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.