above, for articles in
With this issue, we add a new column featuring essays
and investigative reports--written by journalists, and muckrackers on
ORGANIZED CRIME and CORRUPTION. This month we feature a
compilation of trends on organized crime which are threatening the entire
world. The writer, Roman Kupchinsky, is the editor
of "Crime, Corruption & Terrorism Watch" which
is published by Radio Free Europe (http://www.rferl.org/). His reports, which are based on a variety of sources, pinpoint
emerging trends and activities related to networks of organized crime and
terrorism. We welcome Mr. Kupchinsky as a featured
CRIME Compiled by Roman
Globalization of the world's economic and information infrastructure is shaping
a new organized criminal elite. And while the organized criminal gangs of the
second half of the 20th century have not disappeared, they are preparing to
follow the money and adjust to the economic/regional transformations of the new
Many law enforcement agencies in the United States predict that illegal
schemes will become increasingly far-reaching – both geographically and
otherwise -- and that criminals, more of whom seem to enjoy some measure of
government protection, will become better able to cover their tracks with a
bewildering array of shell companies and legal entities established as front
companies for transnational criminal activities. Even the term "organized crime"
is rapidly being replaced by "organized global crime."
This is how the U.S. National Intelligence Council (NIC) described the
coming criminal threat in its "Global Trends 2015" report issued in December
2000: "Disaffected states, terrorists, proliferators, narcotraffickers, and
organized criminals will take advantage of the new high-speed information
environment and other advances in technology to integrate their illegal
activities and compound their threat to stability and security around the
That report, however, appeared prior to the 11 September 2001 attack on
the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The impact that event had on the U.S.
government's analytical thinking is evident in the follow-up report issued by
the NIC four years later, "Mapping the Global Future" in December 2004.
While maintaining the basic premise of the 2000 report -- that advances
in technology will help determine the future parameters of organized crime --
the newer "Mapping the Global Future" report cautions of the dangers of
organized crime teaming up with terrorism.
"We expect that the relationship between terrorists and organized
criminals will remain primarily a matter of business, i.e., that terrorists will
turn to criminals who can provide forged documents, smuggled weapons, or
clandestine travel assistance when the terrorists cannot procure these goods and
services on their own," the 2005 report's authors write. "Organized
criminal groups, however, are unlikely to form long-term strategic alliances
with terrorists. Organized crime is motivated by the desire to make money and
tends to regard any activity beyond that required to effect profit as bad for
business. For their part, terrorist leaders are concerned that ties to
non-ideological partners will increase the chance of successful police
penetration or that profits will seduce the faithful."
In the "Crime Pattern Analysis" for 2002-03 published by the National
Police Agency of the Netherlands, reference is made to "elite networks" as the
ascendant danger facing European law enforcement. The example provided in the
report is that of a number of Russian's
suspected of criminal activities seeking to buy legitimate businesses in the
metal and energy markets in the Netherlands.
These "elite networks" consist of criminals with high-level contacts
within government and regulatory structures throughout Europe and in Russia who
are able to influence decision makers to their benefit and to the detriment of
the normal commercial process.
"Mapping the Global Future" points out: "Some organized crime
syndicates will form loose alliances with one another. They will attempt to
corrupt leaders of unstable, economically fragile, or failing states, insinuate
themselves into troubled banks and businesses, exploit information technologies, and
cooperate with insurgent movements to control substantial geographic areas."
Earlier "elite network" examples were the BCCI and Bank of New York
scandals, in which billions of dollars were allegedly stolen, then laundered by
members of the political and economic elite of various countries. The scope of
these scams was so great that investigations are still ongoing and the end is
not in sight. These two scandals were soon followed by the disappearance of some
$4 billion of International Monetary Fund (IMF) financing in Russia, which has
also never been solved.
New Ways To
For years, Italian organized crime has been involved in garbage-disposal
schemes, which have earned them millions of dollars. In the past five years,
these criminal organizations have infiltrated the hazardous-waste-disposal
business in the former Soviet Union -- where local officials, under pressure to
dispose of chemical and biological waste, were bribed to sign contracts with
dubious firms who then took the hazardous waste and disposed of it without any
"The Times" of London reported on 9 August 2004 that criminal gangs were
making "up to 2.5 billion euros each year" on
illegal-waste disposal in Italy alone, adding that almost half
of the 80 million tons of waste produced annually is believed to be handled by
In many countries, bottled water already costs more than petroleum; as
potable-water supplies diminish and demand grows, criminals could insert
themselves into this highly lucrative business, thereby influencing agricultural
production as well as
The NIS "Global Trends 2015" report predicted that by 2015, nearly half
of the world's population would live in "water stressed" countries, creating
huge opportunities for global crime groups.
Response By Law Enforcement ?
A United Nations workshop on organized crime (the proceedings of which
can be found at http://www.unis.unvienna.org/unis/pressrels/2005/bkkcp15.html) noted
in April 2005 that:
"crime was traditionally treated as a local or national issue, and
investigation and prosecution of crime was long considered to be confined within
national boundaries... law enforcement is one of the more visible and intrusive
forms of the exercise of political sovereignty, States have traditionally been
reluctant to cooperate with foreign law enforcement agencies."
Unless this attitude is changed soon, many of the NIC's forecasts might
indeed prove warranted by 2015.
Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc.
All rights reserved. Published herein with the author's
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