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Safety inMaastricht

Organized / subversive crime

Forms of organized crime that manifest themselves in municipalities and can feel threatening for residents or persons in the relevant areas, such as drug-related crime, human trafficking, money laundering, property fraud, and Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs.

Police figures
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 1st half year
Drug trafficking 254 184 139 129 139 160 94
Possession of hard drugs (List I) 83 69 51 48 50 77 46
Possession of soft drugs (List II) 76 50 24 16 23 24 15
Trafficking, etc., of hard drugs (List I) 46 33 37 38 30 28 18
Trafficking, etc., of soft drugs (List II) 21 9 9 10 8 6 5
Production of hard drugs (List I) 1 1 1 0 1 0 1
Production of soft drugs (List II) 27 22 17 17 27 25 9

Trafficking in drugs is a ‘victimless crime’, i.e. a criminal offence without an immediately identifiable victim that is mainly recorded in an ex-officio record. As a result, this is largely dependent on police effort. For this reason, conclusions on the actual volume of drug trafficking in Maastricht cannot readily be drawn from police reports. Furthermore, policy-based police records have been used, whereby solely the most serious offence is recorded. A person the police arrest for trafficking drugs, in particular, is often committing one offence: when, for example, the person is also in the possession of hard drugs and soft drugs, then solely ‘trafficking of hard drugs’ will be recorded.

‘Organized crime’ would appear to be indissolubly connected with ‘subversive crime’, and for this reason is often used as a synonym. However, there is a small — but nevertheless important — difference between these two concepts. ‘Organized crime’ refers to groups of criminals who are focused on illegal gain. These groups commit systemic offences with serious consequences for society and are often able to cover their activities in a fairly effective manner. They are prepared to use physical violence or to bribe persons to look the other way. (Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into Investigation Methods, 1996, pp. 24-25 ‘Subversive crime’ is a broader concept, and is not necessarily committed by groups. Organized crime is by very definition subversive. However, the subversion of society is not as such dependent on organized or other forms of crime.

Subversion is an issue when the rule of law or society are undermined, in the broadest meaning of the term. A distinction is made between punishable and non-punishable forms of subversion: the manner in which the authorities address these two forms is important. A neighbourhood police officer who does not take action when this is required, or a conflict of the interests of an administrator that does not involve corruption, are both examples of non-punishable behaviour that is, nevertheless, subversive. The disruption of society in neighbourhoods, large-scale systematic violations of legal standards, or intimidation, bribery or blackmailing of members of the public, business, administrators, or the civil service are all forms of behaviour that are both subversive and punishable/criminal.13

Organized subversive crime relates to forms of crime such as drug-related crime, human trafficking, environmental crime, money laundering, and property fraud. In addition, Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs) are generally presumed to be criminal organizations that commit punishable offences including the aforementioned offences.

Most criminals are engaged in drug trafficking, as enormous illegal proceeds can be generated from this form of crime. Developments in drug production and drug trafficking are difficult to map, and the amounts of drugs produced and trafficked in the Netherlands can only be estimated. Although the police roll up plantations and laboratories every day, it is not clear whether the figures are determined by the number of existing production sites or by the human resources that the police and judicial authorities are prepared to can deploy for the investigation and prosecution of the offences. Nor is a good insight available into the subversive effects of drugs production and trafficking, for example in the form of threatening persons in authority.14

Criminals make use of the openings that the government and other established institutions leave for them to engage in their criminal activities. They need information and permits from the local authorities. They need a bank account and they have to carry out bank transactions to launder their money. They need estate agents, property developers, and civil-law notaries for their investments in immovable property. And they leave traces of their criminal activity behind, traces that the authorities can find if they look carefully. Groups, families, and individuals — as well as businesses and entrepreneurs — who are active in the criminal circuit continually seek opportunities and openings to dictate the situation. They will then often have a wide range of resources, such as knowledge of the social and power relationships in the neighbourhood or district, social and family networks, as well as physical resources (an impressive bearing, brutality), liquid assets and intermediaries. The authorities, conversely, issue the permits and should supervise compliance with the conditions laid down in the permits. When they do so, they may or may not find indications of criminal activity. When they do find these indications, they can decide whether or not to act on them. Acting on such indications may then conflict with policy objectives or political priorities.

Lam, J., Wal, R. van der, & Kop, N. (2018), sluipend gif, een onderzoek naar ondermijnende criminaliteit, Den Haag: Boom criminologie PDF

Jong, J. de (2018), Het mysterie van de verdwenen criminaliteit, Den Haag: Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek Weblink

Kolthoff, E., Khonraad, S. (2016), Ondermijnende aspecten van georganiseerde criminaliteit en de rol van de bovenwereld, Tijdschrift voor Criminologie, 2 (58), 76-90 Weblink