Issue 3 - May 2011

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Introduction to the special issue on
Human Smuggling and Trafficking
by Georgios A. Antonopoulos,
Reader in Criminology,
School of Social Sciences and Law,
Teesside University, UK
& Georgios Papanicolaou,
Senior Lecturer in Criminology, School of Social Sciences and Law,
Teesside University, UK

of "the art of crime" issue 3,
May 2011

The focus of this special issue of "The Art of Crime" is Human Smuggling and Trafficking, issues that particularly since the early 1990s have been at the epicentre of media, public, political and scientific debates despite the long history of the phenomena. Generally, human smuggling and trafficking has been viewed through the prism of organised crime, threat and danger. Thus, since the early 1990s we have been bombarded with media stories about people being smuggled or trafficked within the context of the huge migration movements around the world, and we have been alerted to the threats that these two forms of organised crime pose both to human and national security. Partly, representations of human smuggling and trafficking are true. There are, for instance, people who are trafficked into the labour market or the sex industry; victims do exist in that process and are often physically, psychologically and financially maltreated. Without neglecting the fact that serious forms of victimisation take place, the purpose of this special issue is not to reinforce much of the mainstream discourse on human smuggling and trafficking and its menacing image but rather to highlight the diverging views on the topic, and at points to stimulate the reader into looking at a bigger, a macro picture. This special issue has been made possible with contributions by six researchers highly active in the field who have used a variety of methods and data.

The first article by Georgi Petrunov deals with Trafficking in People for Sexual Exploitation from Bulgaria on the basis of 152 interviews with sec workers, traffickers NGOs, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors as well as the examination of secondary sources. Bulgaria is one of the most severely affected countries by human trafficking for sexual exploitation, and it is recognised as such by numerous international organisations concerned with the issue of human trafficking. In his contribution Petrunov initially examines the major phases in the development of human trafficking for sexual exploitation in and from Bulgaria since the beginning of the 1990s. He then presents the main factors that have created favourable conditions for the development and consolidation of the trafficking business, and moves into describing some features of the social organisation of human trafficking for sexual exploitation such as method of recruitment, transportation methods and major destinations, as well as models of operation. Finally, he examines the role and involvement of criminal organisations in the particular business.

The second article by Johan Leman and Stef Janssens deals with Entrepreneurship and Networking in the Trafficking of Sex Workers from East to West Europe by focusing on the case of Belgium on the basis of 25 juridical files analysed for the period 2002-2008. What the authors find is that that entrepreneurship in human trafficking for prostitution from, and via, Eastern Europe corresponds to one of three profiles: (a) a closed ethnic clan; (b) a business profile; or (c) an international and multi-ethnic business network. This is based on either the social-cultural patterns of organisation in the country of descent or transnational developments in the market. The authors also show that when international collaboration is needed, collaborations are formed on the basis of given social-cultural practices, values and norms of the actors involved. They also contend that  - apart from the very technical, police and judicial matters - if something is to be done about human trafficking for prostitution, a structural analysis of the features and the practices of the actors and the links between/among them is imperative.

The third article by Melvin Soudijn deals with The Involvement of Chinese Human Smugglers in Other Forms of Crime. The particular article is based on data obtained by 88 criminal investigations of Chinese human smuggling that were brought before the Dutch courts in the period between 1999 and 2006. The author firstly examines the involvement of human smugglers of Chinese people in various criminal activities. On the basis of the available evidence, and as Soudijn suggests, there exists hardly any evidence of a symbiotic relationship between human smuggling and activities that are regularly associated with the particular trade such as drug smuggling, violence or forced prostitution. The author also discusses potential biases that may have affected the outcomes of his research and pays attention to the ways in which migrants finance their smuggling. This constitutes an important part of the particular articles since “by looking at the method of payment, it truly becomes possible to challenge stereotypical representations of evil smugglers steeped in organised crime”. 

The final article by Georgios Papanicolaou and Georgios A. Antonopoulos titled Organised Crime as a Productive Force: Human Smuggling and Trafficking and the Economy in Greece attempts at questioning and challenging the prevalent notion of organised crime in the country, and specifically these manifestations  of organised crime that are associated with migratory movements to and via Greece. By using an amalgamate of a variety sources of data such as official statistics from the Greek authorities, and interviews with relevant actors including law enforcement agents, migrants and their employers as well as migrant smugglers the authors explore how the social organisation of human smuggling and trafficking is adaptive and functional to structures of the Greek economy. The authors suggest that the scientific and public policy community needs to approach migration-related forms of organised crime within “a political economic framework that acknowledges their objective significance for particular sectors of the economy in the migratory destination country…”.

One can identify a number of themes emerging in this special issue. For instance, in relation to the entities and actors involved in human smuggling and trafficking. Unlike popular depictions of human smuggling and trafficking, there is a diverse set of entities from hierarchical clans and other collectivities with different binding substances (ethnicity, family, business) to the individual trafficker who has nothing in common with the archetypal organised criminal; and a range of actors whose activities often overlap; from drivers and thriving car thieves to lady-companions, from legal construction subcontractors to sacked security agents, from amateur farmers to chiefs of Albanian smuggling networks, from people with a long criminal pedigree to (otherwise law-abiding) individuals who simply see a small business opportunity. Such a diversity in a mutating business environment makes trying to sketch the profile of the smuggler or the trafficker an impossible endeavour.

Not only are human smugglers service providers (Ruggiero, 1997) but also people who are typically perceived as victims assume the status of a consumer or a worker, and are often in a strong bargaining position. The articles also highlight not only the blurred boundaries between the legal and the illegal and the ways the two spheres intersect each other but also that the boundaries between work and exploitation are extremely blurred. Moreover, the articles in this special issue underscore how human smuggling and trafficking cannot be understood abstractly as crimes or violations, but rather as complex social phenomena developing in close conjunction with national and international socioeconomic and political conditions and policy regimes.
Finally, the authors directly or indirectly call for more and more rigorous research as well as a more careful and continuous evaluation of the available data. The history of concepts that organise mainstream discourses about the phenomena, trafficking, smuggling, organised crime, is patently rife with ideological (ab)use and political expediency (see, e.g., Naylor 2004). Empirical research, however, reveals a complexity which calls for bold theoretical breaks with established conceptual frameworks, laying bare the ideological nature of those frameworks. The significance of this should not be underestimated: if public policy is to articulate viable responses to these phenomena, we simply need more and richer data capable of providing a ground for more intensive and fertile theorising. In this sense, the remarkable empirical and theoretical advances in the study of smuggling and trafficking made in certain European countries are the result not only of bolder and innovative research strategies, but also of the permissiveness of the regimes regarding access to police and judicial records in those countries.

Thus, more than merely aiming to be informative, this special issue hopes to contribute towards the deconstruction of certain myths on the topic, to offer new perspectives and also to raise questions about the appropriate research and policy strategies towards human smuggling and trafficking. The readers may indeed be left with the feeling that the contributions more raise questions than offer answers. If, as we hope, this special issue inspires further debate, it will have accomplished these aims.


Naylor, R. T. (2004). Wages of crime. Black markets, illegal finance and the underworld economy (Revised ed.). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Ruggiero, V. (1997) Criminals and service providers: Cross-national dirty economies, Crime, Law and Social Change, 28(1), 27-38

1We would like to thank The Art of Crime for the opportunity to guest-edit this special issue and the authors for the timely delivery of the articles. 

Organised Crime as a Productive Force
Human Smuggling and Trafficking, and the Economy in Greece1

by Georgios Papanicolaou,
Senior Lecturer in criminology at Teesside University
& Georgios A. Antonopoulos,
Reader in criminology at Teesside University, UK


1. Introduction

One of the most disconcerting aspects of the contemporary study of organised crime involves the apparent discrepancy between the certainty with which the concept is used in public discourse and the weak underlying knowledge base on the one hand (von Lampe, 2008, p. 21; von Lampe, 2009), and the realisation that the threat of organised crime is used instrumentally to legitimise more intensive and intrusive law enforcement measures on the other hand (e.g. Sheptycki, 2003; van Duyne, 2003). It may certainly be the case that the organised crime hype is used by political centres and law en-forcement to their own purposes at home or abroad and that it makes it easier for authorities to intro-duce policies that the public would have difficulties to accept otherwise (Naylor, 2004). Similarly, concepts of moral entrepreneurship and moral panics may be indeed very useful in articulating expla-nations about how certain notions about organised crime and policy responses are elevated to inter-national orthodoxy (Andreas & Nadelmann, 2006). What concerns us in this paper is exactly the ques-tion of the social purpose of this discrepancy within our familiar Greek context.

Having contributed to a stream of research that has now placed Greece on the wider map of the study of organised crime (Antonopoulos & Winterdyk, 2005; 2006; Antonopoulos, 2008; 2009; Antonopoulos & Papanicolaou, 2009; Antonopoulos et al., 2009; Papanicolaou, 2008), we feel, with other colleagues (e.g., Lambropoulou, 2003), that the results of our work are increasingly at odds with official and public − especially media − discourses. To be sure, the term organised crime in Greek public policy and legislation has historically been used quite idiosyncratically to stand more as a eu-phemism for terrorism rather than what is taken to mean in other western European and the North American context (see, Xenakis, 2004). This latter meaning was introduced gradually in the 1990s and primarily through media accounts rather than criminological research and even law enforcement. This happened in the absence of any indigenous conceptual apparatus or substantive body of evi-dence. Today the term dominates policy agendas, which, however, completely lack reference to any scientific evidence. Or rather, there is not any reference to general evidence that is available to the academic community and citizens. In 2009, for example, the then newly appointed minister of Public Order reportedly regards “exceptionally dangerous the certain, as far as he is concerned, contact between organised crime and the new terrorism”. As he confides in private conversations: “If the relationship expands and the ties stabilise, then the situation may get out of hand in the field of security and disturb deci-sively the stability of the economy” (Karakousis, 2009, our translation).
Given the lack of empirical substantiation (see, e.g. Lambropoulou, 2002), such an official statement must be considered as unwarranted. Indeed, there is no publicly available report containing meaning-ful and assessable information (see Savona et al., 2005), that could corroborate the above claim about the extent and potency of organised crime in Greece, let alone its ties with terrorism.

If the Greek case appears to be an instance of the discrepancy (see also van Duyne, 2007) that con-cerns us, how do we then begin to construct an explanation of its occurrence? Our entry point here are the forms of organised crime that are routinely associated with illegal migration and the exploitation of (both legal and illegal) migrant labour. This approach is justified by the realisation that the issue of organised crime has been introduced in public debates and the policy making process nearly always in conjunction with the question of illegal migration. We have already noted that the concept of or-ganised crime now routinely employed in these debates replicates the one used in public and policy debates elsewhere in the western world (see Naylor, 2004; Paoli & Fijnaut, 2004). In this form, and perhaps because of it, it has never ceased to capture the centre stage of crime and disorder debates in Greece since the early 1990s and up to the most recent general election of 4 October 2009. Just as migrants seemed to take over the city streets and everyday life of Greece, the media were quick to adopt the idea of transnational mafias taking over the Greek underworld (e.g., Nikolakopoulos, 1997; Mandrou, 1999; Tsarouchas, 2002). And indeed, important policy measures targeting illegal migration have been advanced through invoking the threat of transnational mafias. Examples are: the creation of a special Border Guard agency (Papanicolaou, 2006), or even substantive revisions of the Greek penal code (e.g., L.2928/2001, see Lambropoulou, 2003, pp. 83–84). Under different cir-cumstances, such policy developments would have been met with significant opposition.

It appears, therefore, that the social purpose of the discrepancy that concerns us involves a process of legitimation through mystification, as it were. It follows that its explanation requires an examina-tion of the objective significance of criminalised migratory movements within Greek society—in oth-er words, of that which the current term organised crime appears to obscure. The present chapter is our initial attempt to address this question and to indicate and rehearse the direction of our future ef-forts. Our aim is to question the prevalent notion of organised crime by exploring how the social organisation of human smuggling and trafficking is adaptive and functional to structures of the Greek economy. Drawing on our previous work, the chapter is based on a variety of official and unofficial sources of data: official statistics from the Greek authorities; interviews with law enforcement agen-cies; interviews with migrants and employers of documented and undocumented migrants as well as interviews with two migrant smugglers.

2. The issue with migration in Greece, 1990–2009

It is appropriate to begin our account with a general overview of the issue of migration and migrants in Greece without differentiating between types of migratory movements individuals may be involved in. This may include legal or illegal migration as well as exploitative situations such as human traf-ficking. This initial general stance is justified both by the lack of accurate data and the difficulty to distinguish between those who are forced to migrate for political, religious or other reasons and those who migrate for purely economic reasons (Gent, 2002). Therefore the term migrants refers here in a neutral way to all economic immigrants: political refugees, asylum seekers and immigrant ethnic Greeks and includes individuals whose country of origin varies considerably, from countries of the former soviet bloc to Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But in the Greek context the term migrant has acquired a very particular flavour after 1990. It has been associated with non-western European mi-grants. These have been overwhelmingly the ones around whom negative understandings of the oth-er coalesce. These non-EU nationals are of course those who are primarily restricted by the legal framework of migration and are also targeted by law enforcement in Greece.

Greeces transformation in the 1990s
Levels of migration to Greece had been low historically, and in the 1970s and 1980s they were fuelled primarily by return migration of Greek people from Western European or other countries that received the earlier large Greek migratory wave in the 1950s and 1960s. Additionally, the numbers of EEC nationals or others who on the basis of bilateral or multilateral agreements entered Greece legally for work or as refugees and asylum seekers were also relatively low. Although official data and estimates vary according to the source, the population of foreign nationals (legally) resident in Greece was around 200.000 in 1989 (Linardos-Rylmon, 1993; Petriniotis, 1993).

 The situation changed dramatically after 1989 due to the geopolitical changes of that time. There was a sudden change in the influx of migrants with the arrival of large numbers of Greek expatriates, after the Soviet Union had relaxed regulations concerning travel abroad. These people were not only of Greek ethnic origin but were also in their vast majority legal migrants, who entered Greece with valid travel documents and enjoyed a special status leading to fast-track naturalisation after legisla-tive changes in 1991.

 But the vast majority of migrants to Greece after the late 1980s have not been of Greek descent, a characteristic which gave rise to a unique situation in the countrys history. Firstly, in an abrupt end to a long historical pattern, Greece was transformed from a sending to a receiving country. Secondly, the vast majority of migrants were Eastern Europeans, particularly Albanian nationals, who entered the country and its labour market illegally. Thirdly, it appears that the Greek economy was in a position to employ the migrants primarily in low-status, low paid jobs in the primary and secondary sectors of the economy, or, especially in the case of women, domestic services, and could increasingly do so throughout the 1990s, as it was set on a course of convergence with the European average. Increas-ingly, Greece also became a destination or transit country for people migrating from other regions such as Africa or the Greater Middle East and, to a lesser extent, Southeast Asia.

The migrant population

It is extremely difficult to provide accurate figures regarding the number of migrants as there is (still) an unknown number of undocumented migrants in the country. The generation of estimates is still an important preoccupation in the efflorescing literature on migration (Kyriakou, 2004; see, e.g. IMEPO, 2008), but these vary according to the chosen methodology. In addition, they also reflect the results of the consecutive legalisation programmes implemented after the mid-1990s. Indicatively, the number of illegal migrants has been estimated to 471.000 in 1995, around 300.000 in 2001, between 227 and 235 thousand in 2004 and between 184 and 275 thousand in 2005 (IMEPO, 2008). All these estimates converge to the suggestion that the number of illegal migrants as proportion of the total population residing in Greece is considerably high.

As far as demographic characteristics are concerned, and to get an idea of the dramatic change of Greeces social outlook since 1992, it is safer to examine the data regarding documented migrants. According to the most recent Greek Census, in 2001 the total of documented migrants was 693.837 (ESYE, 2001). With a total population of 10.964.020, migrants at that time constituted 6,4% of the total population of Greece. The largest migrant group by far were Albanians, which constituted 63,7% of the total documented migrants population, and were followed by Bulgarians, Georgians, Romani-ans, Russians and Ukrainians. The rest of the migrant groups constituted less than 2% of the total migrant population each apart from the general group Others, who are the 6.3 per cent of the migrant population (Table 1).

According to data by Greeces National Statistical Service (the former ESYE) the majority of docu-mented migrants in Greece are male (2001). Specifically, out of 693.837 documented migrants, 388.776 are male and 305.061 female. Given that the total male and female population of Greece is 5.431.816 and 5.532.204, respectively, male migrants constitute 7,1% cent of the total male popula-tion, and female migrants constitute 5,5% of the total female population. The representation of male and female migrants in each migrant group is, however, different, as there are some groups composed mostly of men, and others mostly of female members. The proportion of male and female members in the Albanian community, as mentioned the largest migrant community in Greece, is 59% and 41%, respectively. Finally, there are some groups that are almost exclusively composed of male members such as the Bangladeshi (96,6% male), Pakistani (95,7% male), and Indians (92,8% male) (ESYE, 2001). As far as the age distribution of migrants is concerned, more than half of migrants are younger than thirty years old (51,7%), whereas the vast majority (91%) are below the age of forty-four.

The concentration of the migrant population of Greece in specific geographical areas is almost identical to the concentration of the Greek population. Specifically, the largest percentage of migrants (44,2%) live and work in the greater Athens area, whereas 15% live and work in the area of Central Macedonia, and specifically in the city of Thessaloniki. These areas are followed by the peripheries of the Peloponnese, Sterea Ellada, Thessaly, Crete, and Western Greece. Over 80% of this population is concentrated in urban areas (Kritikidis, 2004).

The immigrant population of Athens is characterised by considerable variety. According to the 2001 Census, Albanians constitute the majority in the migrant population and total up to about 5% of the total Athens population. But Athens and the nearby prefecture of East Attika comprise a very var-ied mixture of nationalities including not only Eastern Europeans, such as Polish, Bulgarians, Roma-nians and Ukrainians, but also a significant presence of Pakistanis, Iraqi, Turks and Filipinos. In East Attika, Pakistanis and Indians are surprisingly represented with a large proportion, namely 3.4% and 3.0%, respectively (Baldwin-Edwards, 2005).

The above characteristic and the fact that immigrants are estimated to take up some 25% of the rented housing market (Baldwin-Edwards, 2005) which is itself concentrated in inner city areas, per-haps account to a large extent for the negative representations of migration and migrants. This is espe-cially the case among the native population of Greeces capital, which apart from the majority of pol-icy makers includes the countrys most powerful opinion makers. But it will become evident immedi-ately that it is in the actions of the former group that the causes of the explosion of the issue of migra-tion should be sought.

Legislative responses to the issue of migration in Greece since 1991

It would not be an exaggeration to state that the sudden reversal of the historical patterns of migration to and from Greece was met by a distinctively disorganised reaction of the Greek state. This gave rise to legislative action that complicated rather than attempted to resolve issues. The large numbers of Albanians entering the country in 1991 generated a sense of threat and urgency. Under this pressure in the same year new legislation was introduced (L.1975/1991) to replace the existing 1929 legislation and address the issue. The character of that early response has defined the subsequent approach to and the (negative) perception of the migration. Since then migrants have been seen to pose a national se-curity threat and have been stereotyped as dangerous. Consequently they have been discriminated against and excluded, and ultimately, they have been severely criminalised.

Under the weight of numbers, a first legalisation programme was implemented with the presiden-tial decrees 358 and 359 of 1997, and was put into effect in 1998. These decrees established a process of temporary legalisation embodied in the obtainment of, firstly, a white card (Lefki Karta) that would then lead to the obtainment of a green card (Prasini Karta), a card of limited duration stay. In effect, obtaining the white card was a requirement for someone to obtain a green card. Presiden-tial Decree 358 of 1997 set the requirements as well as the procedures for the legal stay and employ-ment in Greece of foreigners, who were not citizens of a European Union Member State. For a mi-grant to obtain a white card several conditions had to be satisfied, but this would often be impossi-ble, due to practical obstacles. For example, migrants needed to have a passport, or an ID card, not an easy task given that many identification papers were kept by those smuggling the migrants in the country. And (in some cases) if they had an ID, it was seized or torn into pieces by the police during checks. The obtainment of the white card also required the submission of a social security stamp book (Vivliario), or a proof of application for one. However, this was very rare under the sometimes extremely exploitative conditions maintained by Greek employers, an issue to which we shall return shortly. The employers who were willing to pay the migrants social security contributions were in-deed very few, and were limited only to those having the same migrants as their employees for a long period of time and for a series of works, and who did not want them to be deported (see, e.g., Kap-salis, 2004).

Finally, migrants arriving in the country after the 28th November 1997 when the decrees came into action were not eligible for a white card (and in consequence the green card). With criteria like these the legal entry for a number of migrants after the enactment of these two Presidential Decrees was virtually impossible. As a consequence a very large number of migrants were not recorded, and 75% of those recorded were not able to obtain a green card (see Youth Against Racism – Greece, 2000). At any rate, this first legalisation process occurred within conditions of a “complex culture of discretion... [with] nationalist and neo-entrepreneurial overtone. [The state] do not perceive immi-grants as their clients, but the local employers and Greek society as a whole” (Jordan, Stråth, & Tri-andafyllidou, 2003, p. 383).

The subsequent Laws on Aliens 2910/2001 and 3386/2005 have been credited with extending some rights to migrants, such as the right to be informed in a language they understand of the reasons for their detention, and with safeguarding some other civil rights, such as the right to social security, and creating an obligation to provide nine years of education for migrant children, including the chil-dren of undocumented migrants. The 2001 Law, which introduced a system of Green Card II, still encouraged the identification of migration with a public order and national security issues. It also failed to address issues of trafficking and forced labour (and prostitution). It had no realistic mecha-nism for labour recruitment (Baldwin-Edwards, 2004, p. 6). In addition, it also failed to curb long delays in the process as well the culture of discretion, despite some transfer of competence for the issue of residence permits to local authorities.

Overall, these legislative changes made it very difficult for migrants who were not already residing in the country before 2001 and 2004, respectively, to become lawful residents. Overall, migration to Greece continues to be seen either as a historic phenomenon that was officially ended when the 2005 law came into force. Actually this immigration law is seen as a way of permanently defining who is entitled to stay in Greece. In so doing, it provides for the creation of an army of disaffected migrants, a large number of which exist in a limbo between legality and illegality. Incidentally, the presidential decrees of 1997, and the laws 2910/2001 and 3386/2005 focus on the management on migrants as labour force, while simultaneously limiting important work rights such as seeking a job in every part of the Greek territory.
Further dimensions of the legislative response
We are now able to begin our assessment of the response to the issue of migration in the Greek case and recognise how the general situation of migrants in Greece has been conditioned by the − pre-sumably rational − response of the state.

Firstly, the entry of these populations has been connected with the formation of new relatively isolated social spaces. These were particularly to be found near central areas of Greeces urban cen-tres, where migrants congregated in search of cheap housing. These areas have also a relative security from the persecution of the authorities, as they are not so frequently policed. Also important is the easier access to employment, since these neighbourhoods assumed the character of an open air labour market. Psimmenos (2004; Psimmenos, 2000), in his studies of the living conditions and the social exclusion of migrant workers in Athens, has understood these areas of congregation as periphractic spaces (fenced–off spaces): hidden from the public eye and organised around the places where down-graded mass accommodation could be found. Such collective spaces form an amorphous environ-ment full of physical and moral humiliation and unable to care for the physical, spiritual and emo-tional needs of the population (Psimmenos, 2000, p. 92). These extreme conditions of social exclu-sion and isolation have also been found in a series of other studies (Lazaridis & Romaniszyn, 1998; Lazaridis, 1999; Labrianidis & Lyberaki, 2001).

Secondly, it should be evident from our analysis above that the Greek states share of the responsi-bility in the perpetuation of these conditions has been substantial. The common denominator of all the legislative initiatives since the beginning of the 1990s has been the consistent raising of barriers deny-ing immigrants opportunities for integration in the countrys economic and social life under the organ-ised supervision of the state (see, e.g. Amnesty International, 2005). In fact, a careful review of the various legislative measures suggests that the primary rationale of state intervention related more to the political and perhaps narrowly fiscal consequences of the presence of a large foreign population within Greek territory. The question of integration to the countrys economic and social life remained virtually untouched by legislative hands.

In fact, one needs to recognise how at the level of legislative rationale the immigration laws consti-tute a relatively coherent whole. It is important to realise that the legislation dealt with human smug-gling and trafficking as a criminal offence, introduced in the wake of the 2000 UN Convention on Organised Crime. For example, the provisions of the special anti-trafficking legislation introduced in 2002, Law 3064/2002, despite taking an aggressive stance towards trafficking offenders, are at the same time rife with reservations about the victims standing. The victim must exhibit a willingness to cooperate with the authorities as witness against the traffickers if any modifications to his/her status as an illegal alien are to be effected. While victims of trafficking formally constitute for the purposes of that legislation a special category of third country nationals, the procedure is conditioned by the vic-tims value to the investigative procedure. The issuing of the special stay permit for victims of traf-ficking depends in the first instance on the characterisation of the individual as victim by the public prosecutor; a reflection period is also granted by a special order of the public prosecution service, depending on the results of the police screening. The actual issuing of the stay permit depends on whether the extension of the stay of the said person is deemed expedient, in order to facilitate the ongoing investigation or penal process, whether the above person has demonstrated clear will to cooperate, or whether the individual has broken all relations with the alleged traffickers. Con-versely, the stay permit is not extended or is recalled, when the authorities (the prosecution service) considers that the cooperation or report of the victim is malevolent or abusive, or when the victim stops cooperating.

The regression to the status of an unwanted alien always being a possibility when the victims failed to cooperate with the investigative authorities, shows that the victims status is merely instru-mental to the investigation and prosecution. It is evident that any considerations regarding the welfare of the victim and the provision of support have been entirely foreign to the rationale of the law (Pa-panicolaou, forthcoming). This has given rise to consistent and documented highly problematic pat-terns in the treatment of trafficking victims by the authorities (Amnesty International, 2005; Amnesty International, 2007).

3. Employment, migrants and the social organisation of migration

The preceding discussion should have made sufficiently clear that firstly, the legislative treatment of migration to Greece is the formalisation of a continuum from discrimination and negation to crimi-nalisation of migratory movements. It is had an intimate relation with discourses about the grave threat of organised crime. Secondly, with the factors influencing migratory flows being equal, any (non-EU) migratory movements to and within Greece have been treated as something involving a criminal irregularity. This valuation did not take account of different types or economic and social situations. In what follows, we proceed to evaluate the Greek states response to migration in the light of the position of migrants in the labour market and the social organisation of migratory flows into Greece.

The migrants in the Greek labour market

Research has shown that in the beginning of the 1990s, documented migrants in Greece were mainly employed in restaurants and hotels, with fewer numbers in the field of transportation and industry (Petriniotis, 1993). According to Linardos-Rylmon (1993, p. 16), the biggest percentage of undocu-mented migrants was employed in seasonal agricultural or fishing works, or as cleaners and builders (construction). They were paid less than half the wage of a Greek worker. Given that employers did not pay social security contributions, and could hire and fire them at will, the real labour cost may have been, as low as one quarter of the Greek rate (King et al., 1998). There were certainly instances in which the difference may have been even greater.

The last Greek census did not show any difference as to the sectors of employment of migrants, but rather in the patterns of employment of migrant groups. Predictably, male migrants are employed in labour intensive industries: construction and agriculture and fishing works, as well as industry, commerce, removals, mining, and tourism or as street vendors. There were also two small catego-ries/sectors of employment called uncertain and other (ESYE, 2001; Kritikidis, 2004).

In respect to specific migrant groups, Albanian male migrants, who have been characterised as the helots of our days (Lazaridis, 1999), were primarily employed in construction (about 70,000), and agriculture (about 40.000), and a further 40.000 are employed in industry and tourism (ESYE, 2001). Albanians are also the migrant group most heavily involved in running a small business of them-selves. According to the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 26,1% of foreigners enrolled come from Albania (Galanopoulos & Dionysopoulou, 2003).

Some nationalities are over-represented in the industry sector, such as Pakistanis and Bangla-deshis, whereas other groups are over-represented in agriculture, for example, Indians and Bulgarians. Markova and Sarris (1997) suggest that Bulgarian men were primarily employed in fruit picking in Northern Greece, although there was a number of Bulgarians, who pick strawberries in southern Greece as well. Poles and Georgians are primarily employed in the construction industry, together with Romanians and Russians. There is also a dynamic presence of the Russians and the Ukrainians in the fur industry of Greece, and specifically in Northern Greece (Chtouris & Psimmenos, 1998; Psim-menos & Georgoulas, 1999).

Maghrebians are employed in industry, construction and tourism, whereas members of the Sub-Saharan African communities, such as Ethiopians and Zairians, are often employed as assistants in restaurants, confectioners, flower shops, and car parks, as well as housekeepers (see Marvakis, Par-sanoglou, & Pavlou, 2001). There is, however, a small number of Nigerians, who work as doctors and journalists (Ode, 2001). Moreover, there are a number of Sub-Saharan Africans, and Chinese migrants who work as street vendors selling CDs, toys, and other ornaments at the bazaars and flea markets—a situation not unknown elsewhere (e.g., Nelken, 2006). Finally, there are about 14.000 migrants, who are employed as seamen on Greek commercial ships. Most of these seamen are from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and the Philippines (SOPEMI, 1997).

Generally, the majority of women migrants are employed as domestic servants, babysitters, care-takers, and in agriculture. Albanian female migrants are primarily employed in agriculture and as domestic servants, as workers in small and medium industries, and as cleaners. A significant number of them are unemployed or housewives (ESYE, 2001; Hatziprokopiou, 2003). Bulgarian females are typically employed in agriculture, tourism and in domestic services, and so are Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian and Georgian women. Philippino women almost exclusively work as domestic servants. The percentage of Philippino women, who follow this line of employment exceeds 90%, according to data from the ESYE (2001). Fakiolas and Maratou-Alipranti (Fakiolas & Maratou-Alipranti, 2000) suggest that Philippino women are preferred as domestic servants to other nationalities because of their bilingual skills, which allows them to answer the telephone and communicate with guests, as well as to help the children of the family with their English.

Finally, an issue which was brought to the centre stage of public concern, particularly in the sec-ond half of the 1990s involved the number of women working in the sex industry and the conditions under which this had occurred. It would not be an exaggeration to state that the first main public pol-icy debate concerning the notion of organised crime concerned sex trafficking. The concern about this phenomenon was instrumental for the comprehensive introduction of the provisions of the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime in Greek criminal law in the early 2000s (Dimitrainas, 2003; Papanicolaou, 2008). This development had been preceded by considerable media coverage of the issue, and also considerable mobilisation of civil society and other international actors (Papanico-laou, 2008; Papanicolaou, forthcoming). However, the actual evidence about the extent of migrant womens involvement in the sex industry and about the conditions of their exploitation has been dis-puted. It is certain that the influx of migrant women radically reversed the ethnic composition within the sex industry. However, the generation of estimates about the number of women involved in the sex industry, showing a rise from just over 2000 in 1990 to a population of over 20.000 in 2000 (La-zos, 2002; Lazos, n.d.), has been criticised for methodological obscurity (Papanicolaou, 2008; Sykiotou, 2009). Furthermore, another heavily contested issue has regarded the extent of forced pros-titution as well as the nature and the role of transnational organised crime (Lazaridis, 2001; Lazos, 2002).

We shall review shortly some of the available evidence about the presence of organised crime in the labour market and its connection with migratory flows. In our view the assessment of the situation should essentially begin with an overview of the distribution of migrant labour in the various sectors of the Greek economy. The preceding discussion, which draws from data recorded by the 2001 census and other sources, strongly suggests that migrants have been mostly confined to performing unskilled manual labour within the more traditional or labour intensive sectors of the economy (OECD, 2001; Kritikidis, 2003; Baldwin-Edwards, 2004). In these sectors they have been over-represented compared to the indigenous labour force (Table 2). Baldwin-Edwards (2008) has found that the overall trend since 2001 has rather involved a movement away from the agricultural sector into construction, household and cleaning and tourism (a trend which for the beginning of the decade can be related with the organisation of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens), rather than towards occupational variety.
One should take into account the extent of the informal economy, which in Greece is strongly associ-ated with the labour intensive sectors where migrant labour has been concentrated. Add to this the general lack of the enforcement of tax, social security and social welfare legislation. One may then understand more clearly why the Greek states prolonged indifference to the migrants economic and social situation engendered extreme exploitative and exclusionary conditions. Of course, the employ-ment and exploitation involving violation of labour and social security legislation can be considered as a common characteristic of both indigenous and migrant black labour. However, the thorough so-cial marginalisation of migrant population was directly connected to the prohibitions instituted by the state: the latter induced a exclusive reliance on informal or illegal networks in order to satisfy the demand for labour2.  As Linardos-Rylmon observed in 1993:

“[t]he question of the responsibility of the state is not theoretical. A significant part of exchanges is taking place under conditions whose ingredient is the lack of legality. Specifically, the lack of le-gality as precondition for immigration to become a movement of labour force totally controlled, not only in relation with their wages but also in relation with the totality of its conditions of exis-tence. . . The Greek experience shows that in many cases it is possible to satisfy the demand for cheap labour by legal means, while the rigid prohibition creates now the conditions for the devel-opment of illegal networks that come to offer a labour force that is dispersed in turn to the rest of the economy” (Linardos-Rylmon, 1993, pp. 21, 25).

4. How much organised crime?

Before we proceed to consider available research evidence regarding the nature of the relation be-tween migration and organised crime and the extent to which such relation exists, it is highly in-structive to enrich the preceding discussion with an overview of the nature and results of law en-forcement activities against these real or imagined threats.

As law enforcement agencies lacked in the early 1990s any concept of organised crime resem-bling that typically used elsewhere, the initial fire-brigade style response had to do more with the con-trol of a visibly exploding population. The most common measure, which is still being widely used even today, has been the so-called sweep operation. As the word indicates, the police would simply stop and detain any migrants congregating in public places particularly in cities. The detainees would then be forwarded to the border for expulsion (see Petriniotis, 1993, p. 16). As records for the results of these operations have not always been available, various sources report different numbers or come to different estimates. An early 1993 study, referring to a Ministry of Public Order source, reported 167.204 repatriations of Albanian nationals between 1991 and June 1992 (Linardos-Rylmon, 1993, p. 16). Another report (Karydis, 1996), quoting a press source, mentioned a total of 948.956 Albanian nationals repatriated (re–forwarded) between 1991–1995. Other calculations indicate that between 1990 and 1996 about 1,1 million Albanians had been deported (Lambropoulou, 2000).

These reports should not be taken as unrealistic. Between 2001 to 2008, the Hellenic Police and the Hellenic Coast arrested 794.137 migrants for illegal entry and/or residence in Greece. The major-ity of those migrants (527.080, or approximately 66%) were Albanians (Table 3). Albanians were followed by nationals of Asian countries (Iraqi, Afghani, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, etc.) as well as Afri-cans (Somali, Egyptians, etc.). It is also interesting to note that from 2001 to 2006 there were 9.479 and 10.255 arrestees from Bulgaria and Romania (two countries that were admitted in the EU in 2007), respectively.


These are numbers of arrestees only: evidently, there is at all times a largely unknown number of un-documented migrants, who either reside in Greece or travel without documents through Greece. This stock is continuously renewed, despite the heightened policing of border areas and sea routes and also despite the restriction of their opportunities within Greece. Migrants still enter the country because they would do anything to escape hunger and persecution in their home countries (see e.g. Kitsan-tonis, 2009). The futility of fire brigade style measures is somehow underscored by the degree of cross-border return mobility of those expelled. Particularly the Albanian nationals simply cross the border again the next day.
Overall, the rigid framework of immigration law in Greece, the treatment of irregular migrants as a security risk, and the contribution of Greece to Fortress Europe, have resulted among other things in (a) the high numbers of migrants deported from Greece, (b) a low number of asylum applications compared to other countries of the EU, (c) the small percentage of successful applications, and (d) a high number of deaths (see Moulopoulos, 2009).

Migrant smuggling

While the sheer volume of people involved in cross-border movement underscores that the nature of the process is as disorganised as it is desperate, migrants often resort to smugglers and take the asso-ciated personal risks as well as the infringement of their rights during the smuggling process. As Rebwar, a Kurdish migrant from Iraq and close friend of one of us, put it: “. . . the kaçakçi do good. How could we come here if it wasnt for the kaçakçi?” (Antonopoulos & Winterdyk, 2006, p. 448).

According to official police statistics, the majority of arrested people smugglers in Greece are Greeks. Specifically, they constituted 58,4% of arrested smugglers in the first eight months of 2000 and 53,2 % in the first eight months of 2001. Albanian nationals are also heavily involved in the smuggling of migrants, primarily from Albania. They accounted for 16,1% in the first eight months of 2000, and 25,2% in the first eight months of 2001. The third nationality in terms of arrested migrant smugglers is Turks, who accounted for 7,4% and 6,9% of the arrested human smugglers in the first eight months of 2000 and of 2001, respectively. Bulgarians, Iraqis, Romanians and Russians are also involved (Antonopoulos, 2009). According to official data which were made available recently3,  the majority of arrested smugglers in the first 8 months of 2009 are now foreign nationals (Hellenic Po-lice, 2009). Nevertheless, the participation of Greek national is considerable and accounts for the 21% of the arrestees, whereas Albanians and Turks comprise 41% of the population of arrestees (Hellenic Police, 2009).

Human trafficking

The information that the Hellenic Police began to make available about human trafficking after the introduction of special legislation in 2002 offers a less conclusive picture about the extent and nature of (cross border) organised crime.

Firstly, data about the number of identified offenders (the number of individuals being investi-gated), tabulated by country of origin, are usually made available each year alongside the rest of the information about victims and forms of cooperation with other agencies (see, e.g. Hellenic Police, n.d.). Table 4 presents the data for 2003-2008, which include offenders of all forms of human traffick-ing. In the course of these years, the Hellenic Police has encountered diverse forms, such as labour trafficking or baby trafficking. For example, the OC report for 2004 includes a particular mention to both these forms, as a number of criminal networks had been targeted and dismantled successfully in that year. It notes however, that in the case of baby trafficking the investigations had not been suc-cessful in discovering details about the Greek baby adoption demand side. With the above qualifica-tion, and similarly to the data on human smuggling it can be observed that while the data for the 5-year period reveal an involvement of Romanian, Albanian Bulgarian, Russian to a lesser extent, and Ukrainian nationals to some significant extent. But the majority of trafficking offenders, almost 60% of the total number of investigated individuals have been Greek nationals.



Significance of official data

The now discontinued annual reports of the Hellenic Police on Organised Crime have offered an overview of the national situation by compiling the yearly activity reports by the various divisions of the Hellenic Police. While a number of doubtful distinctions4 have been superimposed on the raw data (which were not made available), they were important in that they offered some information about the social organisation of organised crime, such as the size and structure of criminal organisations, as well as their modus operandi. Their definition of organised crime found in article 187 of the Greek Penal Code which was introduced by Law 2928/2001 speaks of a structured and continuously active group (organisation) of three or more members that purports to commit specifically named felonies (see the report, p.37 and also Hellenic Parliament, 2001). This is roughly in accordance with the inter-national definition of organised crime (Convention on TOC). Casting the police data in this mould, the police reports offer information on the number of members of the criminal organisations that were targeted each year by the Hellenic Police.

As it can be seen in Table 5, the majority of investigated criminal organisations barely exceed the legislative threshold of three members. More than two thirds of these groups involve 6 members or less, which appears to be approximately the average membership of human trafficking groups (as ratio of suspects to investigated groups) (Hellenic Police, 2004; Hellenic Police, 2005; Hellenic Police, 2006).

Because of their obvious limitations, the statistics cited here offer indications only, and they should be treated with caution. At a minimum, they may leave out a potentially large number of persons operat-ing in countries other than Greece. This may distort the picture of smuggling networks. As a matter of fact, Kurdish immigrants in Greece, as well as Kurdish people smugglers, for instance, suggested that there were Pakistanis, Syrians and Turks as well as Greeks in their smuggling groups, all involved in a coordinated effort. Furthermore, the fact that many individuals arrested for these offences in Greece are Greek nationals may simply be the result of their greater exposure to the national authorities (An-tonopoulos & Winterdyk, 2006). In addition, variations in arrest totals evidently reflect not only the productivity of the authorities but also their shifting priorities. Evidently, the same observation applies for the case of human trafficking.

Smuggling, trafficking and the migration process

Nevertheless, since these are the official data made available, full sense must be made of what they reveal, especially when one considers the rhetorics surrounding organised crime and the threat it poses. Firstly, if organisational membership is an indication of the extent of threat an organised crimi-nal group poses because of its purported power, then one must conclude that the imagery of powerful clandestine criminal organisations conjured up by official discourses appears quite unwarranted. Sec-ondly, the indisputable considerable degree of involvement of Greek national does indicate that the process of human smuggling and trafficking is not taking place in the absence of indigenous agents, but rather it involves them as active and critical components. Thirdly, qualifying this criminal com-mercial conduct does add to a desired threat imagery, but has no explanatory value.

Significantly, what we know about the social organisation of human smuggling and trafficking and the ways migrants find their way in the informal economy moves us away from the usual TOC image. Empirically we must move away from the idea that what is involved in the phenomenon relates to robust, ethnically homogeneous organisational forms. Firstly, with regard to the smuggling of mi-grants into Greece, the typical case involves loose forms of cooperation between groups. In its sim-plest form, when there is no need for great sophistication, individuals simply bring the bulk of mi-grants to the intended destination. As Greece is both a transit and a destination country, this may en-tail a smuggler-to-smuggler approach that does not allow any individuals to be lost during the process. Depending on difficulties or the presence of obstacles as the process unfolds, other individuals or groups that may have been unrelated to the original smugglers may take over the smuggling operation (Antonopoulos & Winterdyk, 2006). This conduct is what one would expect from a network approach to the organisation of crime. This general configuration of the process clearly explains both the strong presence of Greek nationals in the population of smuggling arrestees.  Naturally these individuals who know the smuggling map of the region, are likely to hold a key position in the moving of migrants via the maritime routes in and out of Greece. Similarly, it accounts for the very strong presence of nationals of the neighbouring Albania and Turkey.

The situation with trafficking, whose definition in the Greek penal Code (art.323A) now matches closely that introduced by the 2000 UN Convention5,  is more obscure, since the problem is not so much related to the ways by which trafficked persons enter the country (as these may be legal), but rather to the places and ways they are being exploited within the Greek territory. These may include legal and illegal bars, nightclubs, brothels, construction sites, sweatshops and other small businesses, as well as activities in the streets, as in the case of informal street selling of CD/DVDs, lighters and other gadgets, and of services such as window washing and so on. A potentially key point in the un-derstanding of the labour situation regards the social profile of the businesses where migrants may be found in conditions of extreme exploitation. This is in the first place of importance because exploita-tion is a component of the UN Palermo Convention. In the second place, it reinforces the idea of mafia–type of transnational organisations, ruthlessly exploiting their victims. However, Greek as well as international research point to typically small groups6.  The groups are likely to be intercon-nected and heterogeneous overall as the space they have to cover is by the nature of the core business (foreign labour) large. In the end there are significant ties with legitimate end–points: the market of end users for the cheap labour service. Whether licit or illicit, their output consists of cheap licit out-put for mainly local customers. Hence, a strong indigenous presence is indispensable to the whole exploitative process. In other words, the circuit of exploitation is embedded in (a) the whole chain of handling illicit labour and (b) the economic situation of small-scale business and entrepreneurship (Papanicolaou, 2008).

This understanding is congruent with research results obtained from the examination of the social organisation of various illegal markets as well as the provision of other illicit services in Greece. This concern among others the trafficking of goods such as cigarettes, stolen cars and car spares. Official accounts tend to underplay the significance of the indigenous elements in the processes involved. They shy particularly away from the overlap of the shady activities of labour providers and establish-ments associated with legitimate businesses and entrepreneurship. Thus, in the case of the stolen car market, for example, we have noted that the business would not be viable without the legitimate ac-tors, who are essential in orchestrating the criminal network. These legitimate actors drift from legal-ity to illegality and back always within the confines and protection of their legal business (An-tonopoulos & Papanicolaou, 2009).

Furthermore, the shift of focus that this approach entails acknowledges the need to disengage from the terminological and conceptual minefields spawned by recent attempts to define the various types of migration in isolation from the conditions within which it takes place. It involves a move towards an understanding of migratory movements not merely as an outcome, but rather as a process of a complex undertaking. On the part of the migrants it is complicated as it depends critically on the envi-ronment within which it takes place. Where will the end result fall on the continuum between safety and harm or extreme exploitation (see Bangladesh Thematic Group on Trafficking, 2004)? It follows that an analysis of the economic, social and legal environment of the migratory destination is indis-pensable.

5. The economic significance of smuggling and trafficking

As the preceding analysis situates the issues of smuggling and trafficking within the wider process of migration, we can now proceed with a more concrete examination of the economic, social and institu-tional environment within which this process has taken place in Greece.

The positive contribution of (legal and illegal) migrants to the Greek economy and even the rapid economic recovery in the 1990s is hardly questioned, despite the rather limited data flow and the rela-tive scarcity of research (in comparison to Western Europe and North America). A study of migration policy conducted for the General Confederation of Greek Workers has noted how “it is clear that [as regards the relation between migration and economic development] the economic developments of the past 10–15 years would have followed a rather different course, had the migrants that were so quickly integrated in economic activity not been available” (Linardos-Rylmon, 2003b, p. 10).

 As far as labour markets are concerned, the case of Greece appears to confirm that there is no rela-tionship between migration and unemployment (Baldwin-Edwards, 2002). Nor is there an overall effect of migration on the level of wages, with the exception of unskilled labour. Econometric studies have shown that, as far as relations of income distribution are concerned, (illegal) migration is mac-roeconomically beneficial. It also impacts beneficially the better-off classes of Greek households in terms of real disposable income. It allows households to reduce expenses so that those that were for-merly rich become richer under illegal immigration. However, Greek urban households headed by an unskilled person are likely to lose income (and jobs) due to the influx of illegal migrants, even though, under different scenarios, they could also obtain better incomes from other sources such as self em-ployment (Sarris & Zografakis, 1999).

It appears, therefore, that the influx of migrant labour has provided a unique opportunity for the satisfaction of demand for cheap labour in a series of productive sectors of the Greek economy. These included agriculture, with migrant workers being involved in the formation of a waged-labour popula-tion in the countryside for the first time after several decades7.  Also manufacture benefits: construc-tion and services, where low wages played a role in the ability of these enterprises to sustain competi-tiveness. In addition, the redistribution of income in favour of certain social strata during the late 1980s made possible the employment of migrants in domestic services (Linardos-Rylmon, 2003b, p. 9).

 However, with the sectoral segregation of migrant labour as given, what needs to be explicitly questioned is the economic structure of the regions of Greek economy that primarily accommodated the influx of migrants. Although the knowledge gaps in this respect are quite pronounced, the existing literature does tend to emphasise the relation of (illegal) migration with the shadow economy (Bald-win-Edwards, 2002).

In the case of Greece, such a connection would firstly involve a significant amount of economic activity that takes place in the country, since estimates of the shadow economys extent have ranged between 25–30% of Greeces GDP (see, e.g., Pavlopoulos, 1987). Secondly, and perhaps more impor-tantly, the connection would be mainly concentrated in labour intensive sectors of the economy, namely small manufacture and commercial enterprises (such as bars, night-clubs etc) as well as agri-culture. It is in those sectors that the idea of informal economy applies in Greece and abroad). It en-compasses a wide range of illegal practices aimed at labour cost reduction by violating legislated standards regarding terms of employment, minimum wages, social security contributions and labour regulation (see Sakellaropoulos, 2001, p. 193; Vettori, 2009).

In this light, it is possible to situate most forms of the exploitation of migrant labour within known and widely diffused indigenous economic practices in the 1990s. To explain these mechanisms there is no need for transnational mafias terminology. While the absence of any legal (and perhaps moral) status certainly removed employers inhibitions, the experiences of migrants are nevertheless situated on a continuum of practices from which Greek employees would not have been excluded. We do not of course deny the fact that extreme-harm outcomes in the migratory process of an unknown number of individuals have occurred. Rather what we wish to assert is that these outcomes rather than excep-tional and isolated, are related to the general conditions under which migration to Greece, as a desti-nation country, occurs. Such an approach would explain the Greek states prolonged indifference to the issue of humane migrant integration to the countrys economic and social structures. Evidently, the principle of least regulation has made perfect sense at a time when the intensive exploitation of migrant labour had been instrumental at revitalising important sectors of the economy that suffered most from the economic crisis of the 1980s. What remains to be explained is why, in the end of the 1990s and after, this prolonged indifference was replaced by a reconceptualisation of the issue as or-ganised crime and therefore with an increasingly aggressive punitive stance towards it.

6. Trafficker or not?—On the banalisation of organised crime

If only to reinforce the above puzzle, let us consider the following examples as a test of how the broad definition of trafficking which is now adopted by the Greek Penal Code virtually penetrates entire sectors of the economy to an extent that organised crime becomes omni-present (and perhaps en-tirely banal as concept):

The Greek part-time farmer/full-time public official
Alex is a 60-year-old retired police officer living in the prefecture of Achaia in N. Western Pelopon-nese. For approximately a week every November he has been picking olives in his olive-tree field and since the beginning of the 1990s he has employed undocumented and sometimes documented mi-grants primarily from Albania. The reason for his employing migrants is because “the Albanians are very hard-working, there are no Greeks who would work on the olive trees, and those who do, pick their own olives or those of their relatives”. Alex pays his employees 40 a day and provides lunch for them at the end of the day. Despite his acceptance that the workers should be paid more for the work they do, he considers the amount of 40 very large. The payment remains the same irrespectively whether the workers are undocumented or not.
The Romanian intermediary
Livi is a 35-year-old Romanian who migrated in Greece in 2007, and has been living with seven of his compatriots in a village in the prefecture of Ilia in western Peloponnese. Livi has been acting as an intermediary between the (potential) Greek employers and his Romanian compatriots due to having a better grasp of the Greek language that has resulted in a better relationship between him and the locals (potential employers) and the subsequent identification of him as the leader of the Romanians in the particular village. Livi has been arranging which Romanian migrants would work for which employer, and would receive a percentage of the payment from each of his compatriot for the brokerage. In addition, in periods when there is abundant work, Livi selects the job he will take up depending on the payment and the effort required. As one of the village residents and employer of the Romanian mi-grants noted: “Livi cuts the logs into pieces for an old lady and gets paid 10 for an hours work. Do you know what it is to get 10 for an hours work when another gets paid 20 for a whole day?”
The Bulgarian-Roma father
Ilya is a 38-year-old Bulgarian-Roma migrant who entered Greece with his wife and 5 children aged 9-15 in 2006. He has been working on seasonal agricultural works in several Greek prefectures and he has been paid for collecting pepper in the prefecture of Ilia every summer since 2006. This is consid-ered a very harsh agricultural work which requires bending and working under the intense Greek summer sun. Workers are not paid by the hour of work but by the quantity of pepper collected. Ilya asks his children and wife to collect the pepper while he lies under a tree listening to music and chat-ting with friends. He receives the full payment by the Greek pepper field owner for the quantity of pepper collected by his family.
The Greek public constructions subcontractor
Costas is a 29-year-old who works with his father, a public constructions subcontractor. Although his business has been reduced due to the financial crisis, as he notes, it is considered quite successful. In the summer of 2009, Costas and his father worked on the construction of a public road in the prefec-ture of Achaia. They employed Albanian and Greek workers on an ad hoc basis for the particular pro-ject, and they paid them 40 a day for their work. According to Costas, “this is an extremely low payment for the work they do since they work for much longer than 8 hours a day and they work un-der extremely harsh conditions with the temperature on the tarmac reaching as high as 60C”.

7. Some tentative conclusions: combating organised crime as eco-nomic strategy

We began this chapter by interrogating the discrepancy between the certainty with which official dis-courses refer to the threat organised crime presents for states and societies and what is actually known about the phenomena falling under the label organised crime. Drawing on available informa-tion and data and our own work in the Greek context, our inquiry regarding human smuggling and trafficking has resulted in a rather strange realisation: in fact, it is the official discourses, embodied in legislative measures and administrative attitudes and mentalities that magnify the very threat they pledge to quell. This magnification could take place despite the reaffirmation of the serious deficits in knowledge.

The problem with current approaches towards human smuggling and trafficking is that they view these phenomena in isolation from the context in which they occur. Smugglers and traffickers are active in the wider processes linking migration and labour markets. Therefore it is important to exam-ine the objective significance of (clandestine) migratory movements for the destination contexts in order to assess their role and the impact of their activities. Additionally, the fact that these individuals often rationalise their activities as a service (Antonopoulos & Winterdyk, 2005; Antonopoulos & Winterdyk, 2006) is perhaps an indicator of the objective role they hold both within these movements and within the economic circuits into which migrant labour is channelled. In some respects, and con-trary to the idea that their role is largely parasitic, they make a functional contribution to both, as far as they represent a factor of organisation in an otherwise chaotic process. In a sense, the term organ-ised crime may apply more to the effect these individuals and groups bring about in their environ-ment rather to describe the organisational forms their activities assume.

As regards our initial puzzle, we think that the idea of approaching these forms of organised crime within a political economic framework that acknowledges their objective significance for par-ticular sectors of the economy in the migratory destination country, complements in important ways available explanations of the escalating state reaction against these forms of criminality. In the case of Greece an initial, very popular explanation has been derived from the idea of a moral panic ignited by the sudden influx of large numbers of foreigners in a country which not only had been ethnically ho-mogeneous but also one that contributed to international migration as a sending country. The sudden change in its economic and social environment quickly generated stereotypes of the criminal mi-grant (see Karydis, 1996), and therefore organised crime policy would represent under this ap-proach a rational response at curbing the processes impacting migratory inflows. However, the ap-proach itself is far from rational.

A second more sophisticated explanation understands the development of more robust responses to the problem of organised crime as an effort of a section of the Greek policy-making elite to strengthen perceptions of the Greek states legitimacy amongst both domestic and foreign audiences (Xenakis, 2004, p. 345). Evidently, this type of explanation acknowledges fully the international con-text within which responses against organised crime have been institutionalised at the international level in the recent past. In this case the issue of organised crime offered an opportunity for domestic state elites to uphold and reinforce their legitimacy by presenting the state as acting for the common good. To a certain extent, this explanation also accounts for the implantation into the Greek institu-tional framework of a concept of organised crime that assimilates the one used elsewhere in western Europe and North America, an issue on which we have commented previously.

A third explanation is that viewing the illegal migration issue from the organised crime angle allows the Greek authorities to turn a blind eye to the informal or criminal underground economy. Admitting that this phenomenon is due to maladministration would entail creating a wider circle of fiscal and administrative transparency. This again would be entail addressing the widespread (politi-cal) corruption, which to the political parties would be tantamount to cutting in their own flesh. So, what is safer than beating the organised crime drum, which is praised by the media and international institutions alike?

While our approach does not refute the above explanations, it does offer a range of interesting possibilities by acknowledging the contribution of the organisation of crime to specific sectors of the Greek economy. That implies we do not need the official organised crime mould to describe the frictions and antagonisms of migrant labour influx within the countrys overall path of economic and social development. We have noted how the illegal organisation of the labour front fuelled those eco-nomic sectors that not only interface extensively with the shadow economy, but also constitute those parts of the Greek economy that are relatively backward and less open to modernisation. For these sectors, the exploitation of cheap migrant labour may have been a solution that suppressed costs and took them out of the 1980s crisis and back to profitability. Evidently, however, the results of such a strategy can only be temporary, and cannot, in a capitalist economy, be a substitute for development through the acceleration of productivity through investment and innovation. Indeed, it appears that the overall performance of Greek economy in the second half of the 1990s and after can be attributed to this last process (see Ioakimoglou & Milios, 2005). This implies that it is not organised crime, in whatever meaning of the word, which may harm the Greek society, but the general entrepreneurial attitude itself. In a landscape of lax and intransparent administration the entrepreneurial community chose the same easy and short-term solutions as the politicians. In both cases it was tantamount to resorting to illegality which no one in the upperworld likes to admit. Then, the easiest and cheapest avoidance strategy is clamping down on organised crime, mainly consisting of small-scale labour service providers to the same upperworld.

In this light, the escalation of policies aiming, within the same period, to disrupt organised crime, can be seen as a state economic strategy aiming to cater for the long term interest of economic devel-opment within an international environment marked by increased uncertainty and acute competition. To produce data capable of supporting work in this direction is a major challenge. Nevertheless, this type of political economy framework has the potential to yield enlightening results with regard to the process through which the threat of organised crime is socially constructed.
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1 The current article is an updated version of a chapter previously published in van Duyne et al., 2010.

 2 Van Duyne and Houtzager (2005) describe similar issues around organising black labour service.

 3 We have commented previously on the acute problems regarding the availability and quality of data in Greece (see, for example, Antonopoulos and Papanicolaou, 2009).

 4 For example, the distinction between homogeneous and heterogeneous criminal organisations on one hand, and the distinction between indigenous, non–indigenous and indigenous and non–indigenous on the other (see, e.g. Hellenic Police, 2006, p. 37). What made the problem worse is that the reports did not include cross-tabulations of the above two categories—something which would have resulted in much more meaningful information.

 5 Every person who, with the use of force, threat or any other means of coercion or through imposing or abus-ing power, hires, transports, promotes [transportation] within the country [Greece] or outside the country, de-tains, harbors, delivers with or without benefit in return, or receives from another a person for the purpose of removing organs from this persons body, or exploiting this persons labor for his/her benefit or for the benefit of another... (English translation obtained from IOM, no date).

 6 E.g. Labrianidis & Lyberaki (2001); Lazaridis (2001); Lazos (2002); Spencer (2007; 2008); Zaitch & Staring (2007) 

 7 In 2008, the mobilisation of migrant workers at strawberry plantations in Southwest Peloponnese was mak-ing headlines in Greece, and revealed the extent not only of the dependence of this niche agricultural sector on migrant labour (approximately 3.000 workers from Bulgaria, Romania and Bangladesh), but also of their miser-able conditions of living and exploitation with wages ranging between 3 to 5 per hour (see, e.g., Ta Nea, 2008).

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