International organised crime in the European Union

  • Didier Bigo
  • Hager Ben Jaffel
  • James Sheptycki


The authors of this article focus on the term and the meaning of ‘organised crime’.
Following their approach, it seems to be impossible to give an exact definition, because it has meant different things over time. There is a historical dimension but also a geopolitical dimension: South American, European and Russian historical developments have created different forms. Sometimes and somewhere organised crime is more or less ‘disorganised’, deregulated and connected with local frameworks. With regard to the organisation structures the authors distinguish five main ideal types: criminal networks with, firstly, ‘no social support structure in the milieu of operation’; those ‘rooted in marginalised subcultures’; those ‘rooted in mainstream society’; those with links ‘in power elites’; ‘criminal alliances between underworld and upper world or mafia-like organisations’.
Moreover, the authors offer a versatile and complex picture of what organised crime means today. The contribution offers some suggestions for building future organised crime threat assessments.

How to Cite
Bigo, D., Jaffel, H., & Sheptycki, J. (2017). International organised crime in the European Union. European Law Enforcement Research Bulletin, (2), 239-256. Retrieved from