When Crime Goes Global
Students and in some cases professionals in the world of criminal justice feel that the field should focus on America and American interests, however as the world becomes increasingly interconnected, crime is increasingly becoming international/transnational. Meaning that crime no longer occurs in an American Vacuum. Crimes that may be committed on American soil may have their beginnings in foreign lands, some of these crimes include gang violence, human trafficking, trafficking in persons, drug and arms trafficking. This globalization of crime is known as Transnational Organized Crime or TOC.
“Transnational organized crime refers to those self-perpetuating associations of individuals who operate transnationally for the purpose of obtaining power, influence, monetary and/or commercial gains, wholly or in part by illegal means, while protecting their activities through a pattern of corruption and/ or violence, or while protecting their illegal activities through a transnational organizational structure and the exploitation of transnational commerce or communication mechanisms. There is no single structure under which transnational organized criminals operate; they vary from hierarchies to clans, networks, and cells, and may evolve to other structures. The crimes they commit also vary.” (Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime: Definition | The White House, n.d.) Simply put, TOC is crime that will occur across national boundaries and proves to be a valid and continuing threat to American national security. This is due to the fact that criminal organizations can utilize TOC groups to traffic weapons and other instruments that are required to perpetrate terrorist actions, TOC groups that traffic in narcotics can be using those profits to fund terrorist organizations, trafficking in persons may be one method to transport terrorist cells into the United States. Due to the fact that TOC groups are a threat to national security and have the potential to operate in any area of the United States it is important for students and professionals in the criminal justice system to have a basic understanding of the nature of transnational organized crime. “Each year, transnational organized crime generates an estimated $870 billion, threatening peace and human security, leading to human rights being violated and undermining economic, social, cultural and political development of societies around the world.”( Transnational Organized Crime: Let's put them out of business, n.d.)
What makes TOC difficult to pin down and difficult to combat is the fact that there is no one agreed upon definition of what constitutes TOC (much like terrorism where there is no one agreed upon definition). However the United Nations uses the following:
The UNTOC does not contain a precise definition of 'transnational organized crime'. Nor does it list the kinds of crimes that might constitute it.
This lack of definition was intended to allow for a broader applicability of the Organized Crime Convention to new types of crime that emerge constantly as global, regional and local conditions change over time..
The Convention does contain a definition of 'organized criminal group'. In Article 2(a):
•a group of three or more persons that was not randomly formed;
•existing for a period of time;
•acting in concert with the aim of committing at least one crime punishable by at least four years' incarceration;
•in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit. (Organized Crime, n.d.)
Of importance for national security is the fact that “Developing countries with weak rule of law can be particularly susceptible to TOC penetration. TOC penetration of states is deepening, leading to co-option in a few cases and further weakening of governance in many others.” (Transnational Organized Crime: A Growing Threat to National and International Security | The White House, n.d.) This can prove problematic for several reasons. The primary being, those developing nations that are must susceptible to TOC infiltration can also be used as locations of or hubs for narcotics trafficking, trafficking in persons and/or may be a location for a state sponsor of terrorism or may be a location for terrorist training camps. Of importance to the homeland, transnational crime has expanded to the point where it is including traditional street gangs. “Including transnational gangs—have expanded and matured, threatening the security of citizens and the stability of governments throughout the region, with direct security implications for the United States. Central America is a key area of converging threats where illicit trafficking in drugs, people, and weapons—as well as other revenue streams—fuel increased instability.”( Transnational Organized Crime: A Growing Threat to National and International Security | The White House, n.d.) Again this can have an impact on the nature of crime in America as traditional street gangs may begin to involve themselves with transnational type crimes including human and drug trafficking. Any profit that may be gained from these criminal activities may be used to fund terrorist operations against the United States and her allies.
Organized Crime. (n.d.). United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/organized-crime/
Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime: Definition | The White House. (n.d.). The White House. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/nsc/transnational-crime/definition
Transnational Organized Crime: A Growing Threat to National and International Security | The White House. (n.d.). The White House. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/nsc/transnational-crime/threat
Transnational Organized Crime: Let's put them out of business. (n.d.). United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved April 20, 2013, from http://www.unodc.org/toc/