29 February 2008

One Adult in 100 in jail in America

Big story in both Washington Post and New York Times today. 2.3 million people behind bars...More than in China! Highest absolute number in world as well as highest percentage of population.

28 February 2008

US steps up deportation of immigrant criminals

Let's hope this doesn't just expand the network as a previous Post article suggested was happening. Needs a big research project on prison gangs and their links into other countries in order to produce a policy that doesn't just spread ideas and networks across the criminal fraternity.

Virtual Fence along border to be delayed

Surprise, surprise! The technology did not deliver as promised. I have a guy who wants to do a PhD with me whose thesis is 2 the more obstacles you put in the way of immigration, the more human trafficking you will end up with". There's another discuss question for that exam paper!

Sunni Forces Losing Patience with US

A developing story. Almost a classic of community policing versus law enforcement. The dilemma at the heart of counter-insurgency and counter-crime operations...How do you teach the hard men to use kid gloves? And I mean the "good guys" here. I do hope someone has remembered what the strategy is and has some control over tactics....

US creates conflict over visas and EU citizens

A number of issues here:
Note at the foot that Lichtenstein joins Schengen on March 1st, which places all sorts of obligations on it
Note also that not all EU countries have visa-free access to the US
Note that the Commission would like to negotiate on behalf of the whole EU, rather than let the US pick off member states one by one as it has with the Czech Republic.
Note what the US is after in return for visa-free access...It sounds awfully like the US immigration service is a market research organisation for US multinationals.
Is this really terrorism or organised crime prevention? Another finals essay question requiring discussion. I will have written someone's exam paper for them before too long.

Hapless Robbers Target Bikers Meeting

Not a good idea at all! One of those cheer you up stories, with little if any academic importance.

Home Office data found inside laptop sold on eBay

Amazingly, the data was encrypted! Another one of those stories that may disappear forever or open out into something bigger. As I have said before, watch this space!

25 February 2008

Australian Bureau of Statistics yearbook

All the social and economic statistics for Australia plus some exciting articles

24 February 2008

Godfather's arrest sparks fears of bloody conflict

A little bit more on the arrest of the head of Ndrangheta, but with an account of its loose organisational structure, comparing it to al Qaeda.

At least Germany Stamps on Tax Havens

Piece by Nick Cohen on the crimes of the rich and powerful. usual comments follow! Times claims that data has been sold to UK authorities as well as German investigators. See http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/money/tax/article3423610.ece

23 February 2008

Cheap cocaine floods Argentina

Very depressing article from the New York Times on "paco", a chemical laden version of cocaine for the poor and the unemployed. Takes you back to Merton.

21 February 2008

EU OK's surveillance cameras at internal borders

I must admit, I thought everyone had these already. Profiling of border crossers was always intended to be part of Schengen.

Criticisms of EU terror list system

And about time too! Whilst it is acceptable to have such a listing process, there has to be a procedure for proving a suspect's innocence and getting people removed from the list. There also has to be transparency over the process of being placed on the list. EU parliament's civil liberties committee debating Council of Europe report.

20 February 2008

Tab in scam at Tax Office in D.C. nears $50 million

This case was reported earlier in the blog, but there is more in the present Washington Post article on methods and the discovery of a general climate of corruption in the office. The practice goes back 20 years, prosecutors now think. Organised or disorganised crime?

Adamov convicted of stealing $30 million

Former Russian nuclear power minister convicted of stealing from a joint us-Russian uranium venture. Unclear whether this conviction will satisfy US authorities. Russians refused to extradite. May be a precedent here for a future prosecution for murder of Litvinenko...or not. Interesting to see how US reacts to the conviction. There will be an appeal.

19 February 2008

The Troubles won't be over until these killings stop

Piece by Mary O'Hara on the aftermath of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland with lots of comments on the paramilitaries and organised crime. Lots in there for the researcher.

Ndrangheta boss caught after 20 years on run

Pasquale Condello, head of ndrangheta, the Calabrian mafia has been arrested. Ive chosen the Guardian story because there are links to another page with all recent stories on the Drugs Trade and to International Crime. Guardian appears to be reorganising its website, because its taking time to load and there are lots of "what me? I dont exist" pages around at the moment.

Same story on the BBC site at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7251892.stm

18 February 2008

The curious voyage of the iphone

New York Times article about the long way round by which iphones made in China return there for use on the domestic market. Illicit business or illegal business? Whichever, It's big money for somebody somewhere.

UK gang culture penetrates prison system

Young street criminals are taking their gang allegiances and love of knives into the prison system with them, according to this article from the Guardian. I seem to remember that this was the way many classic turf-oriented organised crime groups began in other countries. Dangerous stuff for the long term.

FBI say Miami airport used for laundering cocaine cash

Lots of euro banknotes coming through Miami airport, allegedly from proceeds of cocaine deals in Europe. Associated Press Report available via msnbc. Article describe the laundering technique.

Resource materials on technology-enabled crime

Paper from the Australian Institute of Criminology on issues raised by technology-enabled crime and some useful links to previous work.

17 February 2008

The Art of Stealing

Independent on Sunday's review of art theft. Apparently the FBI considers it to be the third most lucrative international criminal operation, after drugs and weapons, worth about £3 billion a year. [I know, last week it was trafficking in human beings, the week before it was cigarette smuggling. Plus ca change!]

16 February 2008

Tenth Crime mapping Research Conference

Down in New Orleans in September

New issue of Community Policing Dispatch

This is the monthly Newsletter of the COPS office [Community Oriented Policing Service. Home page: http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/ ] in the US. Article in this issue on community policing partnerships as a key element in Homeland Security strategy. Worth reading in connection to the previous post.

Lambert's unit's work raises questions that the article here doesnt really address: Getting the balance right between using and reassuring the community, especially where the community is an ethnic or religious minority or both. A purely instrumental approach can increase alienation. The second question is where is the line to be drawn? Are there members of the community who should not be brought into partnership in any circumstances or are the police to engage in partnership with all groups in the community who are willing to engage? Should the police seek partnership with any group that opposes violence within the state? What if that group supports violence elsewhere? Say for example, to avoid the obvious cases, to overthrow Putin's government or to "liberate" Tibet?

More finals essay questions for you all to set your students!

14 February 2008

We need to listen to the man from Special Branch

Especially since he is studying for his PhD under my supervision...The comments that follow this piece are just so scary!

The Economics of Corruption

The link is to the Internet Centre for Corruption Research, but today's announcement on their site is for their annual postgraduate programmes, starting in October.

13 February 2008

Of course it couldnt happen here

Business takeover Moscow style. How to use your friends in the police, the tax inspectors and the fire safety officers to acquire someone else's business. It's all part of the good old "krysha" system. Organised crime penetrating state structures.

International Journal of Rural Crime launched

International Journal of Rural Crime announces its first issue. Rob Mawby of Plymouth is the Editor. A free access online journal.

Raids target £100 million drug network

The trials subsequent to these raids should reveal a great deal about the nature of this particular network. The interesting feature is that the laundering part of the operation has been rolled up at the same time as the drug trafficking side.

12 February 2008

Fighting Demand for Sex Trafficking

Speech by Mark Lagon, Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons [US State Dept.]. Part of the global move to address the demand side of the equation.

War by Other Means - Building Complete and Balanced Capabilities for Counterinsurgency

Counterinsurgency doctrine has in the past served as a source of strategies against organised crime and for policing generally. This Rand report is a critique of present US counterinsurgency policy and argues that counterinsurgency is fundamentally a struggle for the allegiance of a population. Read and watch the ideas percolate policing practice over the next ten years.

11 February 2008

International Crime Science Conference

UCL Centre for Security and Crime Science. "This year the conference will concentrate on the prevention, disruption and detection of terrorism, organised crime, crime and anti-social behaviour." It will be every bit as tekky as you might fear, but this is the call for papers and it could be interesting, though rather top-down in ints approach.

09 February 2008

After raid, restructuring?

New York Times Article comparing effect of arrests of Gambino family to company restructuring. Slightly tongue-in-cheek, but some interesting hypotheses hidden away in the piece if you follow the business model approach to organised crime.

Police find one million ecstasy pills in Liverpool flat

Somebody rang the police and said a burglary was taking place....and in they went...to find....I suspect someone is going to be very cross

08 February 2008

Malicious programmes hit new high

The graph at the beginning of the article is quite scary. Links to other articles on malware with this article by the BBC

Scores arrested in transatlantic mafia crackdown

Billed as an operation by police in the US and Sicily to prevent the latest attempt to reforge close ties between the Sicilian and US mafias. Article from the Guardian so may be more in the US Press shortly.

BBC article here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7233477.stm
includes links to previous stories.

New York Times piece here; http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/08/nyregion/08mob.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin
sees sweep as aimed at Gambino family. Different spin to British press. Sees Sicilan arrests as minor and considers Gambino family to have close ties to Sicilian Mafia. Gives an account of the activities that Mafia involved in and says Gambino family one of 5 Mafia families in New York

07 February 2008

Homeland Security Privacy Report

The continuing top-down approach to terrorism and organised crime involves invasion of citizen privacy. In the US, the Chief Privacy Officer has to prepare an "a report to Congress on an annual basis on activities of the Department that affect privacy, including complaints of privacy violations, implementation of the Privacy Act of 1974, internal controls, and other matters."
Getting the reports out annually has proved to be like pulling teeth!

06 February 2008

Spies' Battleground Turns Virtual

And there was me being tongue in cheek in the previous post...Although as the article goes on it is suggested that security services are exaggerating the threat because they hate the idea of a virtual world that they can't control.
Still, they say pornography provided the push for an amazing amount of Internet software development, so if people need a new way to move money, why not virtual hawala banking?

Technological Innovation and Drug-smuggling

There's research to be done on technological innovation and organised crime. Here's a Washington Post article on "submersibles" that can transport cocaine considerable distances underwater.
Todd Sandler years ago wrote a piece in APSR trying to calculate how long it took terrorists to adapt to technological changes introduced by security forces. This raises similar challenges for organised crime. Maybe the Camorra will be first to the moon in an effort to dispose of garbage!

Stockholm Criminology Symposium 2008

Dates and call for papers. Registration now open

05 February 2008

More big dinners for the experts

To add to Europol and Eurojust, a forum of national experts to clear up problems pertaining to differences in Member States criminal law and European criminal law. Europert?

What happened to the Corpus Juris?

Studies in Ethics Law and Technology

There should eventually be some articles of interest to SGOC members in this, although the first issue is all about human enhancement. You can add it to your RSS feeds. The first comment tells you how to enable an RSS feed for this blog too.

Glasgow gang levels match London

BBC article includes link to a report by the "Right-leaning" [their words] Centre for Social Justice. These are teenage gangs rather than Scottish McMafias.

04 February 2008

A Tiny Staff Tracking People Across the Globe

It says that scholars send their students to this journal. It apparently researches migration patterns. Probably has implications for People smuggling and trafficking

Tax Scheme Blamed for Damage to Artefacts

Talk about serendipity! Lord Renfrew would be pleased to see this entry in the blog. He always felt that economic crime analysts paid too little attention to art and artefact smuggling. The theme of the article here is that the nature of the US tax system produces a particular system of looting of low value objects for donation to museums at a higher value to save tax payment. I think I understand it.
But it raises the same issues as the previous post. If you dont risk profile your legal measures, you can unwittingly invent a crime. [Discuss]
Its a serious final year exam paper we are writing this morning!

France said to sugest new controls for its banks

I was wondering when the French would get around to this. I dont think the Societe Generale disaster can be called organised crime, but it does demonstrate a failure of mechanisms of fraud prevention and opens another area for researchers, namely the relationship between crime and business and the consequences of the mechanisms now in place within the banking system to alert the authorities to "suspicious transactions". The state has coopted the banks in its search for "terrorists" and organised criminality, yet the banks' response remains one of box-ticking rather than cultural change.
But do we want a world where bankers are police officers? Sounds like a finals question...

Al Qaeda Commander Moved Freely in Pakistan

This article in the Washington Post raises questions related to the previous post about Venezuela. Our understanding of networks and their relations with states is very primitive. Equally our understanding of sub-state actors leaves a great deal to be desired. There are several PhDs to be carried out in these areas.

03 February 2008

Chavez and FARC

Article that is part of a common genre: all opponents of the USA deal drugs. No real evidence, just a series of allegations by defectors and anonymous "diplomats". Nevertheless, this is a proper subject for research, as it raises issues about the relationship between organised crime, the state and "terrorists", insurgents and liberation movements.
Are liberation movements as likely to be penetrated by organised crime as state structures? How do the networks interact?
Does the fact that one group of border guards takes bribes from drug traffickers mean that the whole Venezuelan Army is corrupt?
Equally, if a local FARC commander facilitates drug smuggling does that imply connivance from the organisation as a whole?
These are legitimate questions to raise, but the evidence presented here doesn't really answer them. I suppose its fine for journalists to be used by propagandists, but can an investigative academic researcher provide a theoretical framework and a series of empirical tests against which these questions can be objectively explored? or does it always depend on who finances the research?

02 February 2008

Child traffickers? What child-traffickers?

Child trafficking story of last week dissipates into thin air....allegedly!

01 February 2008

Of course you have nothing to fear if you are innocent

End of a long saga? No, I suspect it will be the start of a new one. OLAF, the European anti-fraud office really doesnt like being criticised. So I won't!

The albatross hanging over Gazprom's fate

Continuing coverage by Moscow Times of Mogilevich, Gazprom and RosUkrEnergo. What's all this got to do with organised crime? Well, it provides glimpses into the murky world of silovki, oligarchs and crime groups in Russia, and also into the battle between oligarch groups in the Ukraine which link to the political parties and factions within them. Sadly, only glimpses, though.