web: Europol goes global in the hunt for intelligence and analysis:
Across the Atlantic: Brazil and Mexico
Both Brazil and Mexico
are considered by the EU as "strategic partners", and
there are a number of high-level agreements that guide relations
The EU agreed a Joint
Action Plan with Brazil in 2011 which made a number of statements
regarding joint attempts to deal with organised crime and corruption,
including agreeing to "cooperate in preventing the use of
their financial systems for laundering proceeds arising from
criminal activities in general and implementing Financial Action
Task Force recommendations," and to "explore the possibilities
of sharing experiences and best practices among Financial Intelligence
Units (FIU) of Brazil and EU member countries."
There was also agreement
on exchanging "experiences, cooperation and good practices
with interested countries in fighting against organised crime
activities," considering "inter-agency bilateral exchange
of information and best practices on law enforcement," and
"strengthening bilateral legal and police cooperation."
crime groups must be carefully monitored," according to
Europol's "business case" for concluding an agreement
with the country. That agreement should be operational - permitting
the exchange of personal data - and given "high priority".
The agency notes that
rapid economic expansion, increased migration between the EU
and Brazil (in both directions), growing trade links between
the EU and Brazil and the forthcoming Olympics and World Cup
in the Latin American state all lead to "opportunities for
This is only too clear
in Europol's assessment of the problem of migration from Brazil
to the EU: "Brazilians represent an ongoing issue with regard
to illegal immigration into the EU. In recent years Brazilians
have become one of the main nationalities refused entry to the
EU," while "Brazilian criminals are increasingly detected
as facilitators of illegal immigration in the EU."
Europol maintains a file,
AWF Phoenix, on "South American trafficking networks"
and increasing amounts of data are being entered by Member States
into the file, but it remains incomplete: "Information received
from Brazil would be very useful to complete the picture that
AWF Phoenix has in the EU on the Brazilian THB [trafficking in
human beings] networks."
There are also concerns
over drug smuggling, the trade in endangered species (which makes
use of techniques developed for smuggling drugs), credit card
fraud, counterfeiting of the Euro, and terrorism.
The issue of counterfeiting
appears to have proved tricky for Europol in the past, with member
states' own interests standing in the way of the agency's work:
"In operational cases, use has been made of the services
of EU bi-lateral Liaison Officers based in Brazil, but often,
as they have their own priorities, this method of communication
has depended very much on their will to cooperate."
Meanwhile, terrorism is
an issue on which the EU and Brazil have not yet cooperated,
but "a number of religiously motivated, extremist groups
linked to Hezbollah and possibly al-Qaeda have reportedly been
active in Brazil, specifically close to the Tri-Border area (TBA
- Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay)."
However: "the topic
remains very sensitive, since Brazil has been accused by the
USA in the recent past of failing to cooperate in this area and
denying the presence of known terrorists on its territory."
Terrorism also crops up
as an issue in Europol's analysis of Mexico, with the agency
noting that EU countries such as the UK and France are often
used as transit points for smuggling people to Mexico. Moreover,
"the immigrants detected are often from countries such as
Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq prompting concerns also in respect
of potential links with terrorism." 
Under the name of combating
terrorism Europol is also taking an interest in separatist and
anarchist groups in Mexico. There are apparently reports of ETA
(the Basque independence movement) presence in the country, and
"Mexico is very relevant for Europol
as numerous anarchist
extremist activities have been committed there, whilst often
claiming solidarity with anarchists imprisoned in the EU."
Relations between the
EU and Mexico have intensified over the last decade, and in 2010
a Joint Executive Plan saw the two countries agree to "encourage
a set of specific measures" in areas similar to those on
which the EU has agreed to cooperate with Brazil.
These include "combating
transnational organised crime, drug trafficking, illegal manufacturing
and trafficking of weapons, explosives, trafficking in human
beings, and other public security and law enforcement issues,"
concerns which are reflected in Europol's business case for the
The Joint Executive Plan
also includes a commitment to "establish a sectoral dialogue
on public security and law enforcement in order to stimulate
bilateral cooperation" which will, amongst other things,
allow the two parties to "exchange information, experiences,
knowledge and intelligence"; "strengthen cooperation"
on "public security, justice, crime prevention, police intelligence,
training and equipment, prison policies and institutional development,
and human rights."
The Plan also includes
a commitment to "explore the opportunity and possible means
to initiate cooperation between Mexico and Frontex on border
security related issues."
So far there are no signs
that Mexico and Frontex have initiated cooperation, but Europol
is particularly candid in its business case when discussing one
issue which may attract the attention of the EU's border agency
- human trafficking:
have detected a growing number of Eastern European women
being trafficked to the main cities
They also mentioned
an ongoing investigation linked with Germany as well as another
related to Bulgaria in which high ranking officers of the Bulgarian
authorities are allegedly involved."
Meanwhile, although it
is "far from being clear" whether "a notable increase
in cocaine trafficking from Mexico to the South West hub"
- Western Africa and Northwest Africa and Southwest Europe -
is due to Mexican organised crime groups, Europol's AWF Cola
has some information on operations with "tentative links
to Mexican suspects, although their involvement seems limited."
consider that cocaine trafficking is split along very identifiable
lines with Mexican organised crime groups (OCGs) controlling
trafficking to USA, and Colombian OCGs, controlling the networks
to Europe," but Europol's discussions with Mexican authorities
suggest that "Mexican cartels already control the distribution
towards USA and are now turning their attention towards the EU
The potential threat posed
by Mexican OCGs to the EU "are sufficiently serious to justify
priority attention being given to the possibility of concluding
a cooperation agreement." Doing so "would be beneficial
to Europol and its Member States in the long term." There
is no indication whether such an agreement would be strategic,
or operational (and thus permitting the exchange of personal
1 | 2 | 3
 Europol, Business Case: Cooperation with
Brazil, 4 April 2012
 Europol, Business Case:
Cooperation with Mexico, 4 April 2012
 Council of the European Union, Mexico-European
Union Strategic Partnership Joint Executive Plan, 9820/10,
16 May 2010