European region that now comprises 110 million inhabitants. But the city's current more central position has its downsides.

Top notch ferry and flight connections have made Stockholm a popular transit region for criminal networks that are either preparing to branch out into the rest of the country or move on to another location in northern Europe.

In order reverse the trend, the new report recommends that more resources be committed to combating organized crime in the Baltic region, an area in which Stockholm is a major hub.

The report was commissioned by Marie Eriksson, who manages a gender equality project at Stockholm's county administrative board. Its findings are the result of a collaborative effort between police in Stockholm and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency's (SIDA) Baltic unit.

"For a region to be considered safe, stable and free from corruption it is imperative that it is attractive to inhabitants, visitors and investors.

"Organized crime can distort competition and have a negative bearing on the business climate and investment opportunities," said Ericsson in a statement.

According to the report, the organized crime of today has little in common with the mafia as described by Mario Puzo or Francis Ford Coppola:

"Today's organized criminal networks more closely resemble multinational companies with their goods, services, divisions and employees."

And one of the most lucrative divisions focuses on human trafficking.

"Human trafficking is profitable and less risky than other forms of organized crime. And indicators suggest that human trafficking is a crime that is on the increase in Stockholm county," said police spokesman Johan Troell.

The report refers to 51 attempts in the last three years to break up human trafficking operations involving prostitution in the Stockholm region. These raids showed that groups involved in human trafficking often also have connections to the weapons and drugs trades.

Marie Eriksson has proposed a number of preventive measures designed to ward battle all forms of organized crime. More financial resources should be made available, and local and regional groups involved in tackling the problem should work closer together.

"We have quite simply concluded that more people can do more to stop this. In the most equal region in the world we do not want there to be any human trafficking. A single case is one too many," she said.

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