Criminal gangs an unwelcome export

  • 2007-07-05
  • From wire reports

TURKU - Finnish paper Turun Sanomat has warned of the ongoingproblem of Baltic criminal gangs raiding theirwealthy neighbor.

The paper reported that Estonian-Lithuaniangangs were reponsible for a Baltic crime wave in the country withdozens of robberies taking place and jewelry and fur stores amongfavourite targets.

Referring to Ari Lahtela, the Baltic liaison officer of the Finnishpolice, the paper wrote that the gangs are expected to continue to bea problem while differences in living standards remained marked.

Turun Sanomat pointed out that Baltic criminal activity was notrestricted to Finland alone, but that gangs operate throughout Europewhere they are responsible for hundreds ofincidents.

The paper said that a large proportion of the drugs on theFinnish market arrived via Tallinn with Estonian criminal gangsorganizing deliveries, then leaving distribution to Finnish dealers.

In addition to drug trafficking, Estonianand Latvian criminals were reportedly involved with drug productionlaboratories, six of which were discovered in the two countries lastyear.

The paper added that crime in Estonia,Latvia and Lithuania waswell-organized, international and made extensive use of the Internet.Prostitution, gray imports [goods on which no tax or duty has beenpaid] and people smuggling were identified as the other specialtiesof Baltic criminal gangs.

Finally, Turun Sanomat noted that Baltic criminals play anincreasing role in in Internet crime and are thought to beresponsible for a large proportion of the so-called "phishing"crimes [dishonestly soliciting for bank details andidentity theft] in the United Kingdom.