Of Bombs and Criminals: Malta’s Underlying Organized Crime Problem

‘Jewel of the Mediterranean’ is a phrase we hear only too much to describe or country, as it stands as a collection of islands in the middle of the Mediterranean. However, this positive and optimistic atmosphere created around our country does not mean that Malta is not without its pressing problems, of which it certainly has many.

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While Malta’s overall crime rate remains un-comparable to that of the rest of Europe, an element which has been displaying itself very evidently in this regard throughout the past few years is the element related to the presence of organized crime in Malta, often manifesting itself in bombings. Since 2003 alone, there have been over 28 incidents involving bomb explosions in Malta, with 26 of them still being considered to be unsolved and 19 of the haven taken place since 2010. If not all of the time, most of these bombings will kill their intended victims, be it as a result of the bomb being placed underneath or inside their car or it being placed outside their private residence or place of work. In instances when this is not the case, bombings will leave people injured, with the most recent example being an explosion which took place at a farmhouse in Hal-Gharghur, with the victim, who is known to the police, being expected to survive from his injuries. More often than not, the targets of these explosions would already have made criminal connections and would already be very well under the police radar, thus exposing even more the wave of organized crime that has been plaguing Malta for far too long.

An even darker shadow was cast onto this phenomenon with the assassination of blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia on 16th October 2017, making her the third victim of a bombing in 2017 alone and the fifth person to die a result of a bombing since 2010.  In all, 6 car bombings have taken place with a few months of each other between January 2016 and October 2017, with some of the cases even being linked and almost all of the explosive devices being remotely activated by means of a mobile phone. The motivations around most of these cases revolve around links to oil and diesel smuggling, usury and most commonly drug trafficking, with the organised criminal network present in Malta being made even more apparent with every case of this nature which takes place. It goes without saying, that Malta’s close proximity to Italy, and more specifically Sicily, makes connections between Maltese crime families and the Mafia very easy to forge. With that said, there have been several Mafia-style incidents committed in Malta in the past few years, with foreign involvement featuring notably in some cases. As already stated, it’s very clear that the Maltese criminal underworld and the Mafia are very well embedded with one another, be it in criminal activities, corrupt practices or shady businesses.

As invisible and hyperbolic as it may seem Malta’s crime problem evidently emanates from a structured environment with premeditated tactics being its main hallmark, as opposed to the spontaneous behaviour which characterises most criminal acts committed outside Malta. While combating crime certainly takes its time and a good deal of effort, organized crime in Malta might very well be as difficult to control as it so mysteriously set up.

Written by: Jacob Callus

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