Organised Crime in an Increasingly Globalised World

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Date added: 17-06-26


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Introduction Globalization, apart from the impact it has in our everyday life, has also significantly contributed to the facilitation and the expansion of crime and more particularly the activities of transnational criminal groups. Organised crime is not a new problem for the authorities internationally, but patterns in the incidence, prevalence and concentration of organized crime are interpreted in terms of social trends that generate increased opportunities. For example, technological innovations in communication and intelligence sharing amongst criminal fraternities, together with political developments, such as the abolition of border controls, have created better conditions and more opportunities for committing criminal activities, such as electronic commerce and evasion of customs and exercise duties, whilst negating, or enabling the circumvention of, capable guardians[1]. The present essay will focus on the abovementioned phenomenon, examining whether there are indeed new opportunities for transnational criminals in the era of globalization and, if yes, what can be done for tackling with this issue. Organised crime and globalisation Organized crime has become a reality as a result of a combination of different factors and the cooperation of a wide range of actors. It also covers a wide range of groups and activities, from drug cartels in North America and criminal groups in Central Africa to piracy, cyber-crime and money-laundering in rogue jurisdictions and uncontrolled economic sectors.[2] Transnational crime depends on and is based on the operation of specific networks and proximal circumstances involved in the commissioning of particular crime. It is of key importance to develop the right environment and boarder social context, such as market for production, exchange and consumption of illicit goods and services, the supply network of motivated offenders, presence of suitable targets and absence of effective enforcement or prevention mechanisms.[3] It is true that ‘globalization has progressed faster than our collective ability to regulate it’ and this is why more unregulated areas have been created as well as more opportunities for organized crime have grown.[4] New Opportunities First of all, nowadays it is remarkable how fast and how cheaply people and goods move around the world. A new form of smuggling involves tourists. Tourists can be effective couriers, helping the promotion of new routes, opening of new markets or sustaining existing ones. The European Union (EU) is an attractive option for transnational criminal activities due to the open borders and the relaxed border controls for EU nationals. For instance, Spain is the major destination for trafficking from South America to Europe, while Caribbean islands, such as Jamaica and St Martin, are main staging posts for drugs on their way to Europe. St Martin is owned jointly by France and Holland, so there are no customs posts between the two parts of the island and no customs posts between the island and its European counterparts.[5] At the same time, remarkable is the growth of global communications and particularly mobile telecommunications. A crime that has found particularly fertile ground to blossom is child pornography. We live in the age of internet, so images can be created, processed and circulated much easier than in the age of hard copies. In this context, cyber-crime and white-collar crimes, such as money-laundering, have transformed to much more advanced and difficult-to-detect activities. The existence of poor-quality exchange controls, low disclosure requirements, offshore financial services, ineffective bank confidentiality rules, areas with loose oversight, in combination with the internationalism of economies and the interconnectednessof markets have paved the way for the creation of criminal friendly environments well disguised in an international context.[6] Just because of globalisation there is a globalised criminal economy worth £1 trillion.[7] Moving now to more traditional types of crimes, it needs to be highlighted that cartel members and criminals have also changed in terms of background, skills and qualifications. Culturally and socially they have little in common with traditional traffickers and regard themselves as superior. Yet they are as central to the operation as the traffickers, for money and drugs are two sides of the same equation. [8] Despite rapid technology advancements and the sophisticated tools used by criminal justice agencies, it is surprising how well criminal groups manage to keep track with advances and new technologies for the purposes of undermining the effectiveness of enforcement and prevention programmes as well as for the completion of their deals. Traffickers are able to use the most sophisticated equipment, such as GPS and satellite software, while at the same time their methods include even spying the authorities to determine the duty hours of customs radar watch personnel or the schedules of Customs jet interceptors’ maintenance and operation.[9] Another aspect is the effect of globalisation on third world countries’ economies. Large populations of impoverished peasants in drug producing countries, such as Columbia, rely on cocaine production seeing it as an opportunity to gain an income higher than that expected in crop-substitution programs.[10] Thus, traffickers have appeared to assist local industries in return for support from peasant unions closely tied to the national labour movement.[11] Since crime has gone global, responses on a national level are by definition insufficient. In this way, the problem is not solved, unless a more international approach is adopted, such as the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime or the Millennium Development Goals. This is the only way forward for combating this threat and minimise the increase of the opportunities that globalisation creates for transnational criminals. Conclusion To sum up, there are considerably extensive opportunities for the occurrence or the expansion of transnational crime in the globalized society we are living in. The criminal organizations’ global reach and capacity is further fortified by rapid developments in communication, information, and transport technologies, the abolition of internal border controls within continental trading blocks and the deregulation of international markets.[12] This poses a huge challenge for both international and national authorities to reinforce their rules and policies, establish strong networks of cooperation and streamline the use of technology and globalization to their advantage, the same way criminals do. BIBLIOGRAPHY BOOKS
  • Bean, Drugs and Crime, (William, 2002)
  • Castells, End of Millennium, Volume III: The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, (Wiley, 2000)
  • Edward and Gill, Transnational organized crime, Perspectives on Global security, (Routledge, 2003)
  • Pearce and Woodiwiss, Global Crime Connections, Dynamics and Control, (Lumiere Press, 1993)
  • Quiggin, Seeing the Invisible: National Security Intelligence in an Uncertain Age, (World Scientific Publishing, 2007)
  • Sheptycki, Transnational & Comparative Criminology, (GlassHouse Press, 2005)
  • Aguilar-Millan,Foltz, Jackson, andOberg, ‘The GlobalizationofCrime’,(2008) The Futurist, <>, accessed 16 March 2014
  • Farer, ‘Fighting Transnational Organized Crime: Measures Short of War’, in Tom Farer, (ed.), Transnational Crime in the Americas, (Routledge, 1999).
  • Mittleman, ‘The Dynamics of Globalization’, in James Mittleman, (ed.), Globalization: Critical Reflections, ( Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1997), 6-10
  • Williams, ‘Organizing Transnational Crime: Networks, Markets and Hierarchies’, (1998) Transnational Organized Crime, Vol.4, Nos. 3 and 4, 57-86.
[1] James Sheptycki, Transnational & Comparative Criminology, (GlassHouse Press 2005) p.215 [2] UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), The Globalization of Crime: A Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment, 17 June 2010,<> accessed 15 March 2014 [3] Sheptycki (n.1). [4] UNODC (n.2), p. 18. [5] Philip Bean, Drugs and Crime, (William 2002) p.104-5 [6] Frank Pearce and Michael Woodiwiss, Global Crime Connections, Dynamics and Control, (Lumiere Press, 1993) p.45 [7] Manuel Castells, End of Millennium, Volume III: The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, (Wiley, 2000), p. 361. [8] Tom Farer, ‘Fighting Transnational Organized Crime: Measures Short of War’, in Tom Farer, (ed.), Transnational Crime in the Americas, (Routledge, 1999). p. 251 [9] Pearce and Woodiwiss (n.6) p.46-7 [10] Bean, (n. 5) p.100 [11] Thomas Quiggin, Seeing the Invisible: National Security Intelligence in an Uncertain Age, (World Scientific Publishing, 2007), p.55. [12] Adams Edward and Peter Gill, Transnational organized crime, Perspectives on Global security, (Routledge 2003), p.39.
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