Source: Sunday Times (UK) Contact: Pubdate: 29 March 1998 Authors: Andrew Alderson and Carey Scott, Paris CRIME KINGS MEET TO CARVE UP EUROPE "Dividing Europe's spoils of crime" IN the ancient French town of Beaune, the strange mix of nationalities and expensive limousines escaped the notice of most residents, who were more interested in the price of wine at a nearby auction. Only now has the reason for an autumn gathering of Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and Colombian "businessmen" at a hotel in the heart of Burgundy become apparent. According to newly disclosed French intelligence reports, representatives of the world's leading organised crime syndicates were holding a summit to discuss carving up western Europe for drugs, prostitution, smuggling and extortion rackets. Immaculately dressed gangsters from a dozen of the world's most ruthless crime rings met to consider greater co-operation, a pooling of expertise and, most importantly, to welcome their Russian "brothers" to the elite "club" responsible for a worldwide industry estimated to be worth £500 billion a year. Since the Beaune summit in November 1994, there have been two other gatherings of crime bosses on chartered yachts in the Mediterranean, according to senior intelligence sources in Europe and America. The message from the summits is clear: international criminal gangs are more organised than ever, even down to dividing up territories in European cities. "They split the cities into suburbs," said Serge Sabourin, of Interpol, the global police intelligence body. "In rural areas they are divided by type of activity." Police believe the gangs liaise to ensure they are not crowding individual drug routes, agree the amount of drugs that each can bring into countries to avoid flooding markets, share equipment such as boats and arms, and hire out specialists to each other, particularly in the growing "cyber-crime" industry. The new French intelligence reports have come to light after a high-profile murder trial in France, which threw up links between one of the six victims, a Russian millionaire businessman, and the mafia. The Beaune summit was the first time French intelligence was able to monitor the entry of senior Russian gangsters into the country. The Russian mafia is understood to have been represented by Vyacheslav Ivankov, known as "the Jap" because of his Far Eastern appearance. Two days later a Georgian film producer was gunned down in Paris after being branded a traitor by the organisation. Ivankov, who is said by Russian police to have earned £200,000 a day, has subsequently been jailed for 10 years for extortion in the United States. But his Moscow-based group has continued to expand, particularly into northern Europe, specialising in prostitution and fraud. According to European and American intelligence sources, the Russians have emerged as significant players on the western European stage in recent years. There are now more than 8,000 organised crime groups in Russia, with two-thirds of the country's economy said to be under their sway. Two hundred of them have criminal ties in 50 countries. Russian mobsters control massive extortion, fraud and prostitution rackets in Germany, Italy, Holland and Belgium and are beginning to get a foothold in Britain. In Italy, their influence in some parts of the country is already greater than that of the Italian mafia, according to police. At the Beaune summit, the Italian mafia was represented by the Gambino clan from New York, whose boss is John Gotti, currently serving a life sentence for murder and racketeering. He is said to be so powerful that he still runs his empire from prison in America. Police say the Gambino clan, which has its roots in Italy and numbers about 500 people, has concentrated on southern Europe, specialising in arms, narcotics, gambling and loan-sharking. Alongside them were representatives from at least three other groups. They included: The Sun Yee On triad from Hong Hong, which is reputed to have more than 30,000 members worldwide. The group is prominent in Britain, Holland, Belgium and France. It is involved in loan-sharking, prostitution, money-laundering, smuggling illegal immigrants and counterfeit currency. The Yakuza from Japan. Police believe there are about 100,000 mainly white-collar members, who tend to stay out of legitimate business and run prostitution, debt-collection and big-business rackets. They have strong ties with extreme right-wing groups. The Colombian cocaine cartel from Medellin. It was formerly led by Pablo Escobar, the infamous drug baron killed during a shoot-out with police. Today the cartel is more fragmented and has been overtaken by a Colombian rival, the Cali cartel, led by Orlando Sanchez. Arnaud de Borchgrave, director of the global organised crime project at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, said: "We know organised crime groups have met to carve up the planet . . . There has been an astonishing growth in transnational groups. The legal economy has gone global and the crime economy has gone global as well." The London-based National Criminal Intelligence Service is particularly concerned by the growth of Turkish drug traffickers in Britain. This weekend Huseyin Baybasin, 41, a Turk, was arrested in Holland during a massive anti-drug smuggling swoop in Britain, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Turkey, Germany and Romania. Five people were also arrested in London, three of whom were charged yesterday with various offences. Additional reporting: Michael Sheridan, Hong Kong and Mark Franchetti, Moscow Dividing Europe's spoils of crime TURKISH GANGSTERS are responsible for 80% of the heroin smuggled into Britain each year. They also specialise in money laundering throughout western Europe THE GAMBINOS and other American-based mafia groups have forged strong links in Italy and concentrate their activities in southern Europe. They are responsible for arms smuggling, illegal gambling and loan shark ventures TRIAD GROUPS from Hong Kong are responsible for prostitution operations in Holland and Belgium. At their most vicious, they imprison young girls as sex slaves COLOMBIAN CARTELS, particularly the Cali and those from Medellin, flood Italy, Germany and other western European countries with hundreds of tons of cocaine a year RUSSIAN MAFIA GROUPS, the Organisatsya, emerged as big-time crime "players" at the 1994 Beaune summit. They have established extortion, fraud and prostitution rackets in Germany and Italy, and are spreading westwards.