31 December 2007

"Postcode gangs"

Some information on London street gangs and their territorial nature. Not yet "organised crime" but some links to drug distribution. Presumably there is some research on network development in the criminological literature?

The Prum Treaty

The link is to a report by the House of Lords European Committee on the Prum Treaty,which is mainly concerned with the exchange of data across borders to combat terrorism illegal immigration and crime. The signatories are Benelux, Germany, Austria, Spain and France. I picked up its existence in a piece in Private Eye [21st December to 11th January] , the British satirical magazine, which alleges that the UK is signing up to a parallel treaty that doesnt include "hot pursuit" across borders.
I'm quite surprised to have missed this Treaty, but will be following it up!

27 December 2007

Savage Silencing of Mexico's Musicians

This is a story that's been growing in the North American press. At least 12 Mexican pop singers have been murdered, in a manner that suggests drug gang hitmen are involved. This Washington Post piece suggests that drug traffickers are financing some pop careers, partly to use concerts as money-laundering opportunities. There are songs known as "narcocorridos" that celebrate drug lords. But it is not at all clear who is killing singers or why.

Crime in New York continues to fall

Number of major felonies fallen for 17th successive year. Policing strategy seen as responsible. More on Operation Impact and hot-spot policing in New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/27/nyregion/27crime.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&th&emc=th

26 December 2007

Los Angeles Combating Gangs Gone International

Interesting piece from the New York Times that implies that deportation may not be the solution to either illegal immigration or "terrorism". Instead deportation may strengthen international links. The article argues that street gangs in Los Angeles have expanded their networks in Central America and Mexico. It's a confused piece which needs to be followed up.

25 December 2007

Rare for employer to face criminal charges for hiring illegal immigrants

That old "supply and demand problem". Washington Post article suggests that the employee gets the criminal charge, but rarely the employer, despite Administration rhetoric.

Whitehall accused of drug cover-up

Criticism of Home Office manipulation of the presentation of official statistics. Needless to say, the Home Office doesn't see that it has done anything wrong. Unfortunately the Statistics Commission disagrees. These are statistics on drugs. There is a warning here for researchers.

More on Shadowcrew

A longer article from October. There is more on modus operandi and the nature of roles in the network here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3965975.stm
It describes a "borderless" "e-crime network" whose members don't need to meet.


An identity theft network this time. Apologies for the pause in blogging for the last four weeks. Your blogmeister broke his arm for Christmas. Capital letters may be a little hit and miss for a while.
This article refers to Opration Firewall and to a group called Shadowcrew. I will insert further links as I discover them.

Thousands Sought over Child Porn

This piece from the BBC refers to "12,000 suspected members" of a network. It may be aceptable for journlists to declare them a network, but are they a network in criminological terms? Do we require horizontal connections as well as vertical ones?

24 November 2007

Tax Fraud in Washington

While the UK Revenue loses computer discs, Washington DC loses millions of dollars of local taxes. At present presented as a "friends and family" scam with no link to organised crime groups like the Mafia.

Brothels raided

Operation Pentameter 2 reaches the South West. Only one claim of human trafficking so far . Previous BBC reports have suggested that brothrls have spread to rural areas in the UK. The UK Human Trafficking Centre and Project Poppy have been set up to respond.
Pentameter 2 started on 3rd October 2007. It is a victim-focussed project, linked to a G6 initiative led by the UK and Poland.

23 November 2007

Schengen "Big Bang"

This is an important development, but is the European Union really ready for it? Schengen is a boon for air and road passengers, but are the external borders of the EU adequately policed? It has been argued that "organised crime" abolished the borders long before Schengen came along. "Fortress UK" is always suspicious, but are the arrangements to communicate criminal records across borders, follow investigations and safeguard human rights really in place?
How do researchers from other Member States feel? What has been published evaluated Schengen?
In a week when the UK government "lost" details on 25 million citizens, how do we feel about the second generation of the Schengen Information System?
Organised crime, cross-border crime or criminal networks...is the Schengen system relevant? The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies had a research report on the feasibility of an all-EU criminal records database which I will link if it is still on the web.

Methamphetamine in Eastern Europe

Article from the New York Times on small-scale production of methamphetamine in Eastern Europe. It warns that once small-scale producers have created a demand, it creates the possibility for bigger producers to enter the market and compares with the American experience. Klaus von Lampe may have a comment to make on the contrast with cigarette smuggling rings.
It may be that you have to register with the New York Times before you will be able to read the article. There is a free registration process.

Annual Report of European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

The linked newspaper article from the Guardian concentrates on the UK, and the headline indicates that the UK is the worst country in Europe for under age drug-taking [ie among 13 year olds]. There is a graphic comparing EU countries across the board. The important statistics are that cocaine use is rising across Europe and that cannabis use in the Uk among 15-30 year olds has actually gone down, with Spain now the largest users, followed by the Czech Republic and Italy. The newspaper report is a bit garbled and the full report needs to be browsed. Comments would be useful.
If usage in the UK has fallen is there any connection to making cannabis a category C drug? That has to be the interesting question for researchers. Equally, if it has fallen, is it then likely to rise again if it is reclassified? Watch this space.

22 November 2007

British Girls Found Guilty of trying to smuggle drugs out of Ghana

This article from the Independent raises the wider issues of the role of Ghana in drug smuggling from Latin America to Europe. It mentions Operation Westbridge , a joint Ghanaian and UK police investigation of drug smuggling and the case of the Benjamin, a ship that was identified as "of interest" but slipped through the net into port and the majority of whose cargo of cocaine vanished. Allegations of police corruption have followed, but nothing has been proved.

21 November 2007

Cocaine Smuggling in 2006

This report is one of the lead articles on the National Justice Criminal Reference Service website at:
if you don't know it, its well worth a regular visit!

The report includes lots of statistics and colour illustrations. Very pretty!

UNODC Website relaunch

While navigating through my bookmarks in search of information for the ever-hungry readers of this blog, I discovered that the UNODC link was broken. Further investigation revealed a relaunch of the website of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Update your bookmarks immediately!

"Slab" Murphy faces Tax Charges

Thomas "Slab" Murphy has been accused of many things in the British and Irish press and this trial will be closely monitored because of his alleged links with the IRA and its funding. The outcome of the trial and possible connected cases may also have an impact on the Democratic Unionists view of their power-sharing arrangements with Sinn Fein.

Triads Run £1billion Scots Cannabis Industry

A Top cop last night told of his fears that Scotland has become a haven for drug-running Triad gangs.
Detective Chief Superintendent Stevie Whitelock, head of intelligence at Strathclyde Police, said: "Organised criminals have turned Scotland into a cannabis greenhouse."

Earlier this year the Strathclyde Police launched Operation League aimed to 'weed out cultivation'.

20 November 2007

Home Office Report on UK Drug Trade

The Guardian article includes a link to the Home Office Report as a .pdf file. The study gives estimates of the number of people involved in the trade and is based on interviews with "222 convicted high-level dealers".
In case the article is moved, the report can be downloaded directly here (pdf).
There are other reports that have recently come from the Home Office, according to the Guardian, and ACPO is about to hold its annual drug conference, so the newspapers will have quite a few stories over the next few days.

Previous work on terrorism and organised crime

Tupman's working papers on organised crime are available online at the above URL and two published papers are linked from the SGOC Newsletter issue on terrorism and organised crime

Iraqis joining insurgency less for cause than for cash

Interesting and thoughtful piece from washington Post discussing relationship between Iraqi insurgency recruitment and funding problems and relating them to a number of specific "organised crime" activities. Article warns that the source is flawed and that there is a propaganda element to the account. It does fit with some of Tupman's arguments about the effect of financing problems on terrorism, the need to resort to organised crime and the consequences of resorting to organised crime methods for a violence-using political movement.

23 October 2007

Organized Crime Takes Lead in Italy’s Economy

Organized crime represents the biggest segment of the Italian economy, accounting for more than $127 billion in receipts, according to a report issued Monday, the NYT reports.

19 October 2007

Canada 2007 OC report

The 2007 Annual Report on Organized Crime in Canada (pdf 2.7 MB) aims to provide an overall strategic picture of organized crime in Canada and give an understanding of the numerous ways organized crime impacts the lives of Canadians. This report, the only comprehensive overview of organized crime in Canada available to the public, highlights a variety of criminal markets and the threats they pose to communities across the country.

17 October 2007

Gun control in Japan

The Japanese government adopted legislation Tuesday to toughen punishment for firing or owning guns in connection with organized crime activities, a response to a spate of high-profile shootings by gangsters.

14 October 2007

September Issue of the Newsletter

The September 2007 issue of the Newsletter is available here (pdf). A short overview of the content of this issue:

  • Overview of the Pisa conference and the SGOC panels
  • Abstracts of the papers presented in Pisa
  • Pictures from the Pisa meetings
  • New Executive of the SGOC
  • Overview of the Turin Young Researcher Workshop on crime and counter crime policies in the Balkans
  • Conferences to attend
  • Books to read

    Please do not forget to send us articles, announcements, book reviews and other materials that we can include in the newsletter and share with all SGOC members...
  • 06 August 2007

    Israel:Police arrest ten members of alleged crime organization

    Investigators from the International Crimes Investigation Unit carried out an extensive operation on Sunday morning targeted at Rico Shirazi's alleged crime organization.

    23 July 2007

    Mob Wars Hit New Heights in Israel

    When an explosion goes off on a busy Israeli street these days, it seems as likely to be a mob hit as a Palestinian attack. Rival underworld gangs are waging bloody battles for control of gambling and protection rackets, targeting each other with bullets, bombs and anti-tank missiles.

    05 July 2007

    Turkey: Gang found to be linked to retired army officers

    Nineteen members of the Patriotic Forces Union of Power Movement Association (VKGB), taken into custody on Monday after an extensive operation by the Anti-Organized Crime and Smuggling Department of the Ankara Police, have been referred to court after their interrogation at the police station on Tuesday.

    04 July 2007

    Political Corruption in Poland

    Please have a look at this paper http://www.forschungsstelle-osteuropa.de/con/images/stories/pdf/ap/fsoAP65.pdf
    and tell us something more about this issue in Eastern European Countries

    Political Corruption: an Introduction to the Issues

    Please find an interesting paper on the following link http://www.cmi.no/publications/1999/wp/wp1999-7.pdf

    Emails expose sordid tale of political corruption

    To understand the nature of the Abramoff scandal that rocked Washington in 2006, it is especially helpful to look at the email files that US Senate Indian Affairs Committee have put on the Internet. These emails reveal a sordid, day-by-day account in Abramoff's own words documenting how he maneuvered government officials and others in Washington to transfer millions of dollars in fraudulent fees from his clients into the coffers of the political establishment in Washington.

    Auditors attack EU spending again

    From 2006: European Union auditors have drawn attention to irregularities in EU spending for the 12th year running, in their report on the 2005 budget. The auditors declared the accounts reliable overall, but criticised the spending of funds on the ground, particularly aid for poorer regions.

    Firms accused of bribing Saddam to be investigated by fraud office·

    The Guardian February 14, 2007

    The Serious Fraud Office has launched an investigation into allegations that a number of major UK-based firms paid bribes to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. The firms being targeted include the drug giants GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly. The international oil traders and UK bridge-builders Mabey and Johnson are also to be investigated.
    They are on a long list of international companies accused in a UN report of paying kickbacks under the discredited oil-for-food sanctions regime, which enabled Saddam to illicitly amass an estimated $1.8bn. Ministers have agreed to fund the investigation with £22m over three years.

    Papers and Articles on State Failure

    Beck et al. 2001Beck, Nathaniel; Epstein, David; Jackman, Simon; O'Halloran, Sharyn (2001): Alternative Models of Dynamics in Binary Time-Series-Cross-Section Models: The example of state failure. Paper presented at the 2001 Annual Meeting of the Society for Political Methodology, Emory University, 18-22 July 2001.

    Hesselbein; Golloba-Mutebi; Putzel 2006Hesselbein, Gabi; Golooba-Mutebi, Frederick; Putzel, James (2006): Economic and Political Foundations of State-Making in Africa: Understanding state reconstruction. London: Crisis States Working Paper No. 3, Series No. 2.

    Korteweg; Ehrhardt 2006Korteweg, Rem; Ehrhardt, David (2006): Terrorist Black Holes: A study into terrorist sanctuaries and governmental weakness. Den Haag: Clingendael Centre for Strategic Studies

    World Bank Independent Evaluation Group 2006World Bank Independent Evaluation Group (2006): Engaging with Fragile States: An IEG review of World Bank support to low-income countries under stress. Washington D.C.: The World Bank Group.

    11 June 2007

    Organised crime 'thriving' in Queensland

    The "Mr Bigs" of organised crime in Queensland were thriving untouched because law enforcement agencies could not tap phones, a federal parliamentary committee has been told. Criminal investigators were virtually powerless to stop flourishing criminal networks and were forced to rely on interstate policing bodies for phone surveillance, the committee heard.

    Queensland is the only state in Australia where crime fighting authorities do not have telephone interception or phone tapping powers, despite more than a decade of lobbying from police and the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

    10 June 2007

    Law-Enforcement Disruption of a Drug Importation Network


    This study focuses on the structure and evolution of a drug importation network that operated from Montreal, Canada, and that was the target of an extensive 2-year criminal investigation. The investigation was atypical in that it followed a seize-but-do-not-arrest strategy - while 11 drug shipments were seized by police throughout this period, arrests were never made until the final phase of the investigation. Such a case offers a rare opportunity to study the dynamics of a criminal network under intense surveillance and disruption. The reconstruction of the importation network is based on electronic communication transcripts that were intercepted and compiled during the investigation. Findings from analyses of the principal changes that took place within the communication network reveal how network centralization and critical node status are variable, and not static, properties of a criminal network under considerable constraint. The study demonstrates how a criminal network decentralizes and is re-ordered in response to intense law-enforcement targeting. Contributions are made to research on disruption in criminal networks. We conclude with a discussion on how a criminal network's flexibility, a feature generally presented as a sign of resilience, may contribute to a more significant demise within a context of intensive control.

    Keywords: criminal network; social network analysis; drug trafficking; law-enforcement; critical node

    Carlo Morselli and Katia Petit (2007) Global Crime 8(2): 109-130.

    MI6 probes UK link to nuclear trade with Iran

    A British company has been closed down after being caught in an apparent attempt to sell black-market weapons-grade uranium to Iran and Sudan, The Observer can reveal.[..]During the 20-month investigation, which also involved MI5 and Customs and Excise, a group of Britons was tracked as they obtained weapons-grade uranium from the black market in Russia. Investigators believe it was intended for export to Sudan and on to Iran.[..] British agents believe Russian black-market uranium was destined for Sudan, described as a 'trans-shipment' point. The alleged plot, however, was disrupted in early 2006, before the nuclear material reached its final destination. [..] Alleged evidence of Sudan's role will concern British security services. The East African state has long been suspected of offering a haven for Islamist terrorists and has been accused of harbouring figures including Osama bin Laden who, during the mid-Nineties, set up a number of al-Qaeda training camps in the country.

    08 June 2007

    Violent international crime gang eyes Montreal

    Members of an international gang notorious for its use of extreme violence appear to be interested in setting up shop in Montreal.

    30 May 2007

    Beijing township magistrate stands trial on organized crime charges

    A former magistrate went on trial on Monday in Beijing for allegedly organizing beatings and extortion for illegal gains.

    Fang Guangcheng, 44, former deputy magistrate of Liyuan Town in Tongzhou District of Beijing, and 36 members of the gang allegedly led by Fang, were accused of beating complaining villagers and forcing an owner of a property worth 10 million yuan (1.29 million U.S. dollars) to sell it to Fang for just 2.83 million yuan, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court heard.

    Fang was jailed for five years in 1983 for assault, but a few years after his release, he was appointed secretary of Lilaogong village branch of the Communist Party of China and promoted to deputy magistrate of Liyuan Town in 2001.

    Fang was arrested in December 2005 with other alleged gang members. Police froze 222 banking accounts totaling 14.29 million yuan and more than 20,000 U.S. dollars.

    The trial continues.

    Source: Xinhua 29 May 2007

    25 May 2007

    India: Organised crime is hurting economy

    Organised crime such as money laundering, terrorism and drug-peddling is hurting the economy more than petty thefts, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Thursday, and warned of dire results if it were left unchecked.

    22 May 2007

    Call for Papers: The Politics of Human Trafficking

    In the year of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, the global trade in human beings is back on the policy agenda. This illegal trade is no longer restricted to a singular westward flow across the Atlantic, but now occurs in such diverse regions as South Asia and the Middle East.
    International crime control, migration agencies and the media show great concern over the upward trend in human trafficking based on the new opportunities created by increasing global mobility. But, despite this growing alarm, there remains insufficient serious scholarship addressing human trafficking. There is no consensus as to the precise meaning of the term, as elements of victimhood and agency remain obscure, whilst economic analysis of human trafficking, and its relationship to the international labour market remains hazy at best. Similarly, despite the existence of research on the international abolitionist movement and drug policies, little comparative analysis exists between forms of trafficking.
    For these reasons, the St Antony’s International Review (STAIR) invites academics, young researchers, and policy experts to submit abstracts of papers that explore one or more of the following lines of enquiry for the forthcoming issue on ‘The Politics of Human Trafficking.’
    Abstracts due August 30, 2007 and the papers are due December 30, 2007.

    21 May 2007

    Bibliography on political corruption

    Dear All,
    I would like to invite those of you who are interested in case studies on political corruption to read my working paper on corruption in Albania, published within the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies Working Papers Series.
    You can easily download it in a PDF format here.
    I would be glad to have your comments as well as your general suggestions on this issue.

    19 May 2007

    Organized crime may fuel terror (Dailynews)

    Operating from a Glendale office, Global Human Services shipped everything from milk and salad dressing to medicine and clothing in a humanitarian effort designed to help the needy in Eastern Europe.

    But the organization was also a front, authorities say, for an international fraud and car-theft ring that stashed at least $5million in stolen luxury vehicles into the same shipping containers with the relief supplies.

    The organization was broken up a year ago, with 17 people arrested on suspicion of grand theft and insurance fraud. Authorities said at the time they thought the group had ties to organized crime.

    Now, police say the group also was funneling money to Chechen terrorists - the same group that raided a school in Russia three years ago and killed 331 innocent men, women and children.

    "The concern was they were using some of the proceeds to support terrorist activities elsewhere," Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton said in a recent interview. "We had an organized gang creating crime and havoc here, but some of the proceeds were stirring up revolution elsewhere."

    Growing ties

    Officials interviewed by the Daily News during an 18-month investigation of Eurasian crime syndicates say the case highlights a growing global convergence of organized crime and terrorist groups. And in recent months, concern has grown that crime syndicates are defrauding billions of dollars from U.S. government programs and funneling the money to terrorist groups overseas.
    "We are very concerned where the money goes when it leaves the country," said Robert A. Schoch, special-agent-in-charge of U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement in Southern California. "That's why we look at this as a national security vulnerability.

    "What is the money used for? Could it wind up in the hands of some radical terrorist organization looking to try to find some type of weapon of mass destruction?

    "That's very much a concern of ICE, the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies."

    Sally Thomas, head deputy in the District Attorney's Organized Crime Division, has prosecuted these types of cases since the 1980s.

    "I think everybody has concerns about money that is derived from criminal activities being used to support terrorism," Thomas said. "Our concern is that money would be sent to a terrorist group who would use it to harm people in the United States or elsewhere in the world."

    Recent reports by the state Attorney General's Office said al-Qaida, Hamas and Hezbollah are among the groups seeking to raise money in California.

    "When you find these fraudulent activities that generate a significant amount of money - and they are connected to people who are allegedly involved in terrorist activities - it's kind of like connect the dots," said Marcia Daniel, the deputy district attorney in the Organized Crime Division who is prosecuting the Global Human Services case.

    Two years ago, members of a suspected Russian and Armenian organized crime ring - including six from the San Fernando Valley - were charged with plotting to smuggle $2.5million in black-market weapons into the United States.

    They were nabbed when they tried to sell rocket-propelled grenade launchers and shoulder- fired missiles to an FBI informant posing as an arms trafficker selling weapons to al-Qaida, authorities said. The trial is set to begin June4 in New York City.

    Chechen links

    "The concern in the law enforcement and intelligence community worldwide is that organized crime groups have the ability to operate in a wide range of countries, across borders and conduct transnational operations providing terrorist groups with the reach and ability to penetrate areas they wouldn't be able to otherwise," sheriff's Lt. John Sullivan said at the National Terrorism Early Warning Resource Center.

    "Organized crime provides links to traffic weapons, personnel and materials across borders and could facilitate terrorist operations."

    The case of Global Human Services is typical of the growing links between the two groups, LAPD Detective Mark Severino said.

    After Chechen terrorists raided a Russian school in 2004, former LAPD Deputy Chief John Miller asked detectives to investigate whether any Chechen organized crime members were operating in Los Angeles.

    "An informer had told us the Chechen `godfather' was still here," Severino said. "We started to look at him, and the investigation quickly revealed that there was some possible Medi-Cal fraud. And while looking at that, Global Human Services came to our attention."

    Severino said Ali Karabachev was known as the Chechen "godfather" and had worked for the group.

    "Given the information we had that these Chechens were sending stolen cars overseas and the links of GHS with the Chechen godfather - and on the other end was an associate with Chechen organized crime - the FBI told us there is a fine line between Chechen organized crime and terrorism," Severino said.

    Chechen authorities have since arrested Karabachev on unrelated charges, and the Los Angeles Police Department is seeking to interview him, Severino said.

    Eleven people have pleaded guilty to insurance fraud in the case, and some have been sentenced to probation and ordered to perform community service, Daniel said. Six others pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

    Earlier this year, Yakoob Habib, a 58-year-old tax preparer from Buena Park, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for his role in an international money-laundering operation that involved $28million in unreported income.

    The source of the money included money stolen from Medi-Cal using fraudulent labs that billed for blood work that wasn't done or authorized, officials said.

    The Attorney General's Office identified more than $12million that Habib illegally transferred to the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Russia and Latvia.

    During a search of Habib's business, investigators discovered pictures of anti-aircraft weaponry, the World Trade Center, Los Angeles International Airport and Department of Motor Vehicles logos, Deputy Attorney General Hardy Gold said.

    "He had also downloaded a Web site with offensive anti-American banter on it," Gold said.

    "Did we trace any funds to the hands of terrorists? No. ... On the other hand, he was a very effective money launderer who was able to erase the money trail. And the money transfer network he operated was for the benefit of organized crime."

    Terrorism experts say such connections are particularly worrisome because of some countries' lax security for highly enriched uranium and other potentially dangerous materials.

    Melinda Redman, senior director of intelligence and analysis at the Virginia-based Terrorism Research Center, said government officials are concerned about organized crime groups selling highly enriched uranium, plutonium or even nuclear devices to terrorists.

    Former Russian Security Council Secretary Alexander Lebed claimed a decade ago that as many as 100 small nuclear devices had disappeared from Russian stockpiles. Officials have denied the claims, but experts still are worried.

    "We have no idea what happened to (the nuclear devices)," said Michael Intriligator, a terrorism expert and professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. "And it's something that could be smuggled as easily as a bail of marijuana across the Mexican border. And Los Angeles is a prime target."

    Nuclear concerns

    In a recent report, the International Atomic Energy Agency noted 540 confirmed cases of illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials from the early 1990s to 2004.

    "It's very real and a very great concern," said Graham Allison, founding dean of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. "The U.S. and Russia have a cooperative program to recover highly enriched uranium.

    "That's good. But the pace at which it's happening is still way too slow. And the notion that any material which people could use to make a nuclear bomb is not locked up to the highest level of security is nuts."

    Cristina-Astrid Hansell Cheun, a senior research associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, said organized crime groups in Russia have been involved in the theft of highly enriched uranium and other nuclear materials in the past.

    "It's frightening if the terrorist groups get connected with the organized crime groups that have these materials," she said.

    In a recent report on nuclear smuggling by the Center for Strategic & International Studies, authors wrote of an increasing threat that terrorist groups aided by organized crime in Russia and Central Asia will steal nuclear materials.

    "Clearly, the capacity for criminal groups and terrorists to work together is growing," wrote American University professors Robert Orttung and Louise Shelley.

    "As the threat of nuclear smuggling increases and Russia's ability to deal with the problem decreases, Russia and the United States need to work together to develop a serious analysis."

    Next month, officials from around the world are scheduled to meet in Florida to develop strategies to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism.

    Schoch said ICE has investigated numerous reports in recent years regarding terrorists, gangs and others attempting to smuggle nuclear weapons and other dangerous materials into the United States.

    "We take it very seriously, but typically when we look into them we are not able to corroborate any type of real connection," Schoch said.

    "But regardless, if you look at some of these gangs and some of the things they are venturing into, like human trafficking and narcotics, all of those are vulnerabilities."

    SOCA Annual Report 2006/7

    This document reports on the exercise of SOCA’s functions during 2006/07, against the plans published in SOCA’s Annual Plan 2006/07. It does not include audited annual accounts, which are subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General and will be published later in the year. All financial information contained in this report is un-audited. It also does not report on the work of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), which is affiliated to SOCA, but which is publishing its own Annual Report.

    Cocaine and Mr Bigs - crime agency lists first year successes

    Britain's equivalent of the FBI has identified 160 underworld "Mr Bigs", seized 73 tonnes of cocaine, and intercepted a shipment of rocket-propelled grenade launchers thought to be destined for Islamist terrorists since its establishment a year ago, the agency said yesterday.

    17 May 2007

    Crime, Violence, and Development: Trends, Costs, and Policy Options in the Caribbean

    High rates of crime and violence in the Caribbean are undermining growth, threatening human welfare, and impeding social development, according to a new report (pdf 1.7 Mb) published last week by the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

    Political Corruption: a general outline

    ECPR Standing Group on Organised Crime Blog
    Research line on Political Corruption

    Only in the last few years has corruption been analysed as a political phenomenon. Mostly newspapers and the media deal with scandals and bribery stories. The common definition of corruption deals with the use of public resources to gain private benefits; it is, however, a more complex issue which originates from several contexts and frameworks, implies numerous tools and indices, causes multidimensional consequences. Placed on a vertical line, it could start from a basic acceptance of bribery by a civil servant for obtaining a better and more rapid service (petty corruption), going through the subtraction of State money and the transformation of the institutions into personal feuds, by involving key State sectors (medium scale corruption), escalating into a larger connections which engage directly the most important State representatives (grand corruption). It is true that the diversity of actors and interests, which are involved, necessarily produce a wide range of consequences and effects; nevertheless, the main outcome remains the withdrawal of the public authority in front of illegal behaviour. This phenomenon seems to affect every country in the international system, even the more developed and efficient democracies. It reaches, however, its highest level/form in countries undergoing transition and/or in those countries in which weak institutions and immature political elites are not able to plan adequate policies. This leads to the development of what Ethan Nadelmann defines as “institutionalized corruption” (Nadelmann, 1993) and which affects such contexts like the Balkans. The Corruption Index, made every year by Transparency International, aims to measure the level of corrupt practices and behaviours, following some rigid indices, like the amount of bribes as well as the number of prosecutions.
    At the same time, the increasing interest in corruption is also due to the rising use organised crime groups are making of it. In 1996, UN Commission on Crime Prevention stated:
    Organized criminal groups have demonstrated their preference towards ‘systemic’ corruption designed to ensure the preservation of a congenial and low-risk home base or a comfortable environment in the host countries. Such a method of operation may be characterized by widespread use of bribery and favours to ensure the malleability of key positions and agencies; political funding to ensure that politicians elected to office will be indebted to the criminal organizations; carefully targeted ‘payoffs’ to law enforcement personnel to provide intelligence; and the provision of financial incentives to members of the judiciary to ensure that the penalties for criminal activities are either not imposed or are modest. These links between the underworld and the ‘upper world’ have a corrosive effect on governance [1].
    Corruption – mostly on a political and institutional level – is the required condition to successfully manage illegal traffics and to avoid official controls. Thus, it is becoming a broader dimension which any organised crime group should take into account.
    This research line had been launched with the hope of increasing academic interest in this issue and, at the same time, to push scholars and practitioners to reflect more on its global effects.
    It aims to collect as much bibliographical resources as possible, as well as short articles and papers dealing theoretical framework and/or case studies.
    Our suggestion is to continue to implement research on well-known areas, like the Balkans but also to focus on some “unexplored” ones, like Central Asia or Caucasus.
    It is clear that no restriction is scheduled and that every comment and intervention will be considered useful to the general discussion and to help develop an innovative analysis on the issue.
    [1] Report no. E/CN.15/1996/2 april 4th, 1996, Commission on crime prevention and criminal justice in Review of priority themes, Implementation of the Naples political declaration and global action plan against organized transnational crime, par. F, ‘Linkages between the licit and the illicit and the problem of corruption’, p. 8.

    South Korea: Organized Crime Mushrooms

    The number of organized gangs has grown 18 percent from five years ago, according to data obtained by a lawmaker Wednesday. There are now 222 criminal gangs with 5,269 members.

    16 May 2007

    Canada: Police launch organized crime website

    Police across Canada took to cyberspace this week to highlight the extent of organized crime across the country and launched the website www.organizedcrime.ca.

    14 May 2007

    May Issue of the SGOC newsletter

    The May 2007 issue of the Newsletter is available here (pdf). A short overview of the content of this issue:

  • Information on the Pisa conference (registration, accommodation) and the preliminary program of the ECPR SGOC section at the conference;
  • Establishment of research lines on OC in the blog;
  • Emerging Cocaine Routes in the Balkans;
  • Some UN statistics on cocaine trafficking and consumption;
  • Expansion of the West-Africa route in Algeria ;
  • Books to review for Global Crime;
  • Cocaine trafficking in Southern Italy - The 'Ndrangheta and the SCU and the transnational threat of cocaine trafficking, supply and consumption.

    We welcome comments and of course also contributions for any next issue.
  • 12 May 2007

    Australian biker gangs wage violent turf war

    Biker gang violence is escalating in Australia with groups such as the Nomads, Rebels, Commancheros and Bandidos waging violent turf wars involving drive-by shootings and firebombings, say police.

    11 May 2007

    Organized crime fuels illegal ivory surge in Africa

    Asian-run organized crime syndicates based in Africa are being implicated in the increase in illegal trade in elephant ivory, according to a new study by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network of WWF and IUCN-The World Conservation Union. Download the report here.

    10 May 2007

    Good cops, bad mobs? EU policies to fight trans-national organised crime in the Western Balkans

    When European Union leaders declared in June 1999 that the countries of the Western Balkans were all "potential" EU members, it seemed that the long road to future accession would soon be open to them. But the region is still plagued by the legacy of the past, including trans-national organised crime. This Issue Paper (pdf) from 2005 by Lucia Montanaro-Jankovski examines all the different facets of this problem, assesses the EU's response, and advocates a more comprehensive and coherent approach. Only this, it is argued, will enable the Union to tackle criminal networks at home and abroad effectively, while also improving the Western Balkan countries' 'image' – and, therefore, their chances of joining the EU in the future.

    05 May 2007

    Mafias sabotage Stockholm economy

    A new report has concluded that organized crime is putting the brakes on growth in the Stockholm region.
    The report was commissioned by Marie Eriksson, who manages a gender equality project at Stockholm's county administrative board. Its findings are the result of a collaborative effort between police in Stockholm and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency's (SIDA) Baltic unit. "Organized crime can distort competition and have a negative bearing on the business climate and investment opportunities," said Ericsson in a statement.

    02 May 2007

    The Convergence of Crime and Terror: Law Enforcement Opportunities and Perils

    The growing post-Cold War terrorist involvement in criminal enterprises has provided more opportunity for the government to prosecute suspected terrorists. From a law enforcement perspective, it is critical to minimize the advantage that terrorists gain from involvement in criminal activity and maximize the opportunity to prosecute them for the full range of illegal activities in which they engage. With this paradigm in mind, this paper explores five areas of criminal enterprise where there has been known terrorist involvement: drug trafficking, financial scams, cyber-crime, illegal money transfers, and immigration violations.

    The Threat Posed by the Convergence of Organized Crime, Drugs Trafficking and Terrorism.

    Written Testimony of Ralf Mutschke Assistant Director, Criminal Intelligence Directorate International Criminal Police Organization - Interpol General Secretariat before a hearing of the US Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime in 2000.

    Structural links between political terrorism and traditional criminal activity, such as drugs trafficking, armed robbery or extortion have come increasingly to the attention of law enforcement authorities, security agencies and political decision makers. There is a fairly accepted view in the international community that in recent years, direct state sponsorship has declined, therefore terrorists increasingly have to resort to other means of financing, including criminal activities, in order to raise funds. These activities have traditionally been drug trafficking, extortion/collection of "revolutionary taxes", armed robbery, and kidnappings. The involvement of such groups as the PKK, LTTE, and GIA in these activities has been established.

    Annual Report on Organised Crime in Greece for the Year 2004

    The socio-economic and political changes that took place mainly in the countries of Eastern Europe and the Balkans favoured, inter alia, the development of criminal action undertaken by criminal Organisations (Greek and foreign) in Greece. The continuous political and economic instability in the above mentioned countries with the sequential development of illegal markets in conjunction with the greatest commercial and other mobility across the borders and the use of new technologies
    (especially the communication) had as a result the internationalisation of the organised crime and the extension of action by the criminal organisations in all Balkan Countries.

    The above situation should be recorded and studied systematically, so that to develop the more appropriate tools in order to deal with it. In order to better understand every field of criminal activity, it is necessary to have a thorough examination of the phenomenon and criminal organisations so as to make sure that analysis reflects, as far as possible, its real dimensions.
    This report attempts basically to register the phenomenon by focusing on crimes and criminal groups that cause the most serious problems, as they have been identified at European level and specified at National level. It follows the organised crime
    analysis directives, agreed upon by the EU Member States, as the expert analysts of the M-S have recently amended them.

    The Links Between Organized Crime and Terrorism in Eurasian Nuclear Smuggling

    At a 2005 Kennan Institute talk, Louise Shelley, Director, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, American University, and former Title VIII-Supported Research Scholar, Kennan Institute; and Robert Orttung, Associate Research Professor, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, American University, and former Title VIII-Supported Short-Term Scholar, Kennan Institute, argued that there is a fatal flaw in most U.S. programs designed to safeguard nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union. Such programs, according to Shelley, focus exclusively on the technical aspects—such as locks and security systems—of safeguarding nuclear materials. Although these technical safeguards are important, Shelley contended that we need to pay more attention to the complex criminal and terrorist networks that have the desire and ability to gain access to nuclear materials. You can also watch the video of this event.

    29 April 2007

    Canada: How illegal bars are fuelling organized crime in the Lower Mainland

    Across the Lower Mainland, police are concerned about a proliferation of after-hours clubs frequented by gangsters, bikers and others -- lucrative, clandestine operations that in many cases are helping fuel organized crime.

    28 April 2007

    Europol Annual Report

    According to the 2006 Europol Annual report organised crime groups in 2006 continued to increase their level of specialisation as well as the use that they make of legitimate business structures. Their internal structure allows them to expand their fields of activity across crime types and international borders. As expected, globalisation is heavily influencing the way organised crime groups communicate and cooperate among themselves. They employ the latest communication technologies to maintain and expand their national and international links. The report is available here.

    Organised crime is fast becoming a leading player in the global tobacco industry

    Organised crime is fast becoming a leading player in the global tobacco industry, costing companies and governments billions of pounds in lost profits and taxes, according to British American Tobacco.

    Canada: Stowaway ship tip may have been organized crime ploy

    The Mounties are checking to see if organized crime planted false information to prompt a massive search for stowaways on a container ship that came to Halifax this month.

    27 April 2007

    IP crime Directive approved

    A controversial Directive which criminalises intellectual property violations in Europe was approved yesterday by the European Parliament but does not include its most controversial element, the criminalising of patent infringement.

    Supporters of the Directive say it is aimed at organised crime, but opponents claim that it could criminalise legitimate activities. The proposed directive is also controversial because if passed it would become the first directive to impose criminal penalties across Europe.

    25 April 2007

    New smuggling tactic: swallowing money

    The Royal Marechaussee on Schiphol airport last week arrested a woman who had instead of the usual drugs had swallowed money in secure packages. In total the 57-year old woman had swallowed 43 packages containg 258 bills worth 500 euro each, totalling 129.000 euro. The woman was trying to smuggle the money on a flight to Madrid.

    24 April 2007

    UNODC:Countries ignorant about threats posed by transnational crime

    Law enforcement authorities around the world “operate in an information fog” about transnational organized crime, ignorant of the scope of the threats faced and unable to gauge global trends, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warned today, calling on UN Member States to develop a coherent blueprint to deal with the problem.

    23 April 2007

    Global Organised Crime. A lecture.

    A lecture by former BBC journalist Misha Glenny on how globalisation and the collapse of communism are jointly responsible for the exponential growth in the global shadow economy since the mid-1980s.

    Organised crime wave grips Guatemala

    In 1996, when Guatemala emerged from a bloody civil war lasting more than 30 years, people thought that the peace accords between government and leftwing rebels would bring an end to the violence. A little more than a decade later, spiralling drugs­related crime has proved them wrong. According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 6,033 people were murdered last year – 13 per cent more than in 2005 and higher even than during the conflict.
    The Financial Times reports.

    Interesting in this regard is also an UN report El costo económico de la violencia en Guatemala(pdf) with background information.

    Australia: new Criminal Assets Confiscation Act allows police to seize more assets

    Police figures provided to the Sunday Mail reveal that, since the new Criminal Assets Confiscation Act came into force in April last year, restraining orders have been placed over criminal assets valued at $17,732,167.

    22 April 2007

    Chinese crime cartels threaten S. Africa

    The rise in organized crime with links to larger crime syndicates in Hong Kong and Shanghai has led the South African government to increase surveillance of Chinese nationals.

    Asian transnational organized crime and its impact on the United States

    A report (pdf) written by James O. Finckenaur and Ko-lin Chin, published January 2007 by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice. Based on research undertaken between July 2003 and August 2004.

    21 April 2007

    Motorists hit by card clone scam

    Thousands of motorists who use a bank card to buy petrol are thought to have lost millions of pounds in an international criminal operation. It is believed cards are being skimmed at petrol stations, where the card details and pin numbers are retrieved and money withdrawn from the account. About 200 of the UK's 9,500 petrol stations are thought to have been hit.

    The Sri Lankan government claims the rebel Tamil Tigers are to blame but according to the BBC police say there is no definite link. The Hull Daily Mail however quoted a detective saying his seven-strong team was investigating possible links with the Tamil Tigers.

    Recently in Norway customs officers detected a credit card scam run by the Tamil Tigers.

    19 April 2007

    Organized Crime in Darfur

    According to the Interim report of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) concerning the Sudan (5.4 Mb! Word doc) organized crime and acts of banditry have now become a source of livelihood for the many groups operating in Darfur and in other neighbouring States. Information received by the Panel indicates that some organized armed groups in Darfur levy taxes or payments on merchants operating between the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Sudan. The payments are made to these groups as protection money. Failure to pay these amounts to loss of their goods and transporting vehicles.

    Interpol-UNODC Global Congress to address International Financial Crime issues

    Money laundering, terrorism financing and corruption are among the key issues scheduled for discussion at the Global Financial Crime Congress jointly organized by Interpol and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

    The three-day Congress aims to identify and assess the latest developments, technologies and strategies which are working in combating financial crime, in addition to finding new solutions and opportunities to enhance co-operation between and among law enforcement and the private sector. Ronald K. Noble, Interpol's Secretary General held the opening speech.

    Japan: Mayor of Nagasaki slain by an organized crime figure

    TOKYO -- The mayor of the Japanese city of Nagasaki was shot to death by an organized crime chief apparently enraged that the city refused to compensate him after his car was damaged at a public works construction site, police said.
    The shooting was rare in a country where handguns are strictly banned and only five politicians are known to have been killed since World War II. Tetsuya Shiroo, a senior member of Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan's largest organized crime syndicate, was wrestled to the ground by officers after the attack and arrested.

    17 April 2007

    Methods and Motives: Exploring Links between Transnational Organized Crime & International Terrorism

    The nexus with transnational organized crime is increasingly a focus for security planners in their analyses of terror groups. Their approach is best described by the phrase “methods, not motives.” While the mo- tives of terrorists and organized criminals remain divergent most often, our research indicates this is not always the case. For that reason, this report argues that such a general approach has become too restrictive and can be misleading since the interaction between terrorism and organized crime is growing deeper and more complex all the time. In short, the lines of separation are no longer unequivocal.

    The report analyzes the relationship between international organized crime and terrorism in a systematic way in order to highlight the shortcomings of the “methods, not motives” argument. In so doing, the re- port considers the factors that most closely correspond to crime-terror interaction and identifies those regions of developed and developing states most likely to foster such interactions. Likewise, the paper will suggest an evolutionary spectrum of crime-terror interactions that serves as a common basis for discussion of such often-used terms as “nexus.”

    The report is the product of a recently concluded and peer-reviewed 18-month NIJ-sponsored research project, and includes empirical evidence drawn from numerous case studies developed in the course of the research program.

    14 April 2007

    India: Fight against organised crime on

    The tit-for-tat violence involving Kazhakuttom-based gangs had claimed at least three lives in the past one-year. Several others were injured in revenge attacks carried out by hit squads wielding swords and country-made bombs. The inter-gang violence that spiralled out of control had triggered a sense of insecurity among residents and traders. However, the Thiruvananthapuram city police are viewing the arrest of `Karate' Suresh on Wednesday as a step forward in the fight against organised crime.

    Australia: Crime groups aim for finance sector

    Organised crime networks could infiltrate the mainstream financial sector to run money-laundering schemes from inside legitimate financial institutions, Australia's federal anti-money laundering agency is warning.

    UK: Crime agency chief values partnership in money-laundering fight

    A growing partnership between the private sector and the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca) is helping to improve the efficiency of the government's money-laundering controls, Sir Stephen Lander, the agency's chairman, has said.

    09 April 2007

    US: Coordination of information against organised shoplifters

    As organized shoplifting costs the industry an estimated $30 billion a year and the involved crime rings are becoming more sophisticated, the FBI and retailers have joined together to support the Law Enforcement Retail Partnership Network, or LERPnet.

    04 April 2007

    Drug trafficking through Azerbaijan

    An Azeri news site reported an interesting drug trafficking route: Iran - Azerbaijan - Russia - Japan. Pity the whole route is not more accurately described.

    The Real "Sopranos": New York's Five Families

    When the writers of “The Sopranos” needed inspiration, all they had to do was look to New York’s Cosa Nostra – the Five Families. From Charles “Lucky” Luciano, father of modern organized crime, to Junior Gotti who’s trying to shake off his notorious mob ties, here’s a snapshot of the Families – and the faces – that matter.

    03 April 2007

    Organized crime trial moved after small explosions damage Amsterdam court building

    AMSTERDAM, Netherlands: The extortion trial of an alleged Amsterdam underworld figure was moved to a new venue Monday after explosions damaged the top-security court building where the case had been due to start. Security shutters were damaged and windows smashed in the explosions at 3 a.m. (0200 GMT) but there were no injuries, according to a police statement.

    "Everything is being done to ensure today's case can go ahead," the statement said. The cause of the explosions was being investigated but there were no immediate arrests. Justice officials said later that the case would be moved — for Monday at least — to a court room at another building in Amsterdam. By early afternoon, the case still had not started. The decision was based on "security concerns," said court spokeswoman Jacqueline Dubois.

    Willem Holleeder — previously convicted in the 1983 kidnapping of beer tycoon Freddy Heineken — is accused of extorting money from four businessmen in Amsterdam. He denies the charges.

    "What has happened is annoying for him, because he just wants to get on with his case," Holleeder's attorney, Jan-Hein Kuijpers told the national broadcaster's Radio 1. "Nobody wants this kind of thing. I don't know in whose interest it is to damage the building."

    The court room hit by Monday's explosions was built on an industrial zone in eastern Amsterdam in the late 1990s and has hosted several high-profile organized-crime and terror trials, including that of the Islamic extremist who murdered filmmaker Theo van Gogh.

    The Associated Press
    Published: April 2, 2007

    24 March 2007

    Japan: Yakuza Gangs Prospering Despite Law

    Yakuza gangs are as active as ever despite a law passed 15 years ago to crack down on organized crime. The number of gangsters, which ostensibly dropped somewhat after the anti-organized crime law took effect in 1992, has hardly changed, say sources close to both police and gangster groups. And gang-related crimes continue. Gangs are teaming up with foreign criminal elements to run theft rings and drug deals. They are even gunning down rival gang members in turf wars — as happened in broad daylight in central Tokyo in February.

    Police seem powerless. According to police estimates, Japan has 21 recognized organized crime syndicates, with roughly 85,000 full-fledged and loosely affiliated members nationwide. The largest is the Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi, with about 39,700. Its membership has doubled in the past two decades. Yamaguchi-gumi is three times larger than its Tokyo-based rival, Sumiyoshi-kai, and four times bigger than Inagawa-kai, also in Tokyo. These groups are organized in hierarchical structures.

    After the law was enacted, police cracked down in the Kansai region, Yamaguchi-gumi’s home base, and the gang broke with a long tradition of sticking to Kansai turf and extended its tentacles into Tokyo. “There is much more money to be made in real estate and other transactions in Tokyo,” according to a senior Yamaguchi-gumi member who moved to Tokyo several years ago. “Fierce competition within the syndicate has triggered new ways of making money, and this is the way we expand.”

    Today, Yamaguchi-gumi has more than 3,000 members and affiliated members in Tokyo, twice as many as it had five years ago, according to police estimates.

    From 2005 to 2006, the syndicate also formed tie-ups with eight independent gangster groups in Kyoto, Hiroshima and elsewhere. The smaller groups were apparently looking for protection from the bigger organization. In September 2005, the Yamaguchi-gumi absorbed the Kokusui-kai, which along with the Sumiyoshi-kai and Inagawa-kai groups, had long fought to keep Yamaguchi-gumi out of the capital. One insider, who had predicted Yamaguchi-gumi advances into Tokyo would trigger a gang war, said his fears came true 18 months later. On Feb. 5, a senior affiliated Sumiyoshi-kai gangster was gunned down, apparently by a Kokusui-kai member.

    Police sources say one unintended effect of the anti-organized crime law is that gangs are now smaller only “on paper.” In effect, the yakuza gangs have downsized their organizations by having members leave to support gang activities from outside the group.

    Police define a “syndicate” as a group with a certain percentage of mobsters with criminal records, and keep close tabs on them. Now police are having a harder time tracing murky connections to decide which gangs to pin the crimes on. At the end of last year, police estimates showed about 41,500 “official” gang members nationwide, with an additional 43,200 loosely affiliated members. That’s not much less than the total 96,000 in 1992 when the anti-crime law took effect.

    If a full-fledged gang member is caught for a crime, the gang’s top leader can be held responsible.

    Nichi Bei Times Weekly March 22, 2007

    18 March 2007

    Canada: Number of criminal groups growing

    The number of organized crime groups in B.C. grew for the third year in a row in 2006 -- to 124, up from 108 identified the previous year, says a 2006 RCMP report obtained by The Vancouver Sun.

    The 2006 Integrated Threat Assessment on Organized Crime says that police successfully disbanded 19 of the groups operating in 2005, but another 35 organized crime groups started up. "The increase was also manifested in the number of mid-to-low-level criminal organizations identified, the growth in which accounted for nearly all the annual change overall," the report says.

    The graph in the report looks alarming, starting in 2003 with just 52 groups and rising in each of the last three years. But the report also says better record-keeping and analysis of crime groups accounts for some of the increase. In terms of successes, five crime groups were disrupted last year through "successful enforcement." Ten groups disbanded or disappeared from police radar and are no longer considered a criminal threat. The rest were rolled into larger crime groups, the report says. "An additional ten groups saw a decline in assessed threat due to enforcement actions against the group or its associates," the report says. "Thus law enforcement actions yielded positive results in terms of disruption against 15 of 108 organized crime groups -- that is 14 per cent -- over the past year."

    And as last year, independent crime groups and outlaw motorcycle gangs -- particularly the Hells Angels -- are at the top of the pack in terms of sophistication and criminal involvement. "The remaining profile of organized crime in the province is comprised of Asian-based organized crime, Indo-Canadian organized crime, Eastern European and various other smaller categories."
    Most of the new groups formed were trying to cash in on the lucrative drug trade, particularly marijuana and crystal meth.
    "In light of the continuing trend in synthetic drug production and trafficking and as regards to the well-known situation regarding marijuana cultivation, it is not surprising that the typical core activity of the independent and OMG-associated criminal organizations newly added in 2006 is that of drug-trafficking and drug production, with most of these groups scoring in the middle range of known criminal organizations in the province," the report says.

    Whole sections of the 400-plus page document were blanked out for security reasons. Of the so-called independent groups, a number of them work in concert with biker gangs, the report says, while others are "truly independent." The researchers noted that pot cultivation appears to have plateaued, "remaining comfortably the biggest single criminal revenue generator in B.C./Yukon and a sizeable industry in the region in its own right. Reported grow operations are levelling off, but the average number of plants is consistently increasing," the report says. "Methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs continue to expand as an enforcement challenge and a social problem."

    Vancouver Sun 17 March 2007

    Canadian drug traffickers go global

    Canadian police do say that drug traffickers are going global in their desire to reap bigger profits from precursor chemicals used for deadly synthetic drugs like crystal meth and ecstasy. Criminals in countries like India and Canada are the new powerbrokers as they can get their hands on large quantities of chemicals that can then be exported -- legally in some cases -- to Canada.

    16 March 2007

    Turkey: Weapons smuggling concentrated at Syria border

    During operations of the Security General Directorate's Anti-Smuggling and Organized Crime Department (KOM) over the last seven years, over 5,600 pistols, including 754 Glock guns and 326 long-barrel rifles and 613 shotguns, were seized, according to official figures.

    Weapons of foreign origin captured as a result of operational activities and investigations by the Security General Directorate reportedly entered the country via the customs gates, where barriers are insufficient due to the mountainous terrain along the Iraqi and Syrian borders and a busy border trade.

    The weapons are brought to Turkey by smugglers who live along the borders and make a living through smuggling. These weapons are transported via trucks or other vehicles which carry loads from northern Iraq to Turkey through the border gates.

    Among the weapons seized by the KOM teams over the last seven years are 754 Austrian-made Glocks, popularly known as "ghost guns." Mustafa Yucel Ozbilgin, a Council of State judge in Ankara, said that during the last two years, there was a spike in seizures of Glock guns, a weapon also used also in the 2006 murder of Father Andrea Santoro in Trabzon. "Last year, 316 Glocks were captured in the police's responsibility area, compared with 350 in 2005, 87 in 2004 and one in 2002," he said. No Glocks were reported in 2000, 2001 and 2003, according to security statistics.

    Speaking to the Anatolia news agency about the Glocks, a security official said: "The claim that the Glocks aren't detected by X-ray scanners is an unfounded rumor started by arms dealers." Telling how the Glocks' mixture of polymer-carbon was designed by an Austrian, the official added, "This got the attention of the security forces, since these weapons are functional in all kinds of weather." Emphasizing that Glocks are the world's first plastic alloy weapons and weigh about 650 grams, the official said: "Out of this weight, almost 500 grams are steel barrel and other components."

    The official stressed that the technology used in the Glocks is also now used in many weapons, he added: "In addition to renowned international weapons makers, the domestic armament industry produces polymer-waist weapons. Glocks are preferred since they are light, easily repaired and resistant to bad weather, and are available in many models in various calibers other than 7.65. Especially the Glock-18 model can be made full automatic by modifying it."

    The New Anatolian
    15 March 2007

    08 March 2007

    4th International Financial Crime Congress

    The Global Financial Crime Congress jointly organized by Interpol and UNODC takes place from 17- 20 April 2007 at the UNODC facility located in Bangkok, Thailand. This event is designed to focus on the latest developments in the area of financial crime including money laundering and terrorism financing that is likely to impact on financial crime investigations over the next few years. Interested parties can contact Interpol.

    07 March 2007

    Fighting Organised Crime in Israel

    Combating Organised Crime in Israel is taken a step further towards a multi-agency approach as the police, Justice Ministry and Tax Authority unveiled a joint intelligence unit at National Police Headquarters to fight organized crime. The center, which will enable the three bodies to pool intelligence, is meant to overcome the difficulties in intelligence collaboration caused by existing legislation. The attempts of investigators from one of these bodies to obtain intelligence from the others have caused long delays that hindered their work. Now for the first time, representatives of the Tax Authority, Money Laundering Prohibition Authority and police will work together under the same roof, pooling resources to fight organized crime.

    Meanwhile efforts to combat Organised Crime were hampered by corruption from inside the police ranks.

    Canada in the grip of Organised Piracy?

    As recent media coverage pictures Canada in the grip of Organised Crime involved in IP crime further scrutiny learns that both the claims of the level of piracy in Canada as well as the involvement of Organised Crime are highly exaggerated.

    According to a previously secret RCMP report obtained under the Access to Information Act, the reality is that counterfeiting, though a concern, may not be as significant a problem. The report called into question claims that organized crime lies behind all Canadian counterfeiting, instead noting that their involvement varies throughout the country. For example, it concluded that in the northwest, "only a few cases could be classified as organized crime; for the most part, IP crime there involves people who are `trying to make a dollar.'"

    "We're playing whack-a-mole all the time with organized crime."

    Winnipeg's police chief is warning politicians about organized crime in the city as the local Hells Angels chapter reorganizes its ranks. Jack Ewatski told councillors on the city's protection committee that organized crime gangs have no problems filling their ranks because drug trafficking is lucrative.

    "It's like when you go to the Red River Ex and you play that whack-a-mole game. You know, you hit one over the head, another one pops up somewhere else. I can't be more blunt than that," Ewatski told the committee, which overseas the police department's budget. "We're playing whack-a-mole all the time with organized crime." Outside the meeting, Ewatski called the fight against organized crime a continuing battle his officers face. "Once we create a gap, it's filled," he said.

    Lorne Schinkel, president of the Winnipeg officer's union, agreed. "I applaud the chief for finally saying we're playing whack-a-mole with organized crime. The city council needs to know what the hell is going on with crime in our city," said Schinkel.

    With the arrests of three local Hells Angels and three Bandidos in the past year, organized crime groups in Winnipeg have suffered some blows in the past year or so. Outside yesterday's meeting, Ewatski said it would be "naive" to think these gangs have been shut down.

    While the ex-president of the local Hells Angels chapter, Ernie Dew, is jailed awaiting trial on cocaine trafficking charges, the biker club has a new leader. Sources say the new top boss, Dale Donovan, took over the club earlier this winter. Dew was arrested during Project Defence, an undercover sting that tackled cocaine trafficking in Winnipeg, culminating with the arrests of 13 people in February 2006.

    Later that year, police arrested three alleged members of the local Bandidos chapter in connection with the Ontario killings of eight bikers and their associates. Among those arrested was Michael Sandham, an ex-cop turned local Bandidos chapter president.

    Winnipeg Sun March 6, 2007

    06 March 2007

    Scotland: Vietnam gangs behind cannabis farm boom

    Vietnamese organised crime is behind a sudden explosion of cannabis cultivation in Scotland in the past year, with more than 40 factories producing £5 million of the drug in the past nine months.

    Graeme Pearson, head of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), will today tell a drugs conference that cannabis cultivation in Scotland has gone from a "homespun cottage industry" to mass production lines overseen by Far Eastern "Mr Bigs". A network of Vietnamese gangs, responsible for mass cannabis production in North America and the south of England, is understood to have recruited members of the Chinese community in Scotland to set up dozens of factories across the country in recent months.

    A big rise in cannabis cultivation in parts of England has already been witnessed in recent months, with the proceeds reinvested in other aspects of organised crime, including heroin, cocaine and firearms. Last week police disclosed the results of Operation League, a major cannabis-production crackdown, mainly in the west of Scotland, which has seen about 20 factories shut down. Police made several arrests during the operation, including Vietnamese and Chinese nationals, along with Scots.

    But Mr Pearson will today tell a Scottish police conference on cannabis that the scale of the production is even higher. He told The Scotsman: "In the past year, cultivation in Scotland has gone from a baseline of almost nothing to a very substantial quantity. "More than 44 cultivations with a crop worth more than £5 million have been uncovered in the past six months. "It's gone from a homespun industry to a major production-line approach and is now big business. He said organised crime gangs had set up production "very quickly" in Scotland in the past year. "There is a Vietnamese and Chinese backdrop to many of these developments," he said.

    Scots police were alerted to the problem by law-enforcement authorities in Canada, where Vietnamese and other Far Eastern gangs have seized almost total control of the cannabis market over the past five years. The criminals also moved into class A drugs and violent gang wars ensued. Cannabis production subsequently spread to mainland Europe and has now reached Scotland. Supplies of the Class C drug in the UK have traditionally come from countries such as Afghanistan, Lebanon, Morocco and the Americas, but it is thought that around 60 per cent is now home-grown - compared with 10 per cent a decade ago.

    Ian Latimer, chief constable of Northern Constabulary and president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, which has organised the two-day conference at Turnberry, said: "This new development emphasises the need for individual police forces to work closely with the SCDEA. "The significant number of arrests in the last nine months could not have been made without that partnership."

    The Scotsman, 2 March 2007

    01 March 2007

    2nd Humsec Conference and Call for Papers

    The second conference of the HUMSEC project focuses on the multiple interactions among transnational illegal organizations, state institutions, and the civil society in the Balkan region, and how these influence post-conflict capacity building. Contributions by regional experts, comparativists and theory-oriented social scientists, as well as governmental and non-governmental practitioners are particularly welcome.

    The HUMSEC project, invites suggestions for presentations at this conference to be held in Sarajevo, 4-6 October 2007. The working language of the conference will be English and all presentations/papers will be in English.

    Titles of proposed papers, plus abstracts of approximately 350 words are invited no later than 31 March 2007.

    Please see further information on the Humsec website.

    21 February 2007

    Conference: The Stockholm Criminoloy Symposium, June 4th-6th 2007

    This year's Stockholm Criminoloy Symposium includes sessions on Organized and economic crime. A Call for Papers is open, all abstracts must be submitted before May 4th 2007, which is the deadline for thematic panels or regular panel presentations.

    18 February 2007

    Japan: Gangsters muscle in on part-time practices

    The popular image of Japanese gangsters - tattoos and missing fingers - is pretty hackneyed. But when it comes to business practice, yakuza gangs are positive trendsetters.

    Figures released by the police this week show that Japan's mobsters, whose members patrol the country's ubiquitous red-light districts, have a far more flexible labour force than conventional businesses. For the first time since records began in 1958 - Japanese statisticians keep records of almost everything - the number of yakuza part-timers, at 43,200, has outstripped regular employees of 41,500.

    Gangs have also become more efficient. In spite of a steady advance in revenue, which has mirrored the economy's return to modest health since 2002, they have cut their workforce. Last year it fell by 1,600. "These guys are the best entrepreneurs in the country, certainly the most responsive to change in business conditions," says a lawyer who deals with underworld issues.

    Estimates of the size of crime-related activity remain notoriously sketchy, making it impossible for economists to calculate gains in total mobster factor productivity. But the trend is clear. In 1991, part-timers made up 33 per cent of total gang membership, a proportion that had risen to 51 per cent by last year. Conventional businesses have lagged behind that trend; a decade ago, part-timers made up 19 per cent of the workforce, rising to about 30 per cent today.

    The sharp rise in part-timers, the product of 1990s restructuring, has helped conventional businesses control costs and return to record profits. But divisions in the labour market between regular and non-regular workers has provoked soul-searching about the creation of an underclass of "working poor". In the crime world, this has been less of an issue. Yoshinori Watanabe, former leader of the Yamaguchi syndicate, the biggest and most formidable Japanese gang, long ago instructed his members to get regular jobs to camouflage their activity.

    Legitimate business, including warehouses, trucking and real estate, make up more than half of gang-related income, experts estimate, the rest being derived from more colourful lines of business, including protection rackets, prostitution and drugs. "There is so much yakuza money coursing through the investment world, it is almost impossible to distinguish it from clean money," said one financial expert. "They are much better at hiding what they do than they were during the bubble era."

    Part-time gang members may also be opting out of the hierarchical world that full-time membership entails. Onerous duties include making cash payments to the oyabun, a young hoodlum's father-figure boss, and keeping long hours, for instance by preserving a henchman's precious parking space. Similarly, in regular business, many young Japanese prefer bouncing between part-time jobs to joining a rule-bound company. Like yakuza gangs, Japanese businesses tend to be hierarchical, with strict dress codes, mind-numbing duties and compulsory overtime.

    The liberalisation of gangland labour practices is only one way Japan's yakuza have innovated. The Yama-guchi syndicate, for example, has led a wave of hostile takeovers unmatched in corporate boardrooms where such tactics are notoriously unsuccessful. The syndicate, based in the central city of Kobe, has moved steadily eastwards, taking over smaller gangs and consolidating its power in Tokyo. This week, two widely publicised shootings have been cited as evidence of the gang's tightening grip on the capital.

    As a result of expansion, Yamaguchi members now account for 47 per cent of all mobsters, once again putting them ahead of the corporate curve. The Fair Trade Commission currently blocks mergers that result in a market share above 35 per cent. But, in the interests of international competitiveness, it is considering raising the threshold to 50 per cent. That rule change would make the Yamaguchi syndicate competition-compliant.

    Finacial Times 10 February 2007

    15 February 2007

    Ottawa drug ring 'very well organized,' police say

    OTTAWA -- The alleged kingpin of a complex drug-running network that spanned from Vancouver to Toronto to Montreal lived in a modern, two-storey home in suburban Ottawa -- the kind of place where you would expect to be greeted by a hockey dad.

    But instead of a minivan, he drove a flashy black sports car. And, judging by the types of guns confiscated from his associates, any shots being fired had nothing to do with pucks and nets. The group was "very well organized," Inspector Gary Meehan of the Ottawa police told a news conference yesterday. That enabled "a hierarchy of associates to conduct hands-on business of drug trafficking and debt collection" under the direction of a leader who had "layers of subordinates."

    Guiseppe Battista, 38, was taken into custody on Jan. 22, an arrest that marks what police say was the beginning of the end of one of the largest organized-crime schemes ever uncovered in the nation's capital. He was charged with a slew of crimes, including participating in a criminal organization, weapons offences, drug offences and conspiracy to commit murder. Another 17 people were scooped up by police in the hours and days that followed, the final two arrests coming in Montreal on Monday. Collectively, they face 138 charges.

    The police had been watching Mr. Battista and his associates for 16 months. They were particularly interested in his friendships with members of the Hells Angels and the famed Rizzuto crime family in Montreal -- two of whom are among the accused. When the network appeared to have links to cities beyond Ottawa, members of the Ontario Provincial Police, the RCMP and the Montreal Police Service were called in to help in what the law-enforcement agencies came to call Project Bulldog. Mr. Battista is alleged to have brought drugs in from Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, which police say he sold locally.

    Using electronic surveillance equipment, they have amassed a case against the gang that was responsible for putting a sizable amount of cocaine onto Ottawa streets, they say. The police seized more than 22 kilograms of cocaine, along with smaller amounts of crack cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, Viagra and steroids. They also collected six handguns and a telescoping taser device, as well as more than $1.2-million in assets that they say were obtained through the proceeds of crime. That haul includes two homes owned by Mr. Battista.

    Staff Sergeant Mark Pinault said he and his fellow officers believe Mr. Battista had been involved in drug-trafficking operations for more than five years. But Staff Sgt. Pinault said he wasn't startled to find this type of operation in a suburban neighbourhood. "There's plenty of criminals still living out in the burbs. I don't think anybody should be surprised at that."

    Globeandmail.com 14/02/2007

    09 February 2007

    Chech Republic: Organized crime blamed for murders

    The Police Presidium blames a spike in murders in 2006 on increased organized crime — but the division in charge of investigating the underworld denies the connection.

    The Czech homicide rate jumped 24 percent in 2006. A total of 231 murders were reported, according to presidium statistics released Jan. 31, up from 186 in 2005. Deputy Police President Jan Chmelík told reporters that the number of murders connected with the mob increased as well, though he did not provide specific numbers.

    Blanka Kosinová, the spokeswoman for the presidium’s organized crime division, followed Chmelík remarks a few days later by saying they were unfounded. “I don’t know what drove Jan Chmelík to such a conclusion,” she said in an interview with The Prague Post. “We do not think that organized crime is to blame for the increasing murder rate. Our surveys and investigations definitely do not prove anything like that.”

    Chmelík said more international organized crime groups have gained a foothold in the Czech Republic, which Kosinová also denied. She detailed which groups are here, and which are most active and therefore priorities for police. She said Russian, Ukrainian, Balkan, Asian and Czech mafia groups have established presence. Authorities have recorded a decline in activities from Balkan gangs, which are mostly involved in human trafficking and the drug trade. Kosinová added that the Czech Republic has become a “quiet zone” for both Russian and Ukrainian gangs, who have divided their spheres of influence within the country. More worrying are Czech gangs, which she said are the toughest to investigate since they can wield influence in state administration. “Czech gangs have the most effective contacts,” she said.

    It appears others also call into question the presidium’s claim that murders and the mob are connected. According to Alena Marešová of the Czech Institute of Criminology and Social Prevention, a closer look yields different conclusions.“There is no need to be in a panic about the number of murders,” she said. “Violence is not definitely on the rise in the Czech Republic.”
    She cited institute statistics that show 25 foreigners committed murders last year. In 2005, 29 did. “I’ve heard these rumors of international gangs moving to the Czech Republic, but the statistical figures don’t prove it,” Marešová said.

    The statistics concluded that, while the country’s murder rate increased last year, the number of total crimes was lower than in 2005, from 344,060 to 336,446 — a trend that has been unfolding since the 1990s, which saw an explosion in crime following the fall of communism. Josef Mareš, who heads Prague’s criminal investigations office, said there wasn’t a significant change in the number of murders in the capital last year. In 2005, 37 murders occurred in Prague; in 2006, 38 did.

    Marešová said there were other explanations besides organized crime behind the national murder figures. “One is that the 2005 figures were very low,” she said. “It was nice to see them like that, but the truth is they were very low.” She also cited two killing sprees that drove numbers up last year: Petr Zelenka, the nurse who killed eight patients in east Bohemia, and Viktor Kalivoda, the so-called forest murderer, who killed three.

    The Prague Post 7 February 2007

    08 February 2007

    New Study on Gangs Contradicts Zero Tolerance Policies

    SAN ANTONIO — The organized crime and transnational reach of gangs is limited, and “zero tolerance” policies serve only to spread out young people without solving the problem, according to a new study in Spanish-language newspaper Rumbo.
    A soon-to-be released report by 14 investigators in seven countries, “Transnational Gangs in Central America, Mexico and the United States,” contradicts popular wisdom about gangs as an international problem that represents a terrorist threat and is linked to drug trafficking. In fact, gangs change from country to country, Gema Santamaria of Mexico’s Autonomous Technological Institute told Rumbo, and do not present a homogenous problem. Symbols, tattoos and the desire to feel that they are part of something bigger cross borders much more fluidly than their operations and logistics, according to the study. Some 85 percent of gang members in El Salvador have no contact with their counterparts in the United States, the report found. Yet governments in the region continue to view gangs as an international terrorist threat, recently launching “Secure Central America,” a regional strategy to combat gang-related activity.
    A 2005 academic investigation indicated the presence of 600,000 gang members in Central America, with another 100,000 in the United States. U.S. authorities even listed one gang, Mara Salvatrucha, as a terrorist organization and created a national task force in response to it. The multinational study recommends dialogue between authorities and communities in each country to address the problems that lead young people to join gangs.

    rumbonet.com 7 February 2007

    07 February 2007

    "It's Easy to Enter the Illegal Market in Germany"

    Six people were found shot dead in a Chinese restaurant in the town of Sittensen in the early hours of Monday, but a two-year-old girl managed to survive. A seventh victim died on Tuesday in the hospital, dashing the police's hopes of finding out more from him about the crime.

    All of the victims were of Asian origin and apparently worked in the Lin Yue restaurant; two may have been the owners. Their bodies were found tied up in different rooms of the restaurant. Police are questioning diners who were in the restaurant earlier in the evening on Sunday.

    The motive for the killings was unclear, police said. There was no evidence that the restaurant had been the target of blackmail and there was no history of Chinese mafia activity in Lower Saxony, the state where the restaurant is situated. Federal investigators are now working on the case. DW-WORLD.DE spoke with Klaus von Lampe at department of criminology at the Free University in Berlin about the case.

    06 February 2007

    EU ICS 2005: The Burden of Crime

    The EU International Crime Survey (EU ICS) is a programme to look a householders' experience with crime, policing, crime prevention and feelings of safety in a large number of countries. The 2005 report, which was presented at a press conference at the Residence Palace in Brussels on 5 February 2007 can be downloaded here (pdf).

    04 February 2007

    January issue of the Newsletter

    The January 2007 issue of the Newsletter is available here (pdf).
    We welcome comments and of course also contributions for any next issue.

    02 February 2007

    Gift cards new currency of crime?

    A story on gift cards as 'virtual currency for bad actors' ran in December 2006. The story was apparently based on a recent organized-crime threat assessment for Canada and the United States that identified gift cards and prepaid debit cards as one of the tools in the financial-crime kit of organised crime. The assessment was compiled by the RCMP, the FBI and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration..

    The cards that are booming business in the US are according to RCMP officers now accepted as valid currency between crime syndicates. Instead of a suitcase of cash, operatives might show up for a drug deal with a fistful of gift cards.

    "Let's just say a kilo of cocaine is sold for $30,000 on the market. Well, you come in with 15 cards loaded with $2,000, and you pay for that commodity," said Stephane Sirard, an intelligence analyst with the RCMP's criminal-intelligence directorate.

    For at least two reasons one can however question to which extent this is a genuine worry. Firstly, most cards are quite limited in their use, either by the maximum value or by the spending possibilities. For example, Visa issues gift cards with a maximum value of USD 500 and the American Express gift cards can be used only at a selected number of retail stores.

    Mastercard has indeed one card in the program the Vantage prepaid Mastercard that can be loaded up to USD 10.000 and can be used worldwide. However, and that is the second reason that a widespread use of these cards for criminal business can be questioned, look at the paper trail the card leaves.

    In addition, this possibility of using bank and credit cards as payment tool for organised crime is nothing new. The anonymous ATM and credit card has been around for some time. But even such cards require quite some effort to launder the ill gained proceeds first before the funds can be transferred to the card.

    The anonymous cards could very well be used for example to support small operational costs at home or abroad that need to stay 'below the radar'. However, as means of payment in international transactions the question of trust becomes of importance as the funds on a card cannot as easily be checked as a suitcase full of dollars. All together a widespread use of gift cards or anonymous debit cards for international transactions by organised crime seems not very likely.

    30 January 2007

    Korea: Gangsters Have a Hard Time Making Ends Meet

    The Korea Institute of Criminology on Monday painted a grim picture of organized crime here based on an in-depth survey of convicted Mafiosi. The institute sent questionnaires to 109 imprisoned gang members and selected 29 for further interview. The results show that while movies often portray crime syndicates as a lucrative workplace, the luxurious lifestyle has disappeared for all but a few bosses and the much-vaunted loyalty of gang members has practically disappeared.

    ◆ Scraping a dishonest living

    The research shows crime syndicates involved in on average 3.9 industries like gambling and running bars and clubs. Among syndicates, 30 percent earn W100-500 million (US$1=W940.10) a year, and 18.9 percent earn over W1 billion. Among gang members, the biggest group of 29.2 percent claimed they earned W1-3 million a month, closely followed by those saying they made W3-5 million (28.1 percent) and W5-10 million (22.5 percent). But in reality, most ordinary thugs barely scrape a living in the underworld. Gangs are pyramid organizations, and only one in hundreds rises to the top. The rest live on the edge of poverty. The KIC quotes one former gangster as saying, "I didn't even have gas money" while others complained they lacked the cash to go out.

    Research reveals that retaliation is now rare even if gang members defect, partly because gangs know how hard the life of a rank-and-file shyster can be. Park Gyung-rae, a researcher involved in the project, says some gangsters exaggerate their earnings out of pride. "In reality, most of them live poorly,” he adds. In one case, a gangster who joined a syndicate at 17 remained flat broke till leaving at the age of 32.

    ◆ Money before loyalty

    Movies often depict gangsters as committed to an overblown honor code, but gangsters say that is history. No boss today would hand over a bar he controls to a loyal member for free, and bosses who fail to rake in the money get no respect, gangsters say. Senior gangsters charge interest when they lend money to the rank and file, and some bosses commit suicide due to poverty. A member of an old-style gang waxed nostalgic about the past, when hoods followed orders without question. “Young gangsters these days don’t even bow to their seniors if they are poor,” he lamented. The generation gap apparently also afflicts the underworld. "Even gangsters worry about how spoiled young people are these days,” the old-timer is quoted as saying.

    ◆ Job satisfaction

    However, job satisfaction among gangsters was higher than in the police, according to the study. Despite rampant disloyalty and paltry earnings, 12.3 percent of crime syndicate members said they were satisfied with their life, compared to only 9.5 percent of police in a 2004 survey. The KIC attributes this to lingering illusions about the lifestyle of a gangster nourished by films.

    In other findings, the proportion of bosses and underbosses who had connections with the judiciary and business circles was high at 31.8 percent and 45.5 percent. Some 22.7 percent of syndicate leaders had a network of political connections, either for the sake of dodging the wages of sin or to make money through their connections.

    ◆ Symbiotic relationships

    The KIC says crime syndicates are no longer "parasites" who take other people's money but "partners" who run legitimate business by forming ties with influential figures. But while some say the actual crime committed by organized crime is on the wane, others warn that it is simply more subtle and thus even more damaging to society, the KIC reports.

    Chosun.com 30 January 2007

    UK: Police struggling to cope with rise of cyber-crime

    Police cannot cope with the huge rise in cyber-crime, such as computer viruses, fraud and the online grooming of children, Scotland Yard has admitted. And the scale of the problem has become so large that not all allegations can be investigated.
    Chief constables are lobbying for funding to set up a national "e-crime" squad to help deal with the growing number of offences, which are costing individuals and the country millions of pounds. The cost of identity theft to the UK economy alone is £1.7bn a year.

    A report on e-crime by the Metropolitan Police, which deals with the majority of e-crime in the UK, says: "It is widely recognised that e-crime is the most rapidly expanding form of criminality, encompassing both new criminal offences in relation to computers (viruses and hacking etc.) and 'old' crimes (fraud, harassment etc.), committed using digital or computer technology. The MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] assessment is that specialist e-crime units can no longer cope with all e-crime."

    The report highlights a number of cases:
    * A covert operation in which an investigator posing online as a young girl attracted 475 people keen to meet and have sex with her.
    * An man who sent an "e-mail bomb" containing about five million e-mails to his former employer, causing the company's e-mail server to collapse.
    * Three men were arrested for allegedly being members of a virus-writing organised crime group. A 63-year-old man in Ipswich, a 28-year-old in Scotland, and a 19-year-old in Helsinki were arrested after a global attack on computers that would have allowed them to steal personal information.
    The report, written by Detective inspector Charlie McMurdie, of the Metropolitan Police computer crime unit, concludes: "The ability of law enforcement to investigate all types of e-crime locally and globally must be 'mainstreamed' as an integral part of every investigation, whether it be specialist, or murder, robbery, extortion demands, identity theft or fraud. "Hackers and virus writers have evolved from largely enthusiastic amateur 'criminals' to financially motivated, organised global criminal enterprises. Prosecutions of virus writers and hackers in the UK have been infrequent up to now. However, the motivation of such offenders has now migrated from the curious adolescent to the profile of the financially motivated professional, often with organised crime links."
    The Association of Chief Police Officers is currently discussing the setting up of a new national e-crime unit.

    The Independent 24 January 2007