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increase trade and development. Crime groups have exploited the enormous
decline in regulations, the lessened border controls, and the greater freedom to
expand their activities across borders and into new regions of the world. They
travel to regions where they cannot be extradited, base their operations in
countries with ineffective or corrupted law enforcement, and launder their money
in countries with bank secrecy or few effective controls. By segmenting their
operations, they benefit from globalization while simultaneously reducing the
risks of operating.

In the 1960s, most of the growth of transnational crime was linked to the rise of
drug trafficking in such regions as Asia, Latin America, Africa, and even Italy, the
home of the original Mafia. By the late 1980s, the trade in drugs was already equal
to that of textiles and steel (United Nations International Drug Control
Programme, 1997). Though the drug trade remains the most lucrative aspect of
transnational crime, the last few decades have seen an enormous rise in human
trafficking and smuggling (Naím, 2006). Yet what all these transnational crimes
have in common is that they are conducted primarily by actors based in
developing countries who cannot compete in the legitimate economies of the
world, which are dominated by multinational corporations based in the most
affluent countries. Therefore, the criminals have exploited and developed the
demand for illicit commodities such as drugs, people, arms, and endangered
species.

Globalization has increased the economic disparities between the citizens of the
developed and developing worlds. Marginalization of many rural communities,
decline of small-scale agriculture, and problems of enhanced international
competition have contributed to the rise of the drug trade as farmers look for
valuable crops to support their families. The financial need is exploited by the
international crime groups. The same economic and demographic forces have
created pressures for emigration, yet barriers to entry into the most affluent
societies have increased. Criminals have been able to exploit the demand for

l f h l b d f l i ki h li
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1 The Globalization of Crime

Louise Shelley

Transnational crime is not a new phenomenon. The Barbary pirates that terrorized
the numerous states along the Mediterranean, the trade in coolies from Macao by
nineteenth-century Chinese crime groups (Seagrave, 1995), and the international
movement and exchanges of Italian mafiosi for the last century illustrate that
crime has always been global. Already in the 1930s, Italian organized criminals in
the United States were traveling to Kobe, Japan, and Shanghai, China, to buy
drugs, and members of U.S. crime gangs took refuge in China in the 1930s to
avoid the reach of American law enforcement (Kaplan & Dubro, 2003). Italian
organized crime was renewed in the United States by new recruits from Italy, and
the postwar resurgence of the Mafia in Italy was facilitated by the arrival of
American mafiosi with the U.S. military in Sicily in 1943. An active white slave
trade existed between Eastern Europe and Argentina and Brazil in the early
decades of the twentieth century (Glickman, 2000; Vincent, 2005).

What has changed from the earlier decades of transnational crime is the speed,
the extent, and the diversity of the actors involved. Globalization has increased the
opportunities for criminals, and criminals have been among the major
beneficiaries of globalization. The criminals’ international expansion has been
made possible by the increasing movement of people and goods and the increasing
ease of communication that have made it possible to hide the illicit among the
expanding licit movement of people and goods. More significantly, the control of
crime is state-based, whereas nonstate actors such as criminals and terrorists
operate transnationally, exploiting the loopholes within state-based legal systems
to expand their reach.

Globalization is coupled with an ideology of free markets and free trade, as well
as a decline in state intervention. According to advocates of globalization,
reducing international regulations and barriers to trade and investment will

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and trafficking grow rapidly.

Globalization of Crime: Forms and Methods

The drug trade was the first illicit sector to maximize profits in a globalized world.
But as the market for drugs became more competitive and the international
response to it increased, profits were reduced through competition and enhanced
risk. Many other forms of crime have therefore expanded as criminals exploited
the possibilities of global trade. These crimes include human trafficking and
smuggling; trafficking in arms, endangered species, art, and antiquities; illegal
dumping of hazardous waste; and counterfeiting and credit card frauds.

Money laundering has occurred on a mass scale because the financial system
can move money rapidly through bank accounts in several countries in a short
period. A transaction that might take only one hour to complete and involve banks
in three different countries will take law enforcement more than a year to untangle
– if they have the full cooperation of law enforcement and banks in each of these
countries. With the increase in offshore banking, criminals are able to hide their
money in these global safe havens without any fear of law enforcement. Moreover,
banks often do not perform more than nominal due diligence (Global Witness,
2009).

Global criminal activity has been facilitated by the possibility of speedy and
secure communication. Child pornography has spread because the Internet makes
it possible to distribute pornography anonymously through Web sites. Material can
be produced in one country and distributed in another by means of the Web, e-
mail, and an international financial system that facilitates wire transfers. Drug
traffickers can use encryption to provide security for their messages concerning
their business operations. Informal financial transfers can be made without a trace,
aided by instant messages on computers, and wire transfers made by fax or
computer to offshore locales place massive amounts of funds outside of any state
regulation. 66% of sample

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Agreement within the European Union and NAFTA in North America permits
individuals to travel within a significant part of Western Europe without border
checks. This means that criminals can enter Europe at one point and freely move
within a significant part of the continent without any passport controls. This has
been exploited by Chinese smugglers, who have moved hundreds of thousands of
Chinese into France from other entry points in Europe, and by Ukrainian criminals
who took advantage of easy access to visas from the German embassy in Kyiv to
move large numbers of criminals and traffic women to different parts of Europe.

Border regions in conflict or weakened states experience an absence of effective
border controls. In many Asian multiborder areas there is an absence of
governmental control, where the crime groups and the smugglers have become the
dominant powers. Illustrative of this is the Golden Triangle region in which drugs,
women, and children trafficked from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and southern
China flow into northern Thailand. In the triborder area of Argentina, Brazil, and
Paraguay, crossborder smuggling thrives. But the links between terrorism and
crime also flourish in such lawless areas. For example, Hezbollah planned and
financially supported its bombing of the Jewish communities in Argentina in the
mid-1990s from this region.

The borders of the former Soviet Union are penetrated not only by drug
traffickers from Afghanistan. With the collapse of effective controls across the
eleven time zones that represent the former USSR, the borders have been rendered
indefensible. Across them flow an incredible range of commodities including
arms, military technology, nuclear materials, and precious metals; increasingly,
there is also an illicit flow of people across these borders.

The porous border areas of Europe, particularly the large seacoasts along the
Mediterranean, are the locus of significant smuggling. In Morocco, for example,
networks smuggling men to Europe have been adapted for human trafficking,
bringing African women into the European sex markets. Large-scale smuggling of
illegal migrants is underway from Africa into Spain, and the Italian coast receives
A i i i t ll i i t f N th Af i

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Specialists from different countries are hired to help with transport, money
laundering, and the information technology needed to encrypt their
communications. Colorful examples of this globalization of Colombian organized
crime include the Tarzan case in the United States in which a Russian organized
crime figure was prosecuted for working with members of Colombian drug
trafficking organizations to purchase Russian submarines and other technology to
facilitate their activities. This operation failed. Russian scientists were
subsequently imported to Colombia to build a submarine (Lintner, 2002).

Summary and Conclusion

Globalization has contributed to an enormous growth in crime across borders as
criminals exploit the ability to move goods and people. Technologies, such as
satellite and cell phones, the Internet, and the Web, have been used to facilitate
communication among criminals. Although the narcotics trade has been
international for a long time yet it has increased significantly with globalization.
Globalization has also contributed to an enormous increase in the following
categories of crime: human smuggling and trafficking, arms trafficking, trafficking
in art, counterfeit goods, credit card fraud, and counterfeiting. Money laundering
has increased dramatically in the globalized economy; the illicit funds move along
with the licit funds and are frequently hidden in the numerous offshore financial
havens that have proliferated in recent decades.

The problems that have caused this globalization of crime are very deep-seated.
They result from the enormous disparities in wealth among countries, the rise of
regional conflicts, and the increasing movement of goods and people and the
increasing speed and facility of communication. States have little capacity to fight
this transnational crime because state laws are nation-based but the criminals are
operating globally.
References

Andreas, P. (2000). Border Games Policing the U.S.–Mexico72% of sample

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Glickman, N. (2000). The Jewish White Slave Trade and the
Untold Story of Raquel Liberman. New York: Garland.
Global Witness. (2009). Undue Diligence: How Banks Do
Business with Corrupt Regimes. London: Global Witness.
Kaplan, D. E. & A. Dubro (2003). Yakuza Japan’s Criminal
Underworld. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Lintner, B. (2002). Blood Brothers: The Criminal Underworld
of Asia. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Naím, M. (2006) Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers and
Copycats Are Hijacking the Global Economy. New York:
Anchor.
Nordstrom, C. (2007). Global Outlaws: Crime, Money and
Power in the Contemporary World. Berkeley and Los Angeles:
University of California.
Seagrave, S. (1995). Lords of the Rim: The Invisible Empire of
the Overseas Chinese. London and New York: Bantam Press.
Thoumi, F. E. (2003). Illegal Drugs, Economy and Society in
the Andes. Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press.
United Nations International Drug Control Programme.
(1997). World Drug Report. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Vincent, I. (2005). Bodies and Souls: The Tragic Plight of Three
Jewish Women Forced into Prostitution in the Americas. New
York: William Morrow.

Web Sites

Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC): http://policy-
traccc.gmu.edu
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: http://www.unodc.org
Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security73% of sample

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Political Transitions and Globalized Crime

The end of the Cold War has had an enormous impact on the rise of transnational
crime. The most important consequences are the political and economic transition
under way in the former communist states and the concomitant rise in regional
conflicts. With the end of the superpower conflict, the potential for large-scale
conflict has diminished, but since the late 1990s there has been a phenomenal rise
in the number of regional conflicts. Although regional in nature, these conflicts
have entered into the global economy because the arms and the manpower they
require have often been paid for by transnational criminal activity. Drugs and
diamonds are just two of the commodities that have been entered into the illicit
economy to pay for the arms needed to fuel the conflicts (Nordstrom, 2007). In
turn, these conflicts have produced unprecedented numbers of refugees and have
destroyed the legitimate economies of their regions.

These conflicts decimate the state and divert government energy away from the
social welfare of citizens. All efforts are instead devoted to the maintenance of
power and the suppression of rebellions. Citizens are left without social
protections or a means of financial support. The low priority attached to women
and children in conflict regions has made them particularly vulnerable to
traffickers in those regions. Psychologically damaged by years of conflict, they
have neither the psychological nor the financial means to resist the human
traffickers. They are moved along the same global routes used by the human
smugglers who exploit men trying to leave economically difficult situations to find
employment in more affluent societies.

Decline of Border Controls and Globalized Crime

The decline of border controls has proved to be an important facilitator of
transnational crime. In some cases, the decline is a consequence of deliberate
policy decisions, whereas in other cases it is a result of major political transitions68% of sample

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A similar dynamic exists along the U.S.–Mexico border, which has large
sections that are poorly policed (Andreas, 2000). This border has been the locus of
smuggling for more than a century. The Mexican drug cartels have grown
dramatically in the last two decades as their proximity to the loosely guarded
U.S.–Mexican frontier has given them a competitive advantage over the
Colombian cartels. The ever present demand for cheap labor in the United States
and the huge economic imbalance between the U.S. and Mexican economies have
fueled a huge illicit population flow across the U.S. border.

Globalization of Crime Groups

Crime groups on all continents try to globalize their activities for many of the
same reasons as their legitimate counterparts. They seek to exploit valuable
international markets, to run internationally integrated businesses, and to reduce
risk. They obtain entrée into new markets outside their regions in different ways.
When organized crime is closely linked with legitimate business, for example, in
the Russian and Japanese cases, the global expansion of legitimate business
provides the opportunity for the criminals to globalize. For example, as Japan’s
large corporations globalized their business, the criminals moved with them,
extorting from the corporations’ foreign affiliates (Kaplan & Dubro, 2003).
Therefore, the illegitimate business follows the patterns of the legitimate business.

Colombian drug organizations have been the most successful in globalizing
their business activities. They have far surpassed in profitability the traditional
crime groups of Italy and Japan. Their success is based on many of the same
principles found in the globalization of large legitimate corporations. They run
network-based businesses, not top-down hierarchical structures. They integrate
their businesses across continents. The drug cultivation and processing are done at
low-cost production sites in Latin America, their products are marketed to the
lucrative Western European and American markets, and the profits are laundered
at home, in offshore locales such as the Caribbean, and in international financial70% of sample

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International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (issued annually):
www.state.gov/p/inl/rls/nrcrpt/
International Organization for Migration: www.iom.int

About the Author

Louise Shelley is a professor in the School of Public Policy at George Mason
University and the founder and director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and
Corruption Center. She has just published a book entitled Human Trafficking: A
Global Perspective (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and is currently writing
one on the relationship of crime, terrorism, and corruption. She is the author of
many articles and book chapters on different aspects of transnational crime. She
serves on the global agenda council on illicit trade of the World Economic Forum.

2 Routine Activities and Transnational Crime

Marcus Felson

Overview

All crime is local. That statement seems to be brusque and to conflict with the
existence of transnational crime. But in this chapter I will defend the statement
and show how emphasizing that crime is local helps us understand transnational
crime to a greater extent.

Every criminal act can be disaggregated into a sequence of events. If this chain
or sequence includes a border crossing, it is easily classified as transnational. But
that classification does not tell the whole story. One or more elements in the
sequence has to occur locally (see Levi & Reuter, 2006; van Duyne & Levi, 2005).
Indeed, all crime requires a local focus of action at some point, perhaps at most
points in its sequence We expect that most transnational crimes include a chain of

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