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

25 January 2007

eFencing: Ebay: A new place for Organized Crime?

CNBC's David Faber shares a special report (4 min video) on the Internet auction giant from CNBC's new show, "Business Nation."

23 January 2007

Intellectual property crime

Interpol has renewed its efforts on combating intellectual property crime claiming that counterfeiters are expanding the extent and scope of their activities.

22 January 2007

Call for Papers: Financial Off-Shoring and Under-Grounding

In recent decades the increasing volume and fluidity of banking and financial markets has depended on the "neutrality" attributed to the capital handled in the markets, as far as its origin and final destination are concerned. Nevertheless, in a context where the war against organized crime, money laundering and terrorism finance has become a worldwide public priority, the end of capital neutrality poses an interesting dilemma: what relationship exists between the quest for efficient allocation of resources and safeguarding the integrity of financial flows themselves from the risks of contamination related to the activities of criminal organisations? How to regulate phenomena as the financial offshoring, the informal credit markets, and to contrast at the same time the financial crime?

The Workshop will focus on the economics of grey an black finance. We wish to invite theoretical and empirical papers that explore different areas of interest, including: financial offshoring, underground and informal banking, money laundering, terrorism finance, usury, financial crime and law enforcement.

Papers will be presented in a plenary presentation of 30 minutes each, followed by a 15 minutes of discussion. Overall participation at the Workshop will be limited to 30 people. All copyrights of the papers will be retained by the authors.

The Workshop will take place at the Bocconi University in Milan, on October, 12, 2007. The Bocconi University will refund economy-class travel expenses and will cover accommodation for paper presenters and discussants.

Authors are invited to submit electronically (MS Word or PDF format) a complete paper. The first page of the paper should contain the title; name of the author(s), complete address, telephone, fax numbers and E-mail addresses. Please indicate in your cover letter whether you would be willing to serve as a session chair and/or discussant. All submitted papers must be accompanied by an abstract of at least 250 words, but no more than 400 words. Submit your paper to: donato.masciandaro@unibocconi.it

The deadline for submissions is within June, 30. Authors will be notified about the acceptance of their papers by July 15, 2007.

Mexico drug crime out of control says president

MADRID (Reuters) - Organized crime is running out of control in Mexico, Mexican President Felipe Calderon told the Spanish newspaper El Pais in an interview published on Sunday.

"Organized crime is getting out of control and is causing serious worries in some regions of the country, like Michoacan," Calderon said. "Murder rates were exceeding those of Colombia at one point." On Friday Mexico extradited four drug kingpins to the United States, striking a blow against warring cartels that killed 2,000 people last year and have turned large areas into lawless badlands.

President Calderon took office in December and has sent troops and elite police units to tackle drug gangs and halt a surge in violence as rival cartels fight over smuggling routes and drug fields. Killings linked to drug trafficking in the province of Michoacan have fallen nearly 70 percent from appallingly high figures last month, he said, but he told the newspaper there was a lot more work to do. Continued collaboration with the United States to fight drug crime was essential, he said. "The United States, unfortunately, is the biggest consumer of drugs in the world. That fosters this extreme drug-trafficking phenomenon in Mexico," he said.
"It's a very simple equation -- you can't get a significant reduction in drug supply if there's not a significant reduction in demand."

On a surge in the price of staple tortillas, Calderon said he would increase imports in order to discourage speculation and hoarding by traders. "The complexity of this situation goes far beyond what the Mexican government can do, and I dare say, any government," he said. "Corn has moved from $81 a ton, to nearly $160 in a couple of months. "We will be severe, firm and relentless in cases of speculative abuse," he said.

The recent price increases in the flat corn bread, driven by soaring U.S. demand for ethanol fuel made from corn, have pushed up inflation and hurt millions of Mexican households that serve tortillas with nearly every meal.

Sun Jan 21, 2007

Queensland: Black trade in sex flourishes

ORGANISED crime is strengthening its grip on Queensland's prostitution industry, thwarting attempts by police and the State Government to control the flourishing trade in sex.

Legal brothel operators frustrated by ineffective policing of the laws governing the sale of sexual services claim illegal operators meet regularly for breakfast to discuss their industry, that crime figures have arranged for some taxi drivers to be paid commissions to drive passengers to illegal brothels, and prostitutes are taking part in organised sex tours of rural towns.

The Courier-Mail also has been told that an Asian crime gang with Australian partners has operated Asian gambling tours to the Gold Coast where prostitutes were made available free of charge. The group made most of its money through high interest rates charged on large gambling loans to clients. The organisation representing the state's 23 legal brothels said attempts by police to seek out those who helped organise Queensland's huge illegal escort agency had not quelled its growth. "It's bigger and better than it ever has been," said Nick Inskip, spokesman for the Queensland Adult Business Association.

It is 20 years since reporting on illegal prostitution by The Courier-Mail, and follow-ups by the ABC, led to the Fitzgerald inquiry and the subsequent exposure of a corrupt police force involved in running brothels and accepting bribes in return for protection. There is no suggestion police are involved in the current resurgence of illegal prostitution. On the contrary, they are hamstrung in their efforts to stem the growth of illegal operators. Invitations for the police to comment for this series of articles were declined.

But the Queensland Adult Business Association, representing the state's 23 legal brothels, is an outspoken opponent of the new regulatory system. Its members pay tens of thousands of dollars in licence fees, income and company tax, only to see the illegal industry thrive, tax-free. Mr Inskip said the illegal industry had been transformed by technology. "It takes advantage today of the internet, of new technologies, a whole range of different techniques to advantage themselves . . . they can recruit as they like."

In Queensland, about 25 per cent of the sex industry is legal and takes the form of licensed brothels. The remaining 75 per cent is comprised of individual or solo sex workers who operate legally if they work alone, and the state's massive illegal escort industry. Mr Inskip said the illegal industry had organised individual workers into networks of what otherwise would appear to be legal solo sex workers. He said there was evidence of the illegal industry recruiting teenage schoolgirls to work as escorts and perform sex work after school hours.

One sex worker, Mr Inskip said, had told him she and her friend were recruited when 16-year-old schoolgirls in a regional centre by a woman from an illegal brothel. They told him the enforcers included a number of taxi drivers and that the operation was highly organised. Legal solo sex workers in the bush had told him of organised illegal sex workers moving from town to town providing services advertised in local papers. Several of those interviewed told The Courier-Mail the current law that allowed prostitutes to operate provided they worked alone was almost impossible to enforce as any illegal organisation behind them was virtually invisible. Some solo sex workers were acting legitimately when they obtained clients themselves and illegally when they accepted clients offered by syndicated phone and escort services. An illegal operation could change identity simply by replacing SIM cards on mobile phones.

The contradictions in the regulation of prostitution are easy to find. While Queensland's Prostitution Licensing Authority spends its time poring over the wording of newspaper ads submitted by legal brothels, escort agencies – illegal in Queensland – are able to place large display ads in Brisbane's Yellow Pages under the guise of offering "companionship services". Mr Inskip said illegal agencies that advertised in the Yellow Pages did not openly admit to offering sex services, so without using entrapment techniques, police would have difficulties obtaining evidence to close them. And even if they did entrap and charge a sex worker, the escort agency could claim it had arranged a meeting for companionship only. It was not in control of events and any exchange of money after that was strictly between the sex worker and the client.

Mr Inskip said illegal operators had harnessed the internet, posing as clients giving recommendations and reviews of various sex workers and escort services in blogs. Ray Van Haven, a Dutchman and owner of the Oasis legal brothel in Sumner Park, said he paid more than $20,000 a year in licensing fees, company tax, income tax, and WorkCover fees only to see the illegal industry, which pays nothing, operate with impunity. Mr Van Haven said criminals were approaching legal owners with offers that showed the illicit sex industry was being well organised by large-scale operators. He had refused an offer to supply him with dozens of girls from what he believed was an overseas crime organisation. "They could organise as many women as I wanted from whatever age that I wanted from a number of countries that I wanted, at any time," he said. "They're very big operators to the extent you can wonder how fair it is to the legal operators to work in that environment."

Another problem is that a lot of the escort agency sector is organised on a national basis – something that would make efforts by individual state authorities piecemeal. A typical scenario put to us was: a man staying in a Brisbane hotel telephones an escort service number which is then diverted to a receptionist in Sydney. The receptionist calls what otherwise would be a legal sole worker in Brisbane who visits the man's hotel in Brisbane. It appears from the outside to be a legally operating solo sex worker providing an outcall service.

Mr Inskip said interstate-run escort services also had organised groups of workers to visit men in male-dominated parts of rural and regional Queensland such as mining regions. They were organised into motel units so they would appear to be sole traders and their services advertised as such in regional papers – who also believed they were sole traders.

Prostitution researcher and sociologist Professor Jake Najman said he knew of a scam where calls to a Queensland escort service were diverted across the border to Tweed Heads from where a sexual service was organised. These schemes were illegal but the border hop made them difficult to police. The large proportion of ads for Asian sex workers has fuelled concern that some of these are being organised by syndicates, again camouflaged as solo worker services.

Mr Inskip said some of these sex workers appeared to be bona fide Asian students who went to university but also undertook sex work organised for them even before they arrived in Australia.

The Courier Mail 22 January 2007

19 January 2007

Research Assistant

The Centre for Criminology (University of Oxford) is looking for a Research Assistant to provide research support to Professor Federico Varese. Further information can be found here.

18 January 2007

Link list

The Tuebingen Institute of Criminology has updated its extensive link list. Its has become an impressive list of Websites/URLs on Criminology, Criminal Justice, Corrections etc.

17 January 2007

2007 Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology

The 2007 Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology will be jointly organized in Bologna - September 26/29, 2007 by the University of Bologna, Department of Education Sciences (Faculty of Vocational Training Sciences) and the Service of Safety Policies and Local Police of the Regione Emilia-Romagna. For more information visit the website.

A call for papers for this conference was issued as well. Deadline for submitting abstracts is 31 may 2007.

16 January 2007

China: Taskforces to probe chopping spree

GUANGZHOU: Police have established special taskforces to investigate what has become a spate of murder-dismemberment cases.

In the latest cases, two dismembered bodies were found this weekend in Guangzhou and Foshan. The emergence of these cases follows the arrest this weekend of two suspects for the murder and dismemberment of a third victim in an unrelated case. "Police are investigating the two cases and have promised to solve them soon," a police officer from the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Public Security said yesterday.

In the most recent case, environmental sanitation workers found human body parts wrapped in three yellow plastic bags in the Shijing River in Guangzhou's Baiyun District on Sunday afternoon. Police quickly secured the scene and took the body parts to the lab for further investigation. Police suspect the victim was a black man.

On Saturday, a woman's body parts were discovered in three refrigerators at the store she ran in Xiabei Village, in Foshan's Nanhai District. The woman's head and legs are still missing. The woman, who was thought to be in her 30s, was a native of Hunan Province. Her husband, an employee at a local molding factory, has been detained for questioning. The couple apparently quarrelled regularly.

And in the earliest case, police arrested a couple suspected of killing and dismembering a man and then sending his body parts to three different cities in cardboard boxes. The man had apparently had an affair with the woman suspect, who was a prostitute.

Liu Ancheng, director of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Public Security, said police were working to solve every homicide case in this province in South China. Guangdong has the country's highest crime rate. Liu told a press conference in the provincial capital of Guangzhou yesterday that police would work to uphold social order. "Guangdong will never become a haven for criminals from the mainland or abroad," he said. Liu hinted that provincial authorities were planning to launch more anti-crime campaigns in the near future.

The crime rate in Guangdong usually peaks around the lunar new year, which falls on February 18 this year, because of the warm weather in the province. Liu said Guangdong police would spare no effort in their fight against crime during the new year holiday. In addition to homicide, the special campaigns will also target street theft, breaking and entering and organized crime.

Guangdong police have also promised to expand police patrols in business districts and on major streets. And new police stations will be built along the province's expressways in the coming months. Liu said police had launched a campaign code-named Yueying 3, or Guangdong Eagle 3, on December 25 that had yielded positive results. Between December 25 and January 12, Guangdong police solved 2,596 criminal cases, including 41 homicides, and detained 2,397 suspects.

The campaign is also thought to have reduced the number of criminal gangs and triads operating in the province. Yueying 3 will wrap up at the end of March. Police have also solved 467 drug and related cases, seizing 11.6 kilograms of heroine, 789 kilograms of ice and more than 1.59 million ecstasy pills in the past three weeks.

(China Daily 01/16/2007 page4)

15 January 2007

Call for Papers: 2007 HUMSEC Conference

The Call for Papers for the 2007 HUMSEC Conference has been published. The conference is to be held 4-6 October 2007 in Sarajevo, titles of proposed papers, plus abstracts of approximately 350 words are invited no later than 31 March 2007.

12 January 2007

UK: Crime assets agency scrapped

In an apparent further bid to centralise efforts to combat organised crime the Home office has announces that the Assets Recovery Agency (Ara) will be scrapped and by 2008 will be merged with the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca). The proposals are however still subject to Parliamentary approval.

The move follows criticism of the performance of the Ara, after it emerged last year that it cost four times as much to run as it recovered from criminals. Meanwhile the Merseyside police's Attacking Criminal Economies (Ace) program seems highly succesful. Liverpool police succesfully confiscated £6.5m last year.

11 January 2007

Mafia in Israel: bottle recycling takeover

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said yesterday that police are investing great effort and resources toward trying to prevent organized crime from taking over bottle recycling. Speaking to the Knesset plenum, Dichter added that the police are treating this initiative as part of a broader effort to stop organized crime's takeover of legitimate activities.

According to Dichter, the complexity of the phenomenon requires an integrated inter-establishment effort, in order to deal with the issue in a thorough and efficient manner. This, said Dichter, also requires time. Dichter stressed that the investigation is being conducted by Tel Aviv District Police and while no arrests have been made so far, some are expected in the future.

"The activities of organized crime and the takeover of the bottle recycling branch is part of an ongoing trend in recent years of infiltration and takeover of legitimate departments by organized crime, as part of the effort to launder money and increase income by these organizations," said Dichter. Dichter said the takeover is usually conducted through threats, extortion, and severe violence, which is often accompanied by the use of firearms. According to Dichter, this is part of the power struggle between the groups themselves.

The primary motive for organized crime to dominate bottle recycling is monetary profit, as well as the potential to take advantage of the branch for money laundering. Dichter stressed that the criminals involved come from all echelons of crime, including national and local crime organizations, as well as independent criminals.

Haaretz.com 11-01-2007

08 January 2007

06 January 2007

Call for Papers: ‘Corruption and Democracy in Europe: Public Opinion and Social Representations’



‘Corruption and Democracy in Europe: Public Opinion and Social Representations’

We wish to organise panels for the ECPR General Conference in Pisa, 6 8 September 2007. The panel(s) will be entitled ‘Corruption and Democracy in Europe: Public Opinion and Social Representations’. Anyone who would like to give a paper should e-mail Oscar Mazzoleni (oscar.mazzoleni@ti.ch), Jim Newell (j.l.newell@salford.ac.uk) or Odette Tomescu-Hatto (odette.hatto@sciences-po.org) by no later than 10 February with a short abstract (circa 300 words) describing the paper they want to present.

The point of departure for the panel is three-fold: 1) awareness of the importance of public confidence in the standards of conduct of the holders of public office as a key variable impacting on the stability and effectiveness of democratic regimes; 2) awareness that concerns about such conduct have come to be an increasingly prominent feature of public life in European societies over the past two decades; 3) awareness that there are few studies of the expectations and perceptions of general publics in relation to the standards of conduct of public office holders.

At the most general level, therefore, the purpose of the panels will be to explore, on a cross-national, comparative basis: (1) the kinds of conduct/practices have been made visible to the public and how; (2) the current ‘state of the art’ regarding research into public norms and values, and into perceptions and evaluations of the conduct of public office-holders; (3) the related theoretical and conceptual issues that require addressing in order to advance beyond the current position and enable us to establish (a) what publics regard as acceptable and unacceptable on the part of public office-holders and how such attitudes vary; (b) how far the behaviour of public office-holders is in fact perceived as acceptable and how such perceptions vary; (c) how far publics believe that public office-holders will be held to account when their behaviour is unacceptable and how such beliefs vary; (d) how office-holders (or office-seekers) try to use (anti-)corruptive rhetoric in political competition.

Within these broad themes, we welcome papers focussing on any specific aspect of corruption and related behaviours; their social representation; policy makers’ responses to concerns about corruption and related behaviours.

Details of the conference can be found on the ECPR’s web site

Combating Organised Car Theft in NZ: Stalling tactics

The double garage behind a tidy suburban house looked like any other, but the roller doors masked a hive of illegal endeavour. When police following a tipoff called, they found more than they bargained for. "We thought there was one [stolen] car there; when we found nine it was the jackpot," says Constable Phil Saville of Howick police.

It was the kind of operation that would keep many mainstreet mechanics in new overalls: two cars being dismantled and rebuilt, two more ready to go, parts from another five scattered around. The police call them chop shops - this one catered to the top end of the market. Being taken to bits was a shiny new Holden HSV GTO valued at $120,000. Black, two-door, six speed, it was nicked from a car groomer's yard while being readied for its buyer. When police walked in, its front body panels, dashboard, doors and seats had been put on an older model Commodore, stripped to its shell. The 6-litre engine was about to go. The chop shop was connected to a gang with a penchant for HSVs, says Saville.

About 30 per cent of car theft is linked to organised crime.

The market is varied: cars may be chopped up for parts; the "jewellery" on high performance models switched to standard cars, as in this case; some are stolen to order and shipped overseas; others are sold within days at a knockdown price after the vehicle identification number (VIN) and plates are swapped. But in the case of the HSV GTO, microdot identification had been sprayed on to all parts. The microdots helped police return the car, and all its parts, to the importer, Schofield's.

The identification procedure is called whole of vehicle marking: thousands of microscopic dots encoded with the car's make and VIN number and contained in an adhesive film are sprayed on to all parts, including the engine, wheels, inside of panels and seats. The procedure takes minutes and can be done during assembly or on assembled cars. Police equipped with ultraviolet magnifying torches can quickly read the pinhead-size dots to tell if a car is legitimate. Microdots are difficult to remove - and it takes only one to establish a case. The technology is not new - microdots were first used in 1948 by spies.

Two years ago, the Government promised to introduce whole of vehicle marking on all cars as they enter the country as part of a major crackdown on vehicle crime. Police and Justice officials see enormous potential to cure one of the country's biggest crime sores. In the year to June 30, according to Statistics NZ, 22,890 motor vehicles were stolen, up nearly 20 per cent in a year. Police records suggest only one in five were recovered.

Overseas, whole of vehicle marking has led to dramatic falls in thefts of high performance vehicles when introduced by manufacturers as an option for car owners. But New Zealand was poised to be the first country to introduce mandatory whole of vehicle marking.

Car theft is not exactly a top priority for hard-pressed police, given the painstaking detection work involved, the limited chances of success and the fact most owners can claim insurance. But it costs the country about $80 million a year and adds to the insurance premiums of every motorist. It is also increasingly linked to organised crime - gangs use the proceeds to import drugs and finance other crime. Police say whole of vehicle marking could save thousands of hours spent tracing stolen cars and parts, freeing them to solve violent crime cases and other priorities. "We talk to criminals - they know about them and don't want to touch them," says Senior Constable Mark Gibson, a motor vehicle crime investigator with Wellington CIB. "Crooks are concerned these cars have thousands of dots on them which you can't get rid of. If the car's going to sit in the backyard or in the chop shop for a couple of days they run the risk of being caught."

There is also the potential to solve other crimes: it's not unusual for parts to fall off vehicles during hit and runs, car chases and aggravated robberies, which often involve stolen vehicles. Gibson cites an aggravated robbery at a petrol station in which the getaway car clipped a fence, leaving behind a bumper. "It took us 10 days to identify the make and model, year of manufacture, whether it was an import or New Zealand new, the number in New Zealand ... If the car had microdots that would have taken 10 minutes."

Jeremy Wood, director of the Justice Department's crime prevention unit, also says microdotting has implications for organised crime. "It would have a significant impact on vehicle theft and the resale of parts. Speeding up investigations can help to prevent further offending."

But two years on, proponents of whole of vehicle marking are wondering whether the initiative, supposed to be in place by the middle of last year, has hit a dead end. If the delay is frustrating police and potential industry players, the response of Cabinet ministers serves only to fuel emerging conspiracy theories. The Herald approached Minister of Police Annette King's office for comment, but was directed to Minister of Transport Harry Duynhoven. "They're handling it," said King's spokesman.

Duynhoven's office asked that questions be put in writing. One day later the Herald received a brief written response - from King's office. It said a consultant was being engaged to undertake a cost-benefit analysis. Before imposing such a scheme on New Zealanders, it was necessary to understand the compliance costs and benefits to consumers and the industry. King expected to report back to Cabinet in March.

Just why has it taken two years to get around to a cost-benefit analysis on an initiative hailed by former Justice Minister Phil Goff as "proven [as] a strong deterrent to professional criminals"? One potential operator, DataDot Technology, says reluctant vehicle importers have spread misinformation that it will cause unacceptable delays and add hundreds of dollars to the cost of newly imported vehicles. The right answer may be that the wrong Government department - the Ministry of Transport - was charged with implementing the scheme.

Steve Plowman, editor of the Police Association magazine Police News, suggested in an October article that differing agendas were behind the delay. "Police and the Ministry of Justice are in the business of crime reduction whereas the Ministry of Transport focuses on traffic safety ... Transport may be tending towards pushing it towards the 'too hard basket'."

The ministry's land safety legislation manager, Leo Mortimer denies a Government U-turn. "New Zealand will be the first country in the world to mandate whole of vehicle marking - it's pretty important we get it right. "It's important to have a system that meets requirements but doesn't slow down vehicles coming into the country and doesn't impose horrendous compliance costs."

While whole of vehicle marking undergoes tortuous analysis, the second main plank of the Government's vehicle crime reduction package is stalled. Vehicle immobilisers, which prevent cars being hotwired, were also to be fitted to all imports, Goff said in January 2005.

While immobilisers were now standard on most new vehicles, they were fitted to only 5 to 10 per cent of used imports. Immobilisers would deter "opportunistic" theft - thought responsible for three-quarters of vehicle crime - while whole of vehicle marking would close down the professional theft rings. But the Government believes whole of vehicle marking should be phased in ahead of compulsory immobilisers. Debate is focused partly on the cost of microdotting and partly on the logistics of treating an estimated 190,000 cars a year as they enter the country.

Motor Industry Association chief executive Perry Kerr, who represents new vehicle importers, puts the cost to motorists of applying the dots alone at "around $399 to $500 before GST".

DataDot NZ managing director David Lumsden estimates the cost at $70 a car - lower if tests on new robot application technology prove effective. He says car owners will quickly recoup the cost through reductions in insurance premiums. The insurance industry agrees. Lumsden is frustrated by the lack of progress and suspects the transport ministry has been "got at" by car importers touting out-of-date information and misrepresenting the facts.

"The $70 tag is for only one part of the process," Mortimer told the Weekend Herald. The length of time needed to apply the dots was also an issue, he explained. "We are looking at the wider benefits. There are professional thefts and opportunist thefts - for opportunists, it may not necessarily matter."

That statement echoed views expressed by the motor industry's Perry Kerr who told the Herald whole of vehicle marking should be confined to high value, high performance vehicles targeted by professionals. "There's no doubt that it's effective but we don't believe you have to apply it to everything from Daihatsus to $400,000 vehicles. The [theft] problem lies at the higher end. "The Government has decided to treat all vehicle owners as part of this nanny state and impose a mandatory fee for data dotting your vehicle."

DataDot's Lumsden counters that Kerr's $390-$500 estimate is mischievous and that he is choosing to ignore updated pricing information. He says whole of vehicle marking needs to be across the board or thieves will simply move on to unmarked makes and models.

Police figures suggest theft by professional rings accounts for more than a third of stolen vehicles and the rate is rising sharply. Senior Constable Jeff Haynes, one of the country's few police specialists in stolen vehicles, says car thieves are not that picky. "Cars that young guys drive are by far the biggest market for spare parts - the most common car stolen is 10 to 12 years old."

Haynes says microdots will make it easier to detect stolen parts. But he warns that the measure will have little impact unless police are directed, and funded, to investigate theft. "We've changed the rules with car dealers and second-hand dealers but no one visits the wreckers' yards and looks at the books." Few professional rings are caught because they maintain a low profile, he says. "There's no way they're going to get looked at by police unless someone dobs them in. Police have to be alerted that there's something dodgy about the car in the first place."

Haynes' pessimism is not shared by his Wellington counterpart, Mark Gibson. "Police really have limited means of identifying cars. "The microdot system is the best investigative tool we've ever had."

NZHerald.co.nz Saturday January 06, 2007

03 January 2007

New Book: The organisation of crime for profit. Conduct, law and measurement.

Petrus C. van Duyne, Almir Maljevic, Maarten van Dijck, Klaus von Lampe, James L. Newell (Eds.)
Softcover 205 pages (2006)
Publisher: Wolf Legal Publishers
Language: English
ISBN 10: 90-5850-220-1
Price: € 24,75

Synopsis (provided by the publisher)

Organised crime remains an important policy issue in Europe. Despite this
importance, it proves easier to measure the bird flu than a widely feared criminal social phenomenon like organised crime. That is understandable: the phenomon covers a wide range of different forms of ‘getting rich quickly’ by entrepreneurial crime. Also, the lack of conceptual consensus and the poor quality of the data do not facilitate the measurement of organised crime. In addition, the perimeter phenomenon has broadened: money laundering, which has been associated with organised crime from the very beginning, has become a phenomenon of its own with a universal dimension.
The increased focus on ill-gotten profits has brought financial and economic crime (by its nature organised) into the orbit of organised crime. In addition, the former USSR satellite states have (or are about to) become full members of the EU. This increased playground for the organisation of crime is a matter of growing concern.

In this sixth volume of the Cross-border Crime Colloquium, experts from eight European countries share their expertise regarding the measurement of organised crime, financial and economic criminality, money laundering, corruption and the Mafia and the organisation of business crime, comparing cartel building, labour subcontracting and cigarette smuggling.

This volume contains contributions from Petrus C. van Duyne, Klaus von Lampe, Maarten van Dijck, Rob Horsnby, Anna Markina, Karen Verpoest, Barbara Vettori, Miroslav Scheinost, Brendan Quirke, Norbert Wagner, Martin Boberg, Uwe Beckmann, Thomas Schulte and James L. Newell.

Call for Papers: European crime-markets at cross-roads: extended and extending criminal Europe

Ninth Cross-border Crime Colloquium 21 - 23 October 2007, Prague

The colloquium will be hosted by The Institute of Criminology and Social prevention

Theme: what is known about the development of crime-markets in Europe while the European Union has extended and, after a pause, will probably continue to extend. What will remain the same and what is likely to change?
Potential topics within this framework:

 The (organisation of) underground trade in prohibited substances, e.g. drugs.
 The ‘criminal services markets’, e.g. human smuggling.
 The ‘upperworld’ crime-economy: financial and economic crime.
 Criminal money management: laundering and the role of crime-money in the upperworld.
 Developments and changes in the international organisation of crime from a national perspective
 Upper- and underworld: crime, power and corruption

These topics are not suggested as an exhaustive list. Related topics are certainly welcomed. As usual the contributions will be peer reviewed and published in the well-known Colloquium Series. For this reason the contributors are requested to submit a draft of their intended paper before the Colloquium.

The Colloquium is free of charges and free residence is available for 20 foreign participants during the conference. Further information will be posted at cross-border-crime.net

More than 3,000 soldiers, federal police to fight crime in Tijuana

TIJUANA, Mexico – The Mexican government announced Tuesday that it is sending more than 3,000 soldiers and federal police to fight drug gangs in the violent border city of Tijuana, the latest offensive by President Felipe Calderon who has promised to smash organized crime.
The force, backed by 28 boats, 21 planes and nine helicopters will mount checkpoints in the city, patrol the coast and hunt down suspected traffickers, Interior Secretary Francisco Ramirez Acuna said in a news conference in the presidential palace in Mexico City.

“We will carry out all the necessary actions to retake every region of national territory,” Ramirez Acuna said. “We will mot allow any state to be a hostage of narco traffickers or organized crime.”
Tijuana, over the border from San Diego, is one of the busiest border crossings in the world and has long been one of the favorite smuggling routes for cocaine, marijuana and meth amphetamines to the United States.

Last year, there were more than 300 killings in the city, most of which stemmed from fighting between rival drug gangs, investigators say. Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon welcomed the soldiers, saying he would like them to work hand in hand with city police who are conducting random security checkpoints.

Calderon, a conservative career politician, took office in December after winning a close election on a law and order platform.
Last month he sent 7,000 soldiers and federal police to his native state of Michoacan which has been plagued by execution style killings and beheadings as rival drug gangs fought over marijuana plantations and smuggling routes.

These troops have arrested more than 50 people, including several suspected leaders of the feuding cartels, as well as seizing large quantities of gold, bulletproof vests, military equipment and shirts with federal and municipal police logos.

Calderon is scheduled to make his first visit to the troops on Wednesday at a Michoacan military base. Calderon's predecessor, Vicente Fox, promised the “mother of all battles” against organized crime, sending in thousands of soldiers and federal police to some drug embattled towns and arresting several major drug kingpins. But the arrests appeared to spark more violence as up-and-coming gangsters battled to take over the smuggling routes of those killed or arrested.

2 January 2007, AP