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Using script analysis to understand the financial crimes involved in wildlife trafficking

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Abstract

Wildlife trafficking has evolved in the last few decades from a critical conservation concern to a global security threat. What was once thought to be small-scale opportunistic behavior has now become a large organized trade partly run by criminal networks. Most research on wildlife trafficking has focused on the drivers of the trade and its modus operandi for catching, moving, and selling wildlife. There has been little research on the financial aspects of wildlife trafficking, despite how useful financial laws could be to prosecute traffickers in countries where environmental laws are weak. This research uses the crime script model and Gottschalk’s (Journal of Financial Crime, 17(4), 441–458, 2010) financial crime classification to study the financial crimes committed by wildlife traffickers during the trafficking process. Results show that financial crimes, including corruption, fraud, and money laundering, are part of every stage of the trafficking process for every actor involved. This research locates “pinch points” where it is most effective to intervene to dismantle the financial networks involved in wildlife trafficking and suggests interventions based on situational crime prevention principles.
Using script analysis to understand the financial crimes
involved in wildlife trafficking
Julie Viollaz
1
&Jessica Graham
2
&Leonid Lantsman
3
Published online: 26 January 2018
#Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018
Abstract Wildlife trafficking has evolved in the last few decades from a critical
conservation concern to a global security threat. What was once thought to be small-
scale opportunistic behavior has now become a large organized trade partly run by
criminal networks. Most research on wildlife trafficking has focused on the drivers of
the trade and its modus operandi for catching, moving, and selling wildlife. There has
been little research on the financial aspects of wildlife trafficking, despite how useful
financial laws could be to prosecute traffickers in countries where environmental laws
are weak. This research uses the crime script model and Gottschalks(Journal of
Financial Crime, 17(4), 441458, 2010) financial crime classification to study the
financial crimes committed by wildlife traffickers during the trafficking process.
Results show that financial crimes, including corruption, fraud, and money laundering,
are part of every stage of the trafficking process for every actor involved. This research
locates Bpinch points^where it is most effective to intervene to dismantle the financial
networks involved in wildlife trafficking and suggests interventions based on situation-
al crime prevention principles.
Crime Law Soc Change (2018) 69:595614
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10611-017-9725-z
*Julie Viollaz
jsviollaz@gmail.com
Jessica Graham
jmgrahamenator@gmail.com
Leonid Lantsman
LantsmanL@state.gov
1
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Michigan State University, 480 Wilson Rd #13, East Lansing,
MI 48824, USA
2
Environmental Security Program, INTERPOL, Lyon, France
3
Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State,
Washington, DC, USA
Content courtesy of Springer Nature, terms of use apply. Rights reserved.
... Wild animals are poached and trafficked for a variety of reasonsfood, clothing, cultural/traditional practices, medicinal uses, decorative items, and as live pets. Globally, the illegal wildlife trade is becoming ubiquitous, driven by the low risk, high reward nature of the activities (Viollaz et al., 2018;Warchol & Harrington, 2016) coupled with globalization, which eases the challenge of international communications, coordination, and delivery (Van Uhm & Nijman, 2020), and persistent demand, particularly from Asian countries (Wyatt et al., 2018). dynamic crime-commission process of a specific form of wildlife crime-the poaching of Amur tigers in the Russian Far East (RFE). ...
... For example, Lemieux and Bruschi (2019) developed both an actor-based script to demonstrate the step-by-step process of how an individual offender hunts jaguars, as well as a product-based script to highlight the different actors and locations involved within the production process and subsequent smuggling to end market consumers of a specific product-jaguar paste. In a very different example, Viollaz et al. (2018) uses script analysis to understand the financial crimes committed by wildlife traffickers throughout the trafficking process. Despite the variation in type of crime, actors involved, focus of script, etc., both these studies demonstrate how crime scripting can be used to elucidate pinch points in the crime commission sequence for a more nuanced understanding of criminal modus operandi in wildlife crime. ...
... Cornish (1994) promoted crime scripting as a companion tool to inform situational crime prevention, a framework that details how an offender's choice to commit a particular crime can be influenced by changing the environment or situational context in which that decision takes place (Clarke, 2008). This includes reducing the opportunities for offenders to commit a crime, decreasing the number of victims or the accessibility of the victim to the offender, and increasing the level of monitoring, making crime more difficult to commit (Viollaz et al., 2018). ...
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... Another example is in wildlife trafficking where stages include attacking, and killing the animal, escaping, and selling as stages in wildlife trafficking (Eloff and Lemieux, 2014). Corruption, theft, fraud, money laundering, and extortion, among other financial crimes have been found to enable these activities (Viollaz et al., 2018). ...
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... Another example is in wildlife trafficking where stages include attacking, and killing the animal, escaping, and selling as stages in wildlife trafficking (Eloff and Lemieux, 2014). Corruption, theft, fraud, money laundering, and extortion, among other financial crimes have been found to enable these activities (Viollaz et al., 2018). ...
Article
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... Sea-and airports are key in environmental black markets because those are the physical location where the illegal goods pass through but they also provide the occupational opportunities for trafficking by means of complicit government or business employees. Finally, also in the financing of the trafficking -and in the laundering of the illegal proceeds -these environmental crimes are both corporate and organised in nature (Ayling, 2013;Viollaz et al., 2018). ...
Chapter
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The assumption that rewards and punishments influence our choices between different courses of action underlies economic, sociological, psychological, and legal thinking about human action. Hence, the notion of a reasoning criminal-one who employs the same sorts of cognitive strategies when contemplating offending as they and the rest of us use when making other decisions-might seem a small contribution to crime control. This conclusion would be mistaken. This volume develops an alternative approach, termed the "rational choice perspective," to explain criminal behaviour. Instead of emphasizing the differences between criminals and non-criminals, it stresses some of the similarities. In particular, while the contributors do not deny the existence of irrational and pathological components in crimes, they suggest that the rational aspects of offending should be explored. An international group of researchers in criminology, psychology, and economics provide a comprehensive review of original research on the criminal offender as a reasoning decision maker. While recognizing the crucial influence of situational factors, the rational choice perspective provides a framework within which to incorporate and locate existing theories about crime. In doing so it also provides both a new agenda for research and sheds a fresh light on deterrent and prevention policies.
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Global trade in illegal wildlife is a potentially vast illicit economy, estimated to be worth billions of dollars each year. Some of the most lucrative illicit wildlife commodities include elephant ivory, rhino horn, sturgeon caviar, and so-called-bushmeat.” Wildlife smuggling may pose a transnational security threat as well as an environmental one. Numerous sources indicate that some organized criminal syndicates, insurgent groups, and foreign military units may be involved in various aspects of international wildlife trafficking. Limited anecdotal evidence also indicates that some terrorist groups may be engaged in wildlife crimes, particularly poaching, for monetary gain. Some observers claim that the participation of such actors in wildlife trafficking can therefore threaten the stability of countries, foster corruption, and encourage violence to protect the trade. Reports of escalating exploitation of protected wildlife, coupled with the emerging prominence of highly organized and well-equipped illicit actors in wildlife trafficking, suggests that policy challenges persist. Commonly cited challenges include legal loopholes that allow poachers and traffickers to operate with impunity, gaps in foreign government capabilities to address smuggling problems, and persistent structural drivers such as lack of alternative livelihoods in source countries and consumer demand. To address the illicit trade in endangered wildlife, the international community has established, through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a global policy framework to regulate and sometimes ban exports of selected species. Domestic, bilateral, regional, and global efforts are intended to support international goals of sustainable conservation, effective resource management, and enforcement of relevant laws and regulations. Increased recognition of the potential consequences of wildlife trafficking has caused some observers and policymakers to question the efficacy of existing U.S. and international responses and consider new options for addressing the problem. In November 2012, for example, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the beginning of a revitalized effort to combat international wildlife trafficking. In July 2013, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13648 on Combating Wildlife Trafficking. The Executive Order identified poaching of protected species and the illegal trade in wildlife and their derivative parts and products as an escalating international crisis that is in the national interest of the United States to combat. The U.S. Congress has played a role in responding to these ongoing challenges and evaluating U.S. policy to combat international wildlife trafficking. Over time, Congress has enacted a wide range of laws to authorize conservation programs, appropriate domestic and international funding for wildlife protection and natural resource capacity building, and target and dismantle wildlife trafficking operations. In recent years, Congress has also held hearings and events that have addressed the growing problem of wildlife crimes and raised key questions for next steps. Interest in wildlife crime may continue in the 113th Congress. Congressional activity may include evaluating the seriousness of the threat as a national security issue, as well as raising questions regarding the effectiveness of existing policies, ranging from biodiversity programs to anti-crime activities.
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