Drug related crime has increased by ten per cent this year in the Austrian capital of Vienna largely due to an influx of Nigerian migrants.
Police in Vienna have announced they will be taking measures as of 1st June to stem the ten per cent rise in drug related crimes in the city. An amendment of the Narcotics Substances Act will be aimed at cracking down on street level drug dealers. Police say that the amendment is required because from January to April of this year the amount of dealers advertising has gone up dramatically, in one area in of Vienna particular, Der Standard reports.
The most problematic area and focus of the police crackdown is a border between two districts in Vienna, Ottakring and Josefstadt. Josefstadt is the smallest district in the city and is known for its large student population who attend the nearby University of Vienna.
Ottaking is well known for its large migrant population and was the scene of the brutal murder of a woman on the streets of the district. The victim was battered to death by an illegal migrant in the early hours of the morning as she was going to work.
The area between the two districts, known as the “gurtel,” is home to music clubs, prostitution and drug dealing — not unlike the infamous “kotti” area in Berlin. Police spokesman Paul Eidenberger stated that the area has seen a “significant increase in complaints against life and limb, robbery, civil disorder, assaults and drug offences” since the autumn. He claimed that there were now 200 cases of drug crime in the area per month, twice as many as the same period last year.
According to Mr. Eidenberger, 80 per cent of the offences committed under the Narcotic Substances Act are committed almost exclusively by Nigerian migrants. Last weekend the police deployed what they call their “action arm” of officers on the ground and have so far seen results. Mr. Eidenberger stated that since Saturday there had been a “visible reduction of dealer groups” in the area between the underground stations of Thaliastraße and Josefstädterstraße.
Cannabis appears to be the main drug dealt in the area and police say that on 13th May they were able to seize 227 kilograms; this has curbed dealers’ operations on the street as the drug can be sold for around ten euros a gram.
The new amendment will also allow courts to sentence street dealers to up to two years in prison, which Mr. Eidenberger said would prevent sales opportunities for the dealers and free publics space from the drug trade.
The move is in line with the Austrian government’s goal to crack down more harshly on migrant crime. It has said it will look into detaining and deporting migrants for minor crimes after the Ottakring street murder.