Organized crime is spreading ever further into all areas of the European Union, the European police body Europol said in a report on Monday.

Never before has the threat to the EU and its citizens been so great, the European police agency warned on Monday in an analysis of organized crime presented in Lisbon.

There was a great danger that criminals would also exploit the coronavirus pandemic and its long-term economic and social consequences, it said.

These could be “ideal conditions” for criminals to target citizens, businesses and public entities, the report added.

Based on thousands of cases and data from investigators and security services across the EU, Europol experts produced the comprehensive analysis.

Seventy per cent of the gangs and networks are active in at least three EU states, the report says. More than 40 per cent of the gangs are active in drug trafficking, by far the largest criminal business in the EU.

The analysis clearly shows a high degreed of professional organization of the gangs and how closely the underworld is interwoven with legal aspects of life.

They are organized like business enterprises, with different management levels. More than 80 per cent of the networks used legal business structures and more than 60 per cent of the gangs also used corruption as a means to further their business.

Money laundering was professionally organized and a parallel underworld financial system has been established, the report said, adding that gangs would exploit all possibilities to undermine European economies.