Project Millennium targets transnational Eurasian organized crime (referred to as TEOC).
These crime groups emanate from the republics of the former Soviet Union and former Communist countries of Eastern Europe. The number of such crime syndicates is rising steadily and they pose a great threat internationally.
All are engaged in systematic criminal businesses, some protected from the law with the help of corrupt or criminally influenced officials. The international nature of organized crime means that TEOC also has a notable effect in Western Europe and North America.
Project Millennium has developed shared tools to assist member countries in the exchange of investigative information, with the aim of identifying the individuals and companies behind TEOC.
"Thieves in Law"
“Thieves in Law” or “Thieves professing the code” have been identified by Project Millennium as a priority area of investigation.
"Thieves in Law" are at the highest level in the criminal hierarchy and they control the activities of other criminal groups lower down. The influence of the "Thieves in Law" therefore extends across groups engaging in a wide variety of crimes, such as trafficking in drugs, human beings and stolen vehicles.
“Thieves in Law” follow their own code of honour and ethics which regulate criminal behaviour. They are of various nationalities including Russian, Georgian, Armenian and Belarusian.
They contribute to a common criminal fund – the “Obshak” – which is managed by the most influential and high-ranking “Thieves in Law”. This represents billion of dollars and is invested in shares, real estate and companies.
Money is invested in legitimate companies – with the "Thieves in Law" often having great influence in activities and control of a particular sector – as well as in shadow companies used for money laundering. In this way, criminal funds are generated and distributed through both legal and illegal channels, with an impact on the global economy.
A Project Millennium working group meets on a regular basis to allow law enforcement officers to share their experiences, exchange intelligence, and identify key trends and modus operandi of Eurasian crime groups.
The most recent Working Group meeting took place in Madrid, Spain, in June 2012.
A total of 19 countries attended this meeting: Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Israel, Italy, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. EUROPOL also participated as an observer.