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1 Introduction or the last quarter-century, Americans have become intensely con- scions of the nation's vulnerability to criminal activities originating ~ in other countries. Cocaine ancl heroin have caused great damage to the nation ancl both are produced entirely outside the Unitecl States, not- withstancling sustained efforts to suppress foreign procluction, inhibit smug- gling, ancl seize traffickers' assets. Commercial ancl large-scale smuggling of illegal immigrants into the Unitecl States has become more prominent. Other less well-articulatecl criminal threats to national sovereignty (such as the smuggling of chlorofluorocarbons ancl the killing of a journalist in the Unitecl States, in reprisal for investigative reporting on drug traffickers in Columbia) have prominence from time to time. Western European gov- ernments have also become concerned with these problems. This phenomenon of transnational crime has been affected by three related factors. First is the globalization of the economy, which brings U.S. .. . . . . · 1 r · · ~ T citizens anc ~ corporations into increasing contact With foreign entitles. in particular, there is unease about the potential ability of foreigners to ma nipulate funds for criminal purposes within the Unitecl States. The end of the cold war has contributecl, in a number of ways, to this economic inte gration ancl the growth of opportunities for illicit transactions across bor clers (Winer, 1997b). Second is the rise in the numbers ancl the heteroge neity of immigrants. Although famously ancl self-consciously a nation of immigrants, the Unitecl States has never had such large numbers of people
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2 TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME arrive from places so scattered around the world, bringing with them social and commercial networks that make law enforcement more difficult and that facilitate conspiracy. The porousness of the border with Mexico, which has only recently become a major trading partner for the United States, in particular reinforces people's perception that the nation is not in control of its destiny. Third, improved communications technology makes borders even more permeable, but by inconspicuous means. Criminal activities can be carried out in the United States by foreigners without anyone's crossing a border (Marx, 19981. No doubt one can find historical precedents for all of these factors or even a period in time when all three of them appeared as important parts of the American reality. But they are very prominent now and it takes only a small number of incidents, such as the extensive frauds committed by the Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI) or the capturing of a large group of Chinese immigrants being smuggled in a ship, to give sub- stance to general fears. Transnational organized crime has attracted a good deal of media at- tention; the activities of criminal organizations tend to make good stories. Politically there has also been some highly visible activity, with President Clinton devoting two major United Nations speeches to these matters and promulgating a Presidential Decision Directive (Number 42, October 22, 1995) against international organized crime. In the 1995 meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) nations, control of transnational organized crime was a principal item on the agenda. At the programmatic level, the U.S. gov- ernment has become involved in efforts to help other governments (e.g., Colombia, Italy, and Russia) deal with criminal organizations that pose a threat to both the United States and the host nation. Systematic research on these problems, however, has lagged considerably. During the 1990s, the National Institute of Justice (NIT) of the U.S. Department of Justice became interested in international crime problems and the ways in which they affect domestic crime in the United States. NIT recently has strengthened its links with the international community in important ways: through membership in a worldwide network of crimino- logical institutes affiliated with the United Nations (UN); through its par- ticipation in the development of the United Nations Criminal Justice In- formation Network; through initiation of the United Nations Online Justice Clearinghouse, an Internet-based system electronically linking the institutes to the UN network; and by establishing a new International Cen- ter within NIJ. In addition to building links with criminal justice research
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INTRODUCTION 3 ers in other nations, these activities have enabled the United States to gain better access to internationally available research information on transnational organized crime. Most international research efforts are de- scriptive rather than analytical, however. It is against this backdrop that, in 1997, the National Institute of Tus- tice asked the National Research Council's Committee on Law and Justice to organize a workshop on transnational organized crime. NIT was inter- ested in exploring ways in which to promote U.S. research interests and to augment the UN's research activities with regard to these problems. Re- search interest in the United States has been stimulated by the difficulty of controlling the high volume of trafficking in illicit drugs, illegal immi- grants, and other illegal goods and services. Reports of high profits from these activities have also generated concern that significant flows of illegal cash may pose a threat to the integrity of financial structures in this country and others. Many questions focus on what is intrinsically new about these crimes and what kinds of knowledge are needed to prevent and control them. Use of traditional investigative methods, such as intelligence gathering and the use of informants, appears inadequate to the task. The overarching pur- pose of the workshop was to determine whether transnational crime is a persistent and measurable phenomenon that merits its own research atten- tion, and whether an agenda for systematic domestic and international re- search on it could be developed. The workshop was designed with four specific goals: 1. To explore alternative ways of defining and conceptualizing transnational organized crime; 2. To assess the ability to measure transnational organized crime, fo- cusing on the extent and distribution of perceived or real increases in crimi- nal activities and the power of the organizations involved; 3. To identify possible enforcement and control responses to trans- national crime problems, especially as they are manifest at the state and local level; and 4. To examine the factors that facilitate the function, organization, and structural patterns of transnational crime so that prevention approaches could be designed in collaboration with legitimate enterprises and interna- tional partners. The Committee on Law and Justice was responsible for developing
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4 TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME this two-day workshop, held June 17 and 18, 1998, in Washington, D.C. The participants represented a range of disciplines, including economics, sociology, psychology, law, foreign affairs, public policy, and other profes- sions; they also included federal officials and law enforcement personnel. A number of papers were commissioned in advance to pull together re- search findings reflecting the workshop's goals. A focused discussion was conducted on measurement issues. Through the presentations of the pa- pers and interactive discussions, which provide the structure for this report, . . t. le participants: · Distilled the descriptive research with regard to the definition, scope, and organization of transnational organized crime and discussed the limitations of that research (Chapter 21. · Explored measurement issues, particularly the extent to which they are intertwined with problems of definition and the attendant difficulties that are associated with conducting systematic research in this area (Chap- ter 31. · Examined enforcement practices and problems, emphasizing the dominance of federal agencies, the need for bilateral or multilateral coop- erative efforts, and the lack of awareness and expertise at the local level, where much transnational crime first surfaces (Chapter 41. · Considered promising directions for future research on trans- national organized crime, with emphasis on laying a foundation for the development of future prevention and control strategies (Chapter 51. The agenda was concerned with U.S. policy issues and the various ways in which the United States should be dealing with these offenses. Transnational organized crime activities taking place entirely in other na- tions were also considered specifically in terms of U.S. interests. We also used instances of organized crime activities taking place in other nations for illustrative purposes and for developing insights about the practical chal- lenge of improving operational effectiveness and research approaches. An emphasis was placed on activities in two countries, Mexico and Russia, that were considered particularly important because their organized crime prob- lems have significant domestic and foreign policy consequences for the United States. Four prominent scholars agreed to write papers, which served as focal points for discussion. The papers have been bound as workshop products for submission to the sponsor and other workshop participants. The au
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INTRODUCTION 5 thors are expected to submit them for publication to journals or other dis . . semlnatlon organs. This report attempts to capture the richness of the many insights and impressions offered at the workshop. The participants' perspectives on the issues and appropriate research approaches varied widely. Keenly aware of the political controversy that surrounds many of these issues, they under- stood that shifts in the political or legal environment for example, legisla- tive changes that criminalize once-legal behavior or decriminalize formerly illegal activity can complicate the conduct of research on these matters, counterbalancing even the best research designs or measurement systems. As can be seen throughout this volume, and particularly in the chapter on definitions, considerable difficulty characterized the framing of the workshop; it is therefore important to clarify what is and is not included here, and why. For example, a decision was made to deemphasize terrorism and to focus on other types of transnational crime. There were several reasons for this. First, terrorism receives a good deal of attention in these kinds of gatherings and tends to overwhelm other crime types, which may seem far less serious in comparison. Second, terrorism differs from other transnational crimes, for example in its clients or consumers and in the way terrorist acts (whether domestic or international) versus other crimes are addressed in the operational and academic worlds. It seemed a better idea to develop some specificity in one area before attempting to put them to- gether, and a workshop seemed ideally suited for this. Third, many transnational crime problems unrelated to terrorism are arising in Western Europe and in the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe, and these crimes are having both direct and indirect effects in the United States. These crime problems also are of interest because of their impact on new law enforcement infrastructures being developed in these countries. That said, however, it was impossible to exclude from this report all discussion of terrorism, and the national security apparatuses that deal with it. Indeed, one workshop participant made the point that there is no con- sensus about the nature of transnational threats in the national security community, nor is there much discrimination between terrorism and other kinds of transnational offenses. Thus, it is important to acknowledge that terrorism is included in the UN definition of transnational crime, and (along with drug trafficking) is the crime most worrisome to the public. Moreover, terrorism may be importantly connected to other kinds of transnational crime, either because some criminal groups are enlisted in terrorist acts, or terrorists themselves act for pecuniary as well as political
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6 TRANSNATIONAL ORGANIZED CRIME motives, or because some terrorist groups use criminal means to achieve their nonmonetary aims. These dangers are nowhere more evident than in the trafficking of nuclear weapons, which is mentioned in relation to Rus- sian organized crime in Chapters 4 and 5. A second issue involving the goals of the workshop is whether and how a definition of transnational organized crime can be developed for research purposes. During the course of the workshop discussions, it became clear that no single definition has currency or agreement. In general, the work- shop participants agreed that the field is not ready for a single perspective and were content to let 1,000 flowers (definitions and concepts) bloom. In addition, as the discussion of measurement illustrates, deriving a research definition was constrained by the fact that, with the exception of drug trafficking, there are no major datasets on transnational crime, such as sur- vey or longitudinal data, and virtually no data sources independent of op- erations. At the current stage of research development, data can come only from investigations or litigation, and through case studies and observa- tional studies. Thus, while the workshop focused specifically on research issues, the entire discussion and especially the research agenda outlined in Chapter 5 should be considered in the context of the need for operations and research to work hand in glove, at least for a while. The Committee on Law and Justice hopes that this report will be a stimulus to more thorough and ongoing consideration of the research needs in this policy area.
Representative terms from entire chapter: