Trends in Organized Crime

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Paraguay has become the main cannabis producer in South America and one of the largest exporters in the world. Some investigations about the cultivation of marijuana in the country portray a cruel environment in which peasants are exploited in “almost feudal” conditions by intermediaries who buy their crops at unreasonably low prices. However, a group of peasants who use the Mbaracayú Forest Nature Reserve as their labour area have created a safe and profitable ecosystem for developing their business. Based on interviews with key informants and visits to the area, the article describes the constraints and incentives that lead those peasants to engage in criminal activities, the strategies they have used to establish protective barriers, and the moral justifications that emerge as a result of their success in doing business. Although there are violent practices and extortion, we claim that the decision-making process to get involved in illegal markets is a free action influenced by alternative moral understandings that provide reasons and justifications for breaking the law. The moral map of these cannabis growers goes far beyond the mere economic justification of generating material resources and is related to economic, institutional, and social premises linked to a generalized aspiration of dignity and a life worth living. The functioning of informal institutions learned through previous interactions with state and non-state actors who regulate and protect the market, the perceived social approval/legitimation of the activity by referent groups, and the awareness of the capacity and skills necessary to successfully conduct the business have a crucial importance in the moral reformulation.
Asymmetries chain of the illicit trade in veterinary medicines ASYMMETRY STEP IN SUPPLY CHAIN
The illicit market in veterinary medicines is an overlooked issue despite threatening the health of non-human and human animals. It is thought to be increasing within the major markets of the global North due to the growth of e-commerce and social media sites. This paper examines the online market in illicit veterinary medicines through an exploratory study of the public’s online experiences as pet owners in the UK. To this end, we collected data through literature-based research and an online survey. Drawing on Passas’ criminogenic asymmetries framework, the research found that the confluence of legal, political, cultural, economic and knowledge asymmetries likely facilitate the market in illicit veterinary medicines in the UK. Our research concludes that, while previous reports suggest the illicit market is dominated by medicines to treat pets, it increasingly consists of medicines for farmed animals. This brings its own set of challenges and risks, and a pressing need for further research on the market’s dynamics.
Profit, Survival, and Ideological Benefits of Alliances with TGs
Camorra Alliances
D-Company Alliances
Albanian Mafia Alliances
Alliances between organized criminal groups and terrorist groups are understudied relative to other crime-terror dynamics, and alliances between hybrid organized criminal groups and terrorist groups are virtually unstudied. This article compares organized criminal groups and hybrid organized criminal groups’ alliances with terrorist groups, employing the cases of the Camorra, D-Company, and the Albanian Mafia. It concludes that ‘pure’ organized criminal groups ally with terrorist groups solely for profit or survival, but that hybrid organized criminal groups, which mix profit and political motives, ally with terrorist groups for profit, survival, and ideological reasons. Finally, it offers thoughts on the future of the study of the crime-terror nexus.
This article presents a review of organised crime authorship for all articles published in Trends in Organized Crime and Global Crime between 2004 and 2019 (N = 528 articles and 627 individual authors). The results of this review identify a field dominated by White men based in six countries, all in the Global North. Little collaboration occurs; few studies are funded, and few researchers specialise in the area. Organised crime research, however, does have a degree of variety in national origin, and therefore linguistic diversity, while the number of female researchers is growing. The article concludes that authorship trends are influenced by the challenges of data collection, funding availability, and more entrenched structural factors, which prevent some from entering into, and staying active within, the field.
A crime script template, depicting multiple acts for which data are collected about the scenes, cast and conditions
The coding procedure for recording data extracted from information sources for populating into a crime script
Coding procedure applied to data in the crime script with regards to the five decision-making considerations associated with risks, rewards, efforts, excuses, and provocations
IPTs by state pipeline segment in Mexico in 2018
Crime script visual summary of TROP via IPT in Mexico
Crime script analysis is becoming an increasingly used approach for examining organized crime. Crime scripts can use data from multiple sources, including open sources of intelligence (OSINT). Limited guidance exists, however, on how to populate the content of a crime script with data, and validate these data. This results in crime scripts being generated intuitively, restricts them from being scrutinised for their quality, and limits the opportunity to combine or compare crime scripts. We introduce a practical process for populating the content of a crime script that involves simple coding procedures and uses document analysis to quality assure data that are extracted from open sources. We illustrate the process with the example of theft of oil from pipelines in Mexico committed by organized crime groups. The structured methodical process we introduce produces a crime script of high quality, helps to improve the systematic analysis of decision-making performed by members of organized crime groups, and can improve the identification of opportunities for crime control.
Number of packs collected in each census fraction of the City of Buenos Aires included in the sampling design, 2018
Model for cigarette pack classification (licit vs. illicit): synthesis of results. City of Buenos Aires, 2018
Number of packs classified as illicit collected in each city district (comuna). City of Buenos Aires, 2018
Prevalence of illicit cigarette trade (ITT) plotted against per capita average monthly household income in the City of Buenos Aires, 2018
While Illicit Tobacco Trade (ITT) is a serious threat to the effectiveness of tobacco control policies worldwide, to this day tobacco-industry independent estimations of the size of the market for illicit tobacco products in the region are still very scarce. There is evidence that the tobacco industry often manipulates ITT estimates to influence policy-making and hinder tobacco control measures. In this study, we sought to bridge this knowledge gap by generating data on the prevalence of cigarette illicit trade in the city of Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina. We used an empty tobacco pack survey approach with a simple random cluster sampling design. A total of 4,906 packs were collected. Determination of packs as licit/illicit was conducted by forensic analysis of tax stamps and econometric modelling. Cigarette packs manufactured in country dominated the sample (97%), of which 3.71% (CI 95%:3.18%-4.24%) could be categorized as illicit cigarettes carrying counterfeit stamps. Most illicit packs (96%) belonged to low price brands manufactured by national tobacco companies, which suggests that low-income households may be more affected by ITT products. It is essential to implement an effective track and trace system that incorporates mechanisms to hinder stamp forgery and control stamp authenticity. A combined effort to increase tobacco taxation and reduce ITT is necessary to reduce tobacco consumption.
Newspapers included in the study
In the early hours of October 23 rd , 2019, 39 people were found dead in a refrigerated lorry in Grays, Essex, UK. This case attracted media interest across the world; in the 48-h period after the story broke, reporting on this discovery extended to newspapers not just in the UK, but also across Europe. This study uses elements of Critical Stylistics (Jeffries 2010) to analyse and compare first response articles published by European dailies in relation to the event at Grays, to address the nature of this reporting. We found that linguistic choices tend to dramatise what happened, criminalise victims, and even presume the driver’s innocence, with the international criminal network he is presupposed to be part of remaining only speculated on. Though there are attempts to distribute some accountability to governments and policies, as well as structural systemic factors such as war and poverty, responsibility for these factors tends to be diffused, and hence unallocated, this helping ultimately justify draconic law enforcement and border security policies. By highlighting linguistic trends and underlying ideologies which we in turn question, we address the need to tend to the structural causes of such transnational people movement-related crime (i.e. trafficking and smuggling) and shift accountability to governments.
Type of crime by the scenarios
Judicial qualifications of co-offending by the scenarios (on case level)
The Dutch criminal law system is based on individual liability, yet part of the crime and violence Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMCG) members commit is collective in nature. This study examines the criminal law approach towards collective criminal behavior of OMCG members. The study analyzes police files and court judgements of criminal law cases that were filed against members of Dutch OMCGs. Additionally, interviews were carried out with public prosecutors involved in these criminal cases. The results show that it is often difficult to legally address OMCGs as criminal organizations or weigh the mere symbolic contribution of fellow club members to crime, such as the use of the OMCGs’ violent reputation. Furthermore, the results suggest that in order to circumvent legal difficulties in addressing group symbolism and OMCGs as collectives via criminal law, the Dutch Public Prosecution Office has recently opted for a stronger interplay between criminal and civil law, targeting both individual OMCG members and the structural aspects of OMCGs. Future research is needed to establish which (interplays between) legal instruments are most effective in responding to collective criminal behavior.
Vietnamese drug-related criminal activities represent a dynamic phenomenon on the Czech drug scene. Most notably, the Czech security forces have been registering a strong engagement of Vietnamese nationals in the illicit production and trade of cannabis and methamphetamine. The drugs are traded locally or, in growing amounts, exported abroad to other European countries and beyond. Vietnamese groupings are successful in the drug business due to their use of specific and effective modi operandi based on loose customer-supplier relations, their modern drug production technologies, and their ability to operate in criminal environments and the Asian immigrant communities in the host countries.
Causal mechanism of the mercenary coup in Haiti
Source: own elaboration
Haiti has become a scenario of convergence between the political and the criminal as a combination for territorial control and security configuration. Using process tracing, we wanted to find what were the motivations for hiring a group of mercenaries with the aim of getting rid of an increasingly authoritarian president. Thus we identify critical points in Haitian history regarding the symbiosis between crime and political institutions, which permit us to construct causal mechanisms to identify that, among other things, Haiti is a phantom state, as we call it in our research, because it has a nominal and supplanted political structure in which competition between different groups who seek to assume political authority has led to a limited, fragmented, delegated and authoritarian presence of the state among the population and the territory. Consequently, we find that the use of force has not belonged exclusively to the state, it has been divided into different oligopolies of violence and the Haitian state is only one more actor in the criminal complex of the country, where state institutions are the mechanisms with criminal organizations to generate criminal dynamics of territorial control and profit. Based on the above, we consider that, as the government of Jovenel Moïse had allied with the strongest gangs and weakened political groups and criminal rivals, the mercenaries were the instrument to break the authoritarian government of Moïse. In effect, the magnicide was the product of a plan to depose the president, undertaken by political leaders in complicity with the country’s judiciary to curb the concentration of executive power.
The following review focuses upon the book Robbery in the illegal drugs trade: Violence and Vengeance by Robert McLean and James Densley. A full version of the text is available to view via this link:
This is an introduction to the special issue of Trends in Organized Crime on ‘criminal markets and networks in cyberspace’. All the contributions to this special issue, even if from different standpoints and focuses, help us understand how cyberspace is (re)shaping offenses and offenders.
A schematic representation of two overarching crime scripts of phishing for information related to bank accounts. The steps on the left (marked by .1) are part of variant one. The steps on the right (marked by .2) are part of variant two. The steps in the middle of the figure are part of both crime scripts
This article examines the modus operandi of phishing for information related to bank accounts in The Netherlands, by composing crime scripts based on 93 Dutch court transcripts. The analysis resulted in two overarching crime scripts of phishing. In the first crime script, criminals aim to steal victims' ATM cards and pin numbers. In crime script two, criminals aim to steal victims' personal data and verification codes—codes needed to confirm transfers—in order to deposit money from the bank accounts of victims to third parties' bank accounts, or to persuade victims to do this themselves. In conclusion, the modus operandi of phishing has not changed much in recent years, meaning that interventions targeting bottlenecks in the crime script can still very well be implemented. Furthermore, the results indicate that the modus operandi seems to become less technical, contradicting the idea that digitalization leads to more technically sophisticated phishing methods.
Crime scripts of bank card data fraud for online purchase at the “activity” stage
A shipping label in case C03
Crime scripts of standard phone scams at the “activity” stage
This study aims to better understand transnational computer fraud in Vietnam utilizing crime script analysis. Data from criminal profiles and in-depth interviews with investigators were combined, and the results showed that Vietnam could become an operational base for both domestic and foreign criminals to implement transnational computer fraud. This type of fraud, which includes crimes with only minor technological elements and those involving almost entirely technological factors, represents the intersection of fraud, transnationality, and technology. Technology can support criminals in defrauding victims transnationally without the need for direct interaction. Moreover, the study clarified the different roles of Vietnamese and foreign offenders in the two types of transnational computer fraud: bank card data fraud and phone scams. As the first study of this nature implemented in Vietnam, this research contributes to the knowledge of computer fraud, especially in Asia, providing a foundation for future investigations related to this kind of cybercrime.
Size of DDoS attacks over years. (Source: Morales 2018)
The StressSquadZ network of users and plans bought with description
Subscribing users and date of payments (n.b. taken down in February 2016). N.B. This graph shows how many people buy one of the products over time and how many of them repeat their purchase
3D graph showing subscribing users, date of payments and price paid
The internet mafia trope has shaped our knowledge about organised crime groups online, yet the evidence is largely speculative and the logic often flawed. This paper adds to current knowledge by exploring the development, operation and demise of an online criminal group as a case study. In this article we analyse a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) stresser (also known as booter) which sells its services online to enable offenders to launch attacks. Using Social Network Analysis to explore the service operations and payment systems, our findings show a central business model that is similar to legitimate e-commerce websites in the way product, price and costumers are differentiated. It also illustrates that its organisation is distributed and not hierarchical and the overall income yield is comparatively low, requiring further organisational activity to make it pay. Finally, we show that the users of the service (mainly offenders) are not only a mixed group of actors, but that it is also possible to discriminate between different levels of seriousness of offending according to the particular service they purchased.
This study is a spinoff of the cross-disciplinary project “FloraGuard: Tackling the Illegal Trade in Endangered Plants”, and focuses on the analysis of online forums dedicated to the discussion and the trades of plant species, often highly endangered in nature, that are sought after for their psychotropic properties. The study sheds light on the interesting but overlooked area of the intersection of environmental crimes, illegal online trades, and drug use. Some species of conservation concern have known psychoactive/analgesic properties; as these properties are now openly and broadly discussed in specialised online communities, attention is required both as regards the potential for health-related harms suffered by reckless users, and for environmental-related harms for the species in question.
Specialization in criminal activities generally refers to offenders that repeat the same or similar offenses over time. While some research has found support for offender specialization, most empirical studies suggest that most offenders engage in various forms of offenses during their criminal trajectory and fail to specialize in a specific offense. The aim of this paper is to build on past research to understand the specialization of offenders involved in the online illicit trade of tobacco. To do so, we characterize the offenders involved in the online illicit trade of tobacco, the products (other than tobacco) that these vendors traffic as well as the differences between the offenders involved in the online illicit trade of tobacco and those involved only in other types of illicit trades. We find that a small share of vendors on cryptomarkets are involved in the illicit trade of tobacco. These vendors trade cigarettes, cigars and rolling tobacco generating monthly revenues of $8952 from the sales of these items. These revenues pale in comparison to these vendors’ revenues from non-tobacco product listings ($22,177) and the monthly revenues generated by other cryptomarkets vendors (over $37 million US dollars). This paper confirms the diversification of offenders involved in online illicit markets and extends past research by quantifying the degree to which these offenders are diversified.
As technology has changed people’s lives, criminal phenomena are also constantly evolving. Today’s digital society is changing the activities of organized crime and organized crime groups. In the digital society, very different organized crime groups coexist with different organizational models: from online cybercrime to traditional organized crime groups to hybrid criminal groups in which humans and machines ‘collaborate’ in new and close ways in networks of human and non-human actors. These criminal groups commit very different organized crime activities, from the most technological to the most traditional, and move from online to offline. They use technology and interact with computers for a variety of purposes, and the distinction between the physical and virtual dimensions of organized crime is increasingly blurred. These radical developments do not seem to be accompanied by a new criminological theoretical interpretive framework, with a definition of organized crime that is able to account for the changes that digital society brings to organized crime and generate modern research hypotheses. This article proposes the concept of digital organized crime and the spectrum theory of digital organized crimes, to be embedded within a current, revised sociological theory of the organization of crime and deviance in digital society (a new theory of digital criminal organizing) and argues that the study of digital organized crime will increasingly require a digital sociology of organized crime. Criminologists are called upon to work in this direction.
The fight against terrorism has been a significant challenge for civilised countries. Although the “war on terrorism” has been in full effect since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, terrorism continues to pose a threat to the global society. To investigate how current CFT measures could be improved, a qualitative study consisting of a preliminary study with 15 presumed providers of illegal financial services and 15 compliance experts was conducted. Based on the empirical findings, five novel counter the financing of terrorism measures in the form of a more extensive exchange of information between private actors and the authorities, administrative and legal cooperation, scrutiny of professional secrecy, undercover investigations and electronic searches are suggested. The intention is to give law enforcement agencies, intelligence agencies, prosecutors, legislators and compliance experts first-hand insights into challenges that arise from the current CFT measures and how these challenges can be mitigated.
This article critically interrogates the political effect of portraying drug-related organized crime in the Americas as a resilient market phenomenon. It works out how both drug demand and supply are constructed as immune to repressive policy interventions of the War on Drugs. Drug demand is seen as a pathologic consumer habit which is inelastic to price changes brought about by interdiction. Drug supply, in turn, cannot be permanently suppressed as the ‘balloon effect’ ensures that trafficking routes merely shift from one country to another. In this discursive framework, policy making is consigned to perpetual adaption rather than purposive social transformation. In consequence, the political horizon of international policy making is limited to living with danger. This discursive move is facilitated by the resilience approach which consigns human communities to coping with threats and upheavals they can no longer have any hope of overcoming.
Geographical distribution of disappearances related to organized crime (upper left), forced disappearances (upper right), disappearances in highways (bottom left) and disappearances related to the US border (bottom right)
More than 77,000 people have disappeared in Mexico since the beginning of the war on drugs, but very little is known about them. After analyzing the descriptions of a non-randomized sample of disappearance registries from governmental data, we find that those events associated with organized crime are better understood by analyzing four factors: migration to the U.S. border and traveling on highways, gender differences and individual vs. multiple-victim disappearances, the forced recruitment of skilled and unskilled workers, and cooperation with the authorities. These results should be used as a starting point for pushing the government to release better data and to improve search mechanisms.
With human smuggling, trafficking and associated areas such as modern slavery consistently in the news over the past decade governments have established and reinforced a narrative whereby evil organised criminals are responsible for driving the numbers of people migrating. This despite much academic evidence to contrary. Snakeheads have long been linked to facilitating human smuggling from China and tick all the stereotypical boxes for an organised crime ‘folk devil’. An ominous name; shadowy methods; allegedly highly exploitative and a reassuringly ‘foreign’ threat, Snakeheads fit neatly into the narrative above. Using a range of sources including qualitative interviews, survey data, Government statistics and Freedom of Information Requests this this paper suggests the reality is very different. That Snakeheads do not fit snuggly with media and government perceptions of who smuggles people from China or how they interact with organised crime. It suggests that the smuggling from China is not overseen by nefarious organised crime groups but criminal entrepreneurs.
This article uses quantitative and qualitative data to document the alarming expansion of the three largest organized criminal groups (OCGs) in Brazil, the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC), Comando Vermelho, and Família do Norte. It employs a novel dataset comprised of Google search queries about each criminal organization, and uses search interest as a proxy for OCG activity in a given state and year. The results show that the PCC has grown the most, well established in its headquarters of São Paulo state and now present in all other states in Brazil. Interviews reveal that over the course of almost three decades, the PCC has evolved from a prison gang to a transnational proto-mafia: it has linked and gained control over the entire drug supply chain that crosses Brazil. In addition, the PCC is able to directly challenge the state, and it controls prisons and community enclaves where it imposes its own model of criminal governance. These findings call attention to a concerning scenario for the Brazilian state and society as organized crime grows in size and power.
This paper provides an introduction to the articles that comprise this special issue on violence and organised crime. Bringing together research into money laundering, local elections, state interventions and interrelated processes, firearms and home robberies, enforcers and contract killings, this issue explores the relationship between violence and various facets of organised crime. Taken together, the articles offer empirical and theoretical insights into the processes, logics and economies of violence. In doing so, this issue both advances our current understanding of the role violence plays in organised crime and raises additional questions about the context within which violence is employed, thereby highlighting further avenues for future research.
A Correction to this paper has been published:
Number of Homicides in Mexico, 2000–2017. Source: National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI in Spanish)
Research on ‘the War on Drugs’ in Mexico finds that military interventions increase lethal violence in the country. However, these studies fail to account for other processes that may be driving the behavior of lethal violence in the Mexican municipalities. We find confirmation that these rival processes influence the relative impact that military interventions have on lethal violence. In particular, we find that seasonality in violence, competition for scarce resources and PAN’s governance in the municipalities are associated with higher levels of lethal violence, as measured by the young male homicide rate. We argue that the literature may have overestimated the effect that military interventions have in lethal violence in municipalities and that other drivers of violence should be taken into account to accurately measure the impact that military interventions have on lethal violence.
Crime script ‘contract killings’
This article contributes to our existing knowledge through a crime script analysis of contract killings, based on six extensively analyzed police investigations in the Netherlands. Starting from a universal crime script, a more specific crime script for contract killings is elaborated. To provide a clear picture of the whole process, the description of the scenes focuses on requirements, facilitators, modi operandi, and preparatory actions. A comparison of liquidation investigations is made through a crime script analysis, which results in three types of requirements: vehicles, automatic weapons, and technical equipment, including PGP-telephones and beacons. In addition, spy shops turn out to play a major role in liquidations as facilitators. Due to a lack of licensing and regulations, the owners of spy shops can decide to a large extent on their own procedures. This leads to the possibility of buying and selling equipment anonymously and with large amounts of cash, which facilitates the preparation of liquidations and crime in general. Hitmen are the second type of important facilitators. The analysis reveals that all liquidation investigations contain indications of a principal to whom account has to be held. Two investigations clearly demonstrate financial rewards for contract killings.
Cumulative shocks effect (model simulations). Source: Author’s elaboration
Money laundering is not a victimless crime. Under certain circumstances, it may lead to significant criminal violence. We analyze the specific case of money laundering in local economies. Criminal organizations invest dirty money in legal local businesses, which may lead to short-term improvements in the economy that benefit the population. Authorities with access to local information may (purposely) fail to report suspicious economic activities to specialized agencies in charge of money laundering because it is politically and economically convenient. The economic windfall generated from illicit money can eventually attract additional criminal organizations to the community, or may fragment the dominant criminal organization, endogenously increasing violence. The violence generated in no way compensates the previous economic growth. We develop theoretical insights on the conditions under which this mechanism exists, and empirically test its incidence and the magnitude of its effects, using Mexican municipalities as units of analysis.
Enforcement, ranging from threats to intimidation to assault to homicide, has long been an established practice within criminal networks. However, comparatively little academic research exists about the nature and role of enforcers within and beyond the context of contract killings. Drawing on qualitative interviews with criminal enforcers from two contrasting sites within the UK—the West Scotland and the West Midlands—the current study examines the articulated, identifiable pathways into criminal enforcement. Also it examines the nuanced nature of enforcement and the roles those men commonly adopt within the context of organised crime, as well as the relationship between these men’s activity, the wider context of organised crime, and presence of social and cultural capital within it. This article provides insights into how one becomes an enforcer; how contact is made between all parties involved; the degree of planning involved; and costing arrangements, with important implications for research and practice.
Home robberies where victims were present and observed how the crime was perpetrated, 2010–2017
According to data from Mexico’s National Crime Victimization and Public Security Surveys (ENVIPE), from 2010 through 2017, home robberies involving an interaction between a victim and an aggressor occurred every two minutes and resulted in more than 257,000 injuries. The objective of this study is to explore whether victims of home robberies in Mexico are more likely to report an injury if perpetrators are armed with a gun. This analysis compiles data from ENVIPE and runs a binary logistic regression. In contrast to literature on robberies in the United States and studies on street robberies in Mexico, results show that when perpetrators are armed with guns, victims of home robberies in Mexico are more likely to report an injury, even though these injuries are rarely caused by a gunshot. These discrepancies may be explained by different factors. Unlike in the United States, most gun-related crimes in Mexico are perpetrated by organized criminal groups that obtain firearms through illegal channels. Members of these groups are prepared to engage on physical violence against their victims. Additionally, unlike street robberies, the enclosed setting of home robberies might facilitate the use of physical violence as a strategy to coerce victims and successfully obtain profits without generating public attention. Overall, perpetrators use guns as a tool to exert control and avoid resistance. These findings suggest that policies to address organized crime and halt easy access to guns should be prioritized on Mexico’s national security agenda.
Homicides per year in Mexico. Source: National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI)
Predictive margins of the deviations in violence (prior to and after election day)
Although several previous studies have advanced the knowledge of how violence perpetrated by DTOs affects electoral outcomes, the study of how levels of criminal violence vary during local electoral contests remains scant. Stated differently, we know little on whether the local electoral cycle has an effect on the level of criminal violence. Employing the CIDE-PPD Database, we find that local elections do have an effect on levels of DTOs violence and that the greatest incentives to upscale violence occur shortly before election day. These fluctuations suggest that DTOs are actively seeking to influence local governance in their favor especially during the campaigns. Our analysis also suggests that candidates in local Mexican elections face a more precarious and dangerous situation compared to recently-elected authorities.
This study builds on the constructivist tradition of organized crime research that strives to identify which phenomena and under which circumstances are recognized as organized crime across different cultural contexts. In this context, Western countries such as the USA, UK, Italy and Germany are typically the primary subjects of scholarly interest. Our aim is to enrich this area of research with a post-socialist context by examining the construction of organized crime in Czech policy. This study analyzes representations of organized crime in the Concept for Combating Organized Crime, a key strategic document issued by the Czech government. We found that organized crime does not take on one single form but rather comprises various representations which draw on four main types of discourse – legal, police-intelligence, criminological, and ethnocultural – thereby allowing organized crime to be construed as a ubiquitous phenomenon. A characteristic feature of how organized crime is constructed in Czech policy is the recognition of Czech nationals as powerful organized criminals among the ranks of Orientalized Russian-speaking, Balkan, East Asian and Arab criminal figures. This status is further reinforced through the association of organized crime and economic crime, a prominent symbol of crime in Czechia.
Framework of the social embeddedness of organized crime
In this article, we aim to further our understanding of the social embeddedness of organized crime by exploring the (possible) ways the social environment adds to the shielding of organized crime or criminal activities by organized crime groups. We argue that the metaphor of 'walls of silence' provides a fruitful way to examine the shielding of organized crime. Based on a theoretical and empirical exploration of 30 cases from the fifth data sweep of Dutch Organized Crime Monitor, we illustrate how organized crime offenders in the Netherlands depend on the silence and secrecy of co-offenders, victims, bystanders, and others who are aware of their (criminal) activities. Furthermore, we present a framework of the shielding of organized crime activities to provide insight into how offenders not only make use of the social environment to shield their activities, but also how the social environment can (pur-posely) act as walls of silence and secrecy.
Transnational informal network, Toledo-Odebrecht connection
Visualizing the functional roles of the network
The paper targets the nexus between corruption and money laundering. Scholars and practitioners recently observed how offshore financial centers and financial infra-structures have become central in facilitating corruption and other criminal activities. Offshore vehicles often serve to conceal the connections between business people and politically exposed persons. Secrecy jurisdictions and service providers have emerged as key actors in these illicit schemes. The paper explores the following questions: How do money laundering activities and offshore financial infrastruc-tures sustain corruption? Who are the key actors involved, how do they interact, and their division of labor? How do actors and clusters govern the social-financial web of relations? It applies a combination of social network analysis (SNA) and network ethnography to the corrupt connection between the former Peruvian President Ale-jandro Toledo and the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht Group. The research analyzes publicly available data from the Lava Jato and Ecoteva investigations in Brazil and Peru. It deconstructs the illicit scheme's mechanisms step-by-step, uncovers the functions of different actors and clusters, and illuminates the social norms and informal governance practices that regulate the exchange. The research highlights how the financial infrastructures of the private and public spheres are integrated and analyzes the informal governance system designed to control the transna-tional corruption network. The study makes it possible to understand how the nexus between corruption and money laundering works. It also supports the emerging understanding of corruption as a collective, transnational and financially advanced phenomenon.
Sequence of possible outcomes related to the implementation of High Value Target Strikes
Homicides in Tijuana as reported by INEGI (N = 48 months, 2012–2015)
Homicides in Tijuana as reported by INEGI (N = 72 months, 2012–2017)
High-value target strikes–the practice of apprehending or lethally targeting high-ranking members of transnational criminal organizations–has become a frequently used tactic of U.S. and Mexican authorities to combat drug trafficking organizations. The study focuses on the unintentional outcomes of this policy by using an interrupted times-series AutoRegressive Integrative Moving Average (ARIMA) study design combined with a paired sample t-test, to analyze the effect that the arrest of Arellano Felix Organization leader, Luis Fernando Sánchez Arellano, and subsequent arrest of Sinaloa Cartel leader, Joaquín Guzmán (El Chapo), had on levels of homicide in Tijuana, Mexico from 2012 to 2017. Findings revealed that the capture of both cartel leaders led to a statistically significant increase in the number of homicides in Tijuana, as the apprehension of these leaders allowed for the arrival of rival organizations in the Tijuana trafficking corridor. The appearance of competing groups in Tijuana prompted turf battles between organizations to develop.
This article presents the results of an exploratory study aimed to analyze the contexts in which the use of Non-Traditional ports of cocaine departure and counter-intuitive routes is prioritized, based on the experience of Argentina, Chile, and Uru-guay. Moreover, we show that criminal organizations prioritize the Ports of Buenos Aires, San Antonio and Montevideo, and the counter-intuitive routes that lead to them, because they are spaces that generate incentives linked to the porosity of borders , the lack of control at the ports, and the possibility of exploiting the country's lack of reputation for drug exportation to re-export cocaine undetected. This study constitutes a precedent for future research on the role of South American Southern Cone ports in cocaine trafficking. We can identify at least four emerging lines of research: 1. Cocaine trafficking from landlocked countries; 2. The role of the waterway Paraná-Paraguay; 3. The link between Non-Traditional ports of cocaine departure and new markets; and 4. Other Non-Traditional Ports of cocaine departure, which are not containerized. This work was produced within the framework of the project UBACyT 20020190200243BA named «El surgimiento de nuevas estructuras criminales en Sudamérica: La dinámica del crimen organizado en Argentina y Brasil (2015-2019)».
In March 2020, the UK was placed in lockdown following the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Just as legitimate workplaces made changes to enable their employees to work from home, the illicit drugs trade also made alternative arrangements, adapting its supply models to ensure continuity of operations. Based upon qualitative interviews with 46 practitioners, this paper assesses how front-line professionals have experienced and perceived the impact of Covid-19 on child criminal exploitation and County Lines drug supply in the UK. Throughout the paper, we highlight perceived adaptations to the County Lines supply model, the impact of lockdown restrictions on detection and law enforcement activities aimed at County Lines, and on efforts to safeguard children and young people from criminal exploitation. Our participants generally believed that the pandemic had induced shifts to County Lines that reflected an ongoing evolution of the drug supply model and changes in understanding or attention because of Covid-19 restrictions, rather than a complete reconstitution of the model itself. Practitioners perceived that Covid-19 has had, and continues to have, a significant impact on some young people’s vulnerability to exploitation, on the way in which police and frontline practitioners respond to County Lines and child criminal exploitation, and on the way illegal drugs are being moved and sold.
This article provides an introduction to the special issue of Trends in Organized Crime on ‘Organised Crime and Animals’. The special issue contributes to the criminological literature on organised crime, new illicit markets and green criminology. The articles in this special issue offer a wide range of empirical evidence, criminological analysis and theoretical explorations of the various connections between organised crime and animals, including the illegal wildlife trade, gambling on animals, puppy trafficking, the killing of wolves and illegal, unreported fisheries and the regulatory and enforcement responses to these phenomena.
The use of a broad conceptualization of human smugglers fosters their stereotypical representation. Moreover, the lack of attention to the heterogeneity of smugglers, to their purposes, methods, and organisational choices, leads to the design of unfair and ineffective migration policies. Relying on previous empirical studies on human smuggling and other officially documented instances of the smuggling of migrants, this study investigates the heterogeneity of migrant smugglers and their activities with respect to six dimensions: target/victim, purpose, geopolitical scope, intensity, operational scale, organisation. The results confirm that it is misleading to provide one single definition of a human smuggler; on the contrary, different characterizations exist. In marked contrast to the public conception of human smugglers, they are often motivated by empathy, are active for short periods, and coordinate themselves through loose local networks. Nonetheless, the evidence indicates that there are also profit-oriented groups stably conducting large-scale operations that may end in the victimization of the migrants. The adoption of a vocabulary able to account for the diverse characteristics of human smugglers is recommended in the academic, political and policy debate.
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The convergence between wildlife trafficking and other serious crimes has received increasing attention within criminological studies. The present study examines how and why Mexican organized crime groups, in particular drug cartels, have shifted their operations from drug trafficking into specific parts of the illegal trade in totoaba maw. By drawing upon literature research, semi-structured interviews and official documents of the Mexican state, empirical data indicate that Mexican organized crime groups may infiltrate into the poaching and smuggling of totoaba maw as a result of a diversification process, influenced by the social context in which these groups operate. The different interactions between actors involved along the supply chain revealed that organized crime groups adapt to new illicit markets by means of corruption and violence; by establishing alliances with local fishermen and Asian criminal networks along the trafficking chain; and by using their existing routes and concealment methods. Finally, in the light of this empirical evidence that infers the complexity of crime convergence, we suggest the introduction of a National Environmental Task Force in Mexico.
Dog-fighting was historically a working-class pursuit within predominantly white, working-class subcultures, representing a distinct type of organised animal exploitation. However, contemporary dog-fighting has moved way from its organised pit-based origins to encompass varied forms of organised activity including street dog-fighting in the form of chain fighting or chain rolling, the use of dogs as status or weapon dogs. This paper examines dog-fighting from a green criminological perspective as a distinct form of organised and subcultural crime. Analysis of UK legislation identifies that the specific offence of ‘dog-fighting’ does not exist. Instead, dog-fighting is contained within the ‘animal fighting’ offence, prohibited by provisions of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. However, beyond the actual fight activities (pitting dogs against each other or attacking humans), a range of other offences are associated with dog-fighting including: illegal gambling; attending dog-fighting events; animal welfare harms; and the breeding and selling of dogs for fighting. This paper’s analysis examines contemporary legal perspectives on such activities; also discussing how illegal fieldsports (e.g. dog-fighting and cock-fighting) are dominated by organised crime elements of gambling and distinctly masculine subcultures through which a hierarchy of offending is established and developed. Commensurate with previous research that identifies different offender behaviours and offending within animal crime, this paper concludes that variation exists in the nature of dog-fighting to the extent that a single approach to offenders and offending behaviour is unlikely to be successful.
Organised crime groups’ involvement in illicit markets is a common focus of law enforcement and governments. Drug, weapon, human and wildlife trafficking (and others) are all illegal activities with link to organised crime. This paper explores the overlooked illicit market of puppies. We detail the state of knowledge about the organisation of the UK puppy trade, which includes irresponsible and illegal breeding of puppies throughout Europe and their often-illegal movement into the UK. In 2017, we conducted an analysis of hundreds of online advertisements in Scotland, 12 expert interviews, a stakeholder survey of 53 participants, and 40 focus groups across Great Britain. Our data suggest an organised illicit market running in parallel to the legal trade. We speculate as to whether at some point along the supply chain organised crime groups are responsible for the suffering and death of the puppies and the economic and emotional damage to ‘consumers’. Online monitoring and physical scrutiny at the ports must be improved to reduce non-human animal abuse. People buying puppies must also be made aware that their purchase could be profiting organised crime.
Organization of dogfighting network in the Netherlands
In recent years there is increasing public attention for dog fighting in Europe. This article focuses on this phenomenon in the Netherlands: its organisation, various actors, modus operandi and possible involvement of organized crime. This qualitative research is based on semi-structured interviews, analysis of police files, observations and online methods. As the result of criminalisation, dogfighting in the Netherlands went underground, creating an illegal market and a sub-culture of dogmen and dogwomen involved. Reputation, status and trust are among the most prominent features of this sub-culture, which is manifested in their analysed communications.
Organized crime, diversification and outsourcing
The Golden Triangle
The illegal wildlife trade has increasingly been linked to organized crime in recent years. In particular, Chinese crime groups seem to be major players in more organized forms of this trade. This article examines the involvement of Chinese organized crime groups in the trade of wildlife in the borderlands of the Golden Triangle. We will discuss the representation of Chinese crime groups in the illegal wildlife trade by looking at: a) the diversification of these crime groups into wildlife crimes and b) the outsourcing of activities to local opportunistic crime groups in neighboring Laos and Myanmar. We conclude that the different representations of Chinese crime groups overseas involved in the illegal wildlife trade are important in order to understand the roles of diversification and outsourcing.
While scholars of state crime and organized crime have frequently explored the intersection of these fields with green criminology, for the most part they have not brought the two together as organized state criminality as a means to explore environmental destruction. Of the few explorations of organized state green crime that do exist, most do not embrace a non-speciesist perspective. In this article, we develop a non-speciesist theory of organized state green crime to explain the Nor-wegian state-licensed killing of wolves, a phenomenon that we analyze through the use of the concept ideological inertia. Our main argument is that the underlying cultural, political and economic interests that were prioritized up to the 1970s in Norway continue to have a counteracting effect on the protection of large carnivores, which the country committed to as a signatory to the Bern Convention.
The article aims to find the answer on the main question of how can the criminalisation of IUU fishing, especially when committed by OCGs, under suppression conventions tackle the deficits of regulations and enforcement at the international and national levels? These deficits have origin in the limited prescription by international fisheries instruments and a large autonomy and discretion of states leading to substantive divergent policies, legal framework and practices at the national level. Further, the actual international fisheries instruments do not provide for regulatory and enforcement solutions in relation to the involvement of OCGs in IUU fishing. We argue that suppression conventions at global and regional levels could serve as solutions to supplement the deficits. In explaining the argument, first we examine the phenomenon of IUU fishing and its TOC dimensions, and the significant harms caused by it. Second, we examine the regulations and enforcement provisions of international and national fisheries instruments to establish the deficits. Third, we elaborate why suppression conventions are suitable solutions. Fourth, we analyse how suppression conventions can be regulated at global and regional levels in a way that they tackle the deficits. The results of this study can be used as a reference on how a transnational crime can be criminalised under suppression conventions both in terms of its reasonings and options and thus can contribute to the study of transnational criminal law. This study is important for transnational criminal law scholars, policy makers and practitioners in the field of enforcement.
The Netherlands are a small country with an urban underworld history before a serious problem of organized crime has developed since the 1980. The interest of the mob in Horse Race Betting flourished before that time. After a long period of Prohibition since 1911 horse racing (especially trotting) and betting on the results has become a very popular pastime since it was permitted in 1948. Especially during the nineteen seventies and eighties horse races drew a large audience and to a lesser degree they still do. However, bookmaking has always been forbidden since 1911 and that by itself presented in invitation to (organized) crime. Other well-known criminal byproducts of horse racing such as drugging horses, laundering money and matchfixing have been observed but as we measured only to a very moderate degree. The social variety of aficionados for the races is amazing. While doing historical and ethnographic field research at the race tracks we registered a mixture of people of humble origins as well as big entrepreneurs. There were members of the royal family but also well-known criminals. It is amazing to find out to what degree the latter have been accepted by the entire horse racing community.
Top-cited authors
David Shirk
  • University of San Diego
Daan P. van Uhm
  • Utrecht University
Louise Shelley
  • George Mason University
Susan Roberts
  • University of Kentucky
Klaus von Lampe
  • Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Recht Berlin