THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- A report released by the EU police agency, Europol, says combating organized criminal networks will require an increased international effort.
The 2008 Organized Crime Threat Assessment says there are five regions where organized criminal networks are operating and need to be targeted. The report identified criminal hubs in the northwest, northeast, southwest, southeast and the south, where narcotics trafficking and money laundering predominantly take place, Europol reported.
Officials say the criminal networks that thrive in these regions are taking advantage of factors like destination markets, geographic location and infrastructure.
Of the regions cited with concern is the northwest criminal hub, where there is an advanced railway system and abundant access to seaports. Countries in the region, including Belgium and the Netherlands, are now home to a hot spot of criminal activity.
The report says that in order to counter the growing threat posed by organized criminal networks, an increased effort by EU member states will be required.
"The Organized Crime Threat Assessment is a threat assessment of current and expected trends in organized crime across the European Union," Max-Peter Ratzel, Europol director, said in a statement.
"The assessment is based upon existing knowledge and expertise, as well as a justified forecast, and its purpose is to counter the anticipated threat in order to fight crime in a more proactive manner."