Andrew Feinstein and Paul Holden
This essay provides a brief overview of arms trafficking, its participants and enabling partners, and the prospects of a reduction in arms trafficking through various legal mechanisms. It looks at two prominent arms traffickers—Viktor Bout and Leonid Minin—to illustrate these discussions. The trade in arms becomes arms trafficking when the deals undertaken violate existing laws on the movement of arms. These laws usually take the form of domestic licensing requirements or international arms embargoes. Arms trafficking is a complex multifaceted crime, and it can involve numerous discrete crimes over and above breaking arms sanctions, including, but not limited to, fraud, corruption, money laundering, smuggling, intimidation, and murder. Arms trafficking is undertaken in the context of the global trade in arms, made up of the formal world of legal trade and the “shadow world” of illegal transactions. Often actors operate in both worlds, and both can be mutually supportive in various ways. The number of collaborators involved in assisting arms traffickers means that successful prosecution of these traffickers is incredibly rare: of more than 500 United Nations arms embargo violations, only one participant has ever been convicted. The prospects for an end to arms trafficking are bleak. Not only are existing legal mechanisms flimsy, there seems to be little political will to develop an international framework that would help legal authorities pursue law-breakers. In addition, many countries are already awash in arms, providing ample opportunity for individuals to easily establish themselves as arms traffickers.
This chapter explores the evolution of concepts and definitions relating to criminal organization since 1750. Terms such as the “underworld,” “organized crime,” and “professional crime” have increasingly become part of the criminal justice lexicon in the modern period. However, while there has been a strong tradition of criminological and sociological investigation into the structures and hierarchies of syndicated crime and street gangs in the first half of the twentieth century, much of this work has been dominated and implicitly shaped by North American contexts. The hidden nature of such criminal activity means that most attention has been paid to those offenders whose recidivism and notoriety brought them into public disrepute. Thus, historians’ investigations into organized crime have been characteristically limited. This chapter provides a broader overview of the historical chronologies and geographies of the “underworld” and explores the key historical studies into the organization of crime in the modern period.
The author draws on findings from several empirical research projects in this essay, which presents an overview of the traditional Chinese organized crime groups and the newly established criminal networks by examining the history, structure, and activities of these groups and networks in Asia and the United States. Next, it examines the link, if any, among these Chinese groups and networks, with groups and networks of other ethnic origin, and with civil and state institutions in their respective societies. It also discusses the problems and prospects of controlling Chinese organized crime. Finally, the essay discusses the future of Chinese organized crime, focusing on the emergence of a new generation of Chinese who are involved in transnational crime. This essay argues that, in fact, no monolithic, worldwide criminal organization called the Chinese Mafia, with headquarters somewhere in Asia, exists.
Kim-Kwang Raymond Choo and Peter Grabosky
This essay considers how information and communications technologies (ICT) are used by organized crime groups. Three categories of groups are identified: traditional organized criminal groups, which make use of ICT to enhance their terrestrial criminal activities; organized cybercriminal groups, which operate exclusively online; and organized groups of ideologically and politically motivated individuals (including state and state-sponsored actors), who make use of ICT to facilitate their criminal conduct. We feel that it is important to draw a distinction between these types of organized criminal groups, particularly when formulating cybersecurity policy, because cybercriminality is not a monolithic threat. The article will note the transnational nature of much organized criminal activity and will discuss mechanisms for the control of organized crime in the digital age.
This essay examines the variation in relationships between drug market enterprises and organized crime across different levels of the market, countries, and drugs (cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine). For example, marijuana markets in Europe are generally characterized by small organizations with little connection to any but the broadest concept of organized crime. On the other hand, trafficking of heroin in Tajikistan is dominated by highly structured organized crime groups with strong connections to the political system. It may well be that, without central and effective corrupt government involvement, drug markets are likely to be fragmented and competitive. Organized crime dominance probably reflects more generally the failure of government rather than drug market specific factors.
The European Union’s policy on organized crime evolved over the years from a vague unease about this problem around 1990 into a rather comprehensive and coherent set of strategies and measures. The programs on security, freedom, and justice that are linked to the important changes in the Treaty on the European Union have played an important role in this ongoing development: the Tampere Programme, the Hague Programme, and the Stockholm Programme. These programs furthered the development of an increasingly common legal framework in the member states, the creation of a number of mutual assistance mechanisms, and the establishment of institutions like Europol and Eurojust in order to deal in a more effective manner with the cross-border manifestations of organized crime.
Antonio La Spina
Cosa Nostra, the ˜Ndrangheta, and the Camorra have their headquarters in Italy. In the past 30 years, Italian policies against the Mafia have developed steadily and are now deemed a best practice all over the world. The most relevant anti-Mafia legislation was adopted as a result of homicides and attacks of criminal organizations against the state. However, in the past years, anti-mafia measures have no longer been reactions to such events. The trend is toward creating a system of anti-Mafia instruments and defining it as a distinctive subsector of security policies. This essay discusses the measures taken (those that directly address and repress criminals and their organizations, and then those that instead address the citizenry, entrepreneurs, professionals, public administration, and, only indirectly, the Mafia itself), presents the institutions involved in the fight against the Mafia, and, finally, sketches an assessment of the overall efficacy of Italian anti-mafia policies.
The essay provides an analysis of financial strategies of organized crime control, including their development from a traditional, vaguely moral concept (“crime should not pay”) to a targeted, functional concept with a strong focus on organized crime (with its particular phenomenological and criminological patterns). Strongly linked to money laundering control, the different models of forfeiture and confiscation developed to become a prime component of organized crime control. In the meantime, the concept has been continuously broadened and adapted to tackle other areas of crime, such as economic crime, tax crime, and terrorism. The sections address all relevant elements of such financial strategies of organized crime control, focusing in particular on: (section II and III) an explanation of their origins, purposes, and conceptual approaches, (section IV) an overview of international actors and instruments that promote and define the field, and (section V) a comparison of different models and strategies of implementation into national legislation. Furthermore, section VI discusses controversies with respect to human rights restraints as well as concerns resulting from problematic practices of seizure and confiscation, concluding with section VII, an outlook on future developments arising from the ongoing broadening into new areas of application and the development of aggravated instruments.
Scott H. Decker and David Pyrooz
This essay places gangs in the broader context of organized criminal groups, including transnational organized crime, drug smuggling networks, human trafficking operations, and terrorist groups. In doing so, it assesses the similarities and differences in the organizational and structure features of gangs in relation to other criminal groups. Based on the authors’ review, they arrive at two conclusions. First, gangs make unattractive partners for organized criminal groups because of their informal and diffuse organizational structure, public and street-oriented exposure, and expressive and cafeteria-style rather than instrumental and specialized offending patterns. Second, it is inappropriate to conclude, due to their limited organizational structure, that gangs are an association of criminals as opposed to a criminal association. While gangs exert little control over their members and lack the coordination that characterizes other groups, group processes found within gangs make them a durable component of urban life.
Dick Hobbs and Georgios A. Antonopoulos
Despite the challenges, the study of organized crime has developed rapidly in the past 20 years in both quantitative and qualitative terms. The purpose of this essay is to provide an overview of the methods and approaches used in researching organized crime and organized crime–related issues. After the Introduction, section II focuses on official data and accounts (including interviews with public officials). Section III deals with quantitative and economic analyses, section IV with historical/archival research, and section V with network analyses. Section VI focuses on ethnographic studies, and section VII on interviewing offenders, consumers/clients, and victims of organized crime. Although the research that has been conducted into this subject cannot be reviewed in its entirety, this essay offers some good examples that typify methodologies associated with the aforementioned genres of research, as well as the problems and limitations that accompany them.
Edward R. Kleemans and Monika Smit
This essay discusses several topics related to human smuggling and human trafficking with a special focus on exploitation in the sex industry. Human smuggling and human trafficking are frequently confused. Human smuggling primarily relates to illegal immigration and the violation of immigration laws, whereas human trafficking primarily relates to exploitation. The essay successively elaborates upon human smuggling, human trafficking for sexual exploitation, policy measures and interventions, and pitfalls and progress in research.
Heith Copes and Lynne Vieraitis
This article provides an overview about identity theft. It elaborates the uncertainty and difficulties in defining the crime. It describes patterns and incidences of identity theft and mentions the primary sources of data that illuminates the extent and costs of this crime. It discusses those who are victimized by the crime and those who engage in it. This article offers two theoretical explanations for the reasons for committing identity theft by offenders. It details the common techniques used to locate information and convert it into cash or goods. Policy ideas, including existing legislation directed towards identity theft prevention, and the policy implications of current knowledge about identity theft are also discussed. Finally, the article outlines the need for future research to understand the crime of identity theft and thus increase the likelihood that policy makers and law enforcement are effective in reducing this crime.
Lynne Vieraitis and Amny Shuraydi
Often cited as one of the fastest-growing crimes in the United States and abroad, identity theft continues to be of great concern to the public. It is a crime that is difficult to control and has become increasingly complex as offenders adapt to target hardening by consumers and businesses and identify new sources of data containing personally identifying information. The purpose of this essay is to provide readers with an overview of identity theft, including what is currently known about the trends and patterns of identity theft, information on offenders and victims, as well as the methods used by identity thieves to steal and convert personally identifying information for financial gain.
Tim Boekhout van Solinge
This essay discusses the involvement of organized crime in natural resource exploitation and trade. This is accomplished by examining case studies from different tropical regions in the world: Africa (Liberia, Sierra Leone, and DR Congo), Southeast Asia (Indonesia), and Latin America (Brazilian Amazon). In doing so, a new or additional meaning is given to the economic concept of a resource curse. This contribution shows that such a recourse curse can be a crime curse, too.
Ever since authorities decided to restrict gambling, criminals have offered the opportunity to play illegally. Since the end of the nineteenth century, illegal gambling also became one of the classic activities of organized crime. Nowadays, opportunities for organizing illegal gambling vary considerably between countries owing to differences in gambling laws and gambling cultures. In countries that regulate all or most types of gambling, such as the member states of the European Union, criminal operators remain active only in market niches. In the United States and Asia, specific types of gambling, such as casinos and sports betting, remain relatively restricted. Here, gambling continues to be an important source of income for organized crime groups. Until fairly recently, illegal gambling operations were largely organized locally or regionally. Since the mid-1990s, however, the Internet globalized (illegal) gambling and related crimes such as match-fixing. Online gambling substantially reduced the effectiveness of existing regulatory regimes and presented new opportunities to criminals, although the extent to which they are actually the beneficial owners of gambling websites is unknown.
This introduction for the Oxford Handbook of Organized Crime begins with the proposition that there are two main notions and types of organized crime: (a) a set of stable organizations illegal per se or whose members systematically engage in crime and (b) a set of serious criminal activities, and particularly the provision of illegal goods and services, mostly carried out for monetary gain. Whereas instances of the first type are relatively rare, criminal money-making activities, which also entail predatory and extortionary activities, occur everywhere. Governments cannot uproot these activities, but they can affect the size, structure, and operating methods of the groups that engage in them. In countries with an effective government, in particular, large-scale criminal organizations are not allowed to consolidate. The control of whatever type of organized crime does not come without a cost, however. Hence, the chapter/article argues, the overall goal of organized crime control policies should be to reduce the total harms resulting from both the organized crime phenomena and the control policies.
Unlike most other developed countries, Italy hosts a few, large-scale, century-old criminal organizations that not only engage in profit-making criminal activities but also exercise quasi-political functions in their areas of settlement, heavily influencing the local economic and political life. These criminal organizations—in short “mafias”—are frequently seen as the ultimate epitome of organized crime. The first section of the essay briefly reconstructs the history of the concept “mafia,” singling out the main meanings that have over the decades been attached to it. The second presents the main criminal organizations currently regarded as mafias in Italy. The bulk of the essay argues that four characteristics distinguish mafia organizations in Italy and mafia-type organizations elsewhere: (1) the organizations’ longevity, (2) their organizational and cultural complexity, (3) their claim to exercise a political dominion over their areas of settlement—a claim that has over the decades been at least partially recognized by the local population and parts of the official government, and (4) their resulting ability to control legitimate markets. The essay argues that the Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the Calabrian ’Ndrangheta meet all four characteristics, whereas several groups of the camorra, which are based in Naples and its surroundings, meet the latter two. The essay concludes by briefly summarizing government and societal anti-mafia action from the early 1990s onward and considering how mafia groups have reacted to it.
Jay S. Albanese
The Mafia in America became a concern that paralleled the immigration wave from Italy during the late 1800s. It was closely associated with victimization within Italian communities in northeastern US cities. National interest in Italian-American organized crime grew after the Prohibition era, and it was ultimately followed by powerful new federal laws to infiltrate organized crime groups, numerous criminal informants coming forward to testify, and many significant convictions, which has weakened the influence of Italian-American groups in American organized crime. The activities of these organized crime groups have remained strikingly similar over the years, although changes in opportunity and criminal markets have impacted Mafia operations, which continue today.
This essay gives an empirical overview of the main trends in the business activities, organizational structures, and inter- and intragroup relationships of Japanese organized crime (essentially monopolized by groups known collectively as yakuza) over the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It argues that the main drivers of yakuza evolution throughout this period have been economic market opportunities and the legal environment in which these groups operate. Over recent decades more effective law-enforcement has encouraged yakuza diversification into a wide range of business activities on both sides of the law. While the yakuza remain surprisingly visible in comparison to equivalent groups in other modern industrial democracies, they are steadily adopting a lower profile. They remain, however, a significant and pernicious presence within the Japanese economy.
Monica Medel and Francisco Thoumi
The story of Mexico’s drug trafficking and today’s unprecedented violence cannot be told without mentioning the United States. This essay offers a historical analysis of the emergence, evolution, and growing power and influence of Mexican drug organizations exploiting the shadows and gaps of the relationship between the two countries. The groups are dubbed “cartels” though they no longer operate like cartels in the traditional sense. They have benefited from political and economic decisions as well as narcotics policy set by both countries in the last century. Even though simple geography accounts a great deal in the development of drug production and smuggling in Mexico, the Mexican political system, its type of governance, and US drug policies have also greatly contributed to the transformation of mom-and-pop gangs into the complex and brutal smuggling syndicates infamous around the globe today.