31 January 2008

Police smash people-smuggling network

Fujian snakeheads at the start of the route and a Turkish group at the European end. There will be more on this story tomorrow, I suspect. Classic cross-border networks and people one of several commodities smuggled.

29 January 2008

More on Mogilevich and gas trade between Russia and Ukraine

Moscow Times article, carefully worded about the middlemen in the gas dealings between Moscow and Kiev. Watch this story develop. Previous blog entry on arrest of Mogilevich.

Journal of Financial Crime

The latest issue has arrived in my snailmail box. A couple of pieces catch the eye. Peter Gottschalk "Stages of Financial Crime by Business Organisations", which includes our old friend Klaus von Lampe in the bibliography [which is itself excellent] and must therefore be extremely kosher! Peter discusses the stages of growth in organised financial crime and is primarily conceptual in nature.
Luiz de Andrade Filho "The Dynamics of Drug-related Organised Crime and Corruption in Brazil from a Developmental Perspective" also looks worth a read. Again it raises questions of how criminal organisations themselves develop.

The one that got away?

Coverage of the Securitas robbery continues, much of it feverish. Like an innocent, I always thought that this sort of report was against the law, because it prejudices the right of the person named to a fair trial. Somewhere in the last 20 years that appears to have changed. Anyway, for what it is worth, this is another account from the BBC of the " mastermind" and the missing member of the gang.

It all sounds like a number of individuals recruited to carry out different roles in the robbery. Very late 50s early 60s.

28 January 2008

Five found guilty of £53 million robbery

Biggest robbery in UK history. BBC page has lots of links to other aspects of the case, including the money trail. Two of the five are Albanians, but there are still individuals who are wanted by the police. Some of the money is alleged to be in Northern Cyprus and Morocco.

Big cash robberies much less common than they used to be, it is argued because there are lower risk ways of stealing money...like fraud. The other recent cause celebre was the big robbery in Northern Ireland.

Yemen and US disagree on counter-jihadist strategy

Thought-provoking New York Times article. Frank Kitson's counter-insurgency strategy was always to try to turn captured insurgents to make them work against their old partners. US counter-terrorist strategists have always been into "punishment" as the only acceptable strategy.
Describes " al hiwar al fikri": an intellectual dialogue to deradicalise jihadists, with religious scholars arguing with them that Islam, properly understood does not condone terrorism. This approach has been taken up in many parts of the world. The article does not present the approach as a panacea, presents criticisms of it and discusses the emergence of a new generation of younger jihadists, less susceptible to the approach.
Well worth a read.

El Pais says that extremists plotted attacks across Europe

Well, I suppose we're learning that just because a paper or a politician says it, it isnt necessarily true. Nevertheless this CNN piece summarises all the allegations made against the people arrested in Barcelona last week. Read the piece and draw your own conclusions. Then go back to the post on the Romanian child traffickers from last week and note how the story there has already changed. This is an informant -based story.

27 January 2008

Latest on Dublin gang feuds

Interesting article on the interface between organised crime and paramilitaries, in this case the INLA. There will presumably be more in the Irish Press on Monday. "The Viper" v "the Whacker". Irish Times photo here: http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/breaking/2008/0127/breaking17.htm

Council of Europe criticises terrorist blacklisting procedures

Council of Europe attacks the procedures by which individuals and organisations are blacklisted, noting that there is no right to a hearing or an appeal and even if you can find a court that will take your case, you cant get off a blacklist anyway. Principles of natural justice and human rights do not appear to be relevant.

Direct link to the report:

25 January 2008

Mogilevich arrested

If youve never heard of Mogilevich then you havent been studying organised crime.
Here's Der Spiegel hinting that he controls Gazprom's partner RUE http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,394345,00.html
and here's the FBI wanted poster [nb, they spell it without the "y"]: http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/alert/mogilevich_s.htm
He has his own Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semion_Mogilevich
and here's a useful piece from the Village Voice:

Its a pity he's been arrested in Moscow, as the trial wont add to our knowledge, I suspect.

Police raid "Fagin gangs" of traffickers

Police raids on gangs trafficking Romanian children to become pickpockets in the West End. Sounds like a tabloid editor's dream. The court case should be worth waiting for. Possibly the most interesting thing to happen to Slough since John Betjeman wrote a poem about it.

The jihadist next door part 1

Jason Burke's investigation into "home grown" terrorism in the UK. On the net in two parts. His title was: "Omar was a normal British teenager who loved his little brother and Man Utd. So why at 24 did he plan to blow up a nightclub in central London?"

The article argues many things: the role of the radical mosque has been exaggerated; the average age of individuals is 29, older than commonly thought; and images from the mainstream media are as important as "terrorist propaganda " in radicalisation. Worth a read. Burke is European editor of the Observer and a respected journalist.

The jihadist next door part 2

Jason Burke discusses different types of candidates for radicalisation. This is the second half of the article, the title is taken from the cover of the original magazine, published last Sunday [20th January].

24 January 2008

Gun crime up, but overall crime down

Home Office quarterly figures out today as are British Crime Survey figures. I will add direct links to the two documents when I can find them. In the meantime the link is to a Guardian article.

Terrorism Probe Points to Reach of Web Networks

Washington Post article on a court case involving two young Muslims who took videos of sites in Washington, allegedly to prove they were worth further training to become fighters. Some information on internet contacts, but it may be early days in the trial. Basically an account of the Government's case against them and a little of their defence. Evidence will be given of alleged contacts with British extremists.

Real IRA suspect arrested in Lithuanian arms sting

This is a post for John MacFarlane down there in Australia. Guardian article, which has several details about the Real IRA. But why on earth are they trying to buy arms in Lithuania? I know its a Catholic country, but its time someone realised that Eastern Europe is a den of fraudsters and thick with undercover police. Still the beer is good, and if anyone would like to bring me a bottle of Dainava, we would be friends for life.

23 January 2008

Frattini on home-grown EU terrorists

Frattini is the EU security commissioner, apparently [what happened to "freedom, security and justice", by the way? Didn't take long for the important two to get dropped!] He appears to be announcing that the EU will follow the US in making entry more difficult.

Cyberterrorism: the use of the internet for terrorist purposes

New book from the Council of Europe.

Synopsis [taken from website]

Cyberterrorism and the misuse of Internet for terrorist purposes represents a serious threat, since many essential aspects of today’s society are completely dependent upon the functioning of computer systems and the Internet.

Further to the adoption by the Council of Europe of the Cybercrime Convention (2001) and the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism (2005), its Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER) has been studying this matter and surveying the situation in member states to evaluate whether existing legal instruments are sufficient to combat this emerging form of crime.

This publication contains an expert report prepared by the Max Planck Institute, which evaluates the main problems that arise in the context of cyberterrorism and provides recommendations, together with reports on the situation in the member and observer states of the Council of Europe and the relevant Council of Europe conventions.

Drugs-for-information scandal shakes up New York Police Narcotics Force

New York Times article on the relationship between police and informants. The case is ongoing, so, as usual, one has to be careful about a newspaper account. The allegation is that the officers used confiscated drugs to pay informants. There are questions about the quantities involved, as well as the supervision of the officers concerned.

More on drugs and violence in Mexico

Washington Post article, mostly on the Sinaloa cartel and its apparent move into Mexico City. The article alleges that hit men from the Pacific cartel have been found in safe houses of the Sinaola cartel along with huge arms caches. Real "state within a state" stuff.

22 January 2008

January issue of the Newsletter

The January issue of the Newsletter is available here (pdf) in a bright new format!

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...

21 January 2008

UK people smuggling network revealed

SOCA today revealed details of an important people smuggling network based in Leicester and involving India, South Africa and even Canada and the United States. The network had several different modus operandi. The revelations come at the end of a series of trials in Leicester Crown Court.

Call for papers

British-Irish Section of the European Group for the
Study of Deviance and Social Control

Capital, Culture, Power:
Criminalisation and Resistance

2-4 July, 2008, Liverpool

Call for Papers

The year 2008 marks Liverpool’s celebration of its status as European Capital of
Culture. In preparation, Liverpool has been undergoing a physical and cultural
regeneration. The centre of the City has been in many ways transformed as private capital
has poured in, overseen by a public-private coalition constituting a local growth machine
- one which has partly been constructed under the rubric of crime control and community
safety, and one which has also attempted, of course, to co-opt academics.

There are significant undersides to this regeneration and the culture it seeks to impose
- undersides which do not figure in the official celebration of 2008, but which need
exposing in 2008 more than any other year. Many parts of Liverpool remain, and will stay,
untouched by this ‘regeneration’. Much of the city and its surrounding areas remain
scarred by poverty, under-employment, and racism. On almost any official indicator of
‘deprivation’, areas in and around the City figure prominently in national
rankings. At the same time, whilst the marginalised are subjected to criminalisation, the
social and criminal justice supports for the victims of the crimes and harms of the
powerful either remain virtually non-existent or under threat. Much may have changed, but
how much has changed?

It is clear that the drive to commercialise the city in preparation for 2008 has produced
further, widespread victimisation - local residents moved on via compulsory purchase, the
homeless and socially marginalised intimidated out of the city centre (not least through
the strategy of criminalisation), small and ‘alternative’ businesses hounded out to
make way for the internationally recognised leisure and retail brands, and the
proliferation of social and physical harms to those who work and live in the City.

If the regeneration of the City has entrenched power differentials, so too will the form
of culture, and access to it, which will mark the year itself be a reflection of dominant
representations of the city. A key, unanswered question remains the ways in which, and the
extent to which, strident capital and its culture can and will be resisted.

This year, then, represents an opportune moment for social scientists and campaigners to
raise critical voices around the refashioning of this and other cities, whether under the
mantle of the Capital of Culture, as in Liverpool, or under some other hegemonic banner,
in ways which entrench and extend existing inequalities. To this end, the British-Irish
Section of the ‘European Group’ welcomes papers on a number of themes, including, but
not limited to, the following:

Ø The social impacts of ‘urban renewal’ and regeneration
Ø Capital-driven homogenisation and the commodification of ‘culture’
Ø Poverty and social marginalisation in the neo-liberal city
Ø Representations of, and official approaches to, urban crime
Ø ‘Community’ and crime control
Ø The criminalisation of political dissent and spectacles of ‘difference’ in the
Ø Local regulation of crimes of the powerful
Ø Migrant workers, casualisation and the urban labour market
Ø The control and colonisation of city spaces
Ø The legacies of slavery and imperialism upon urban crime control and social
Ø The conscription of social scientists into the local growth machine
Ø Governance and social regulation of 'race', 'age', 'gender', and ‘sexuality’
in urban contexts

Please submit abstracts of 100-200 words by Friday 4th April to any of the following, all
of whom can also be contacted for further details:

Roy Coleman roy.coleman@ liverpool.ac.uk
Lynn Hancock l.hancock@liverpool.ac.uk
Joe Sim j.sim@ljmu.ac.uk
Steve Tombs s.p.tombs@ljmu.ac.uk
Joe Yates j.yates1@ljDave Whyte david.whyte@liverpool.ac.uk

18 January 2008

More on data-sharing

Article from Washington Post on Department of Homeland Security's information sharing system and its problems. Previous post on European Union refers. Usual problems of vulnerability to hacking and lack of security as public and private partners become involved. Its worth looking at the Bichard Report and Bichard's follow-ups on implementation of his recommendations. Sharing intelligence is a tricky problem. Using the same system for multiple purposes with multiple users is not as simple as the software salesmen claim.

17 January 2008

Corporate Fraud Lawsuits Restricted

There may be legal issues involved in this Supreme Court decision that will affect some of the terrorist financing cases referred to obliquely in the previous entry. In particular cases where banks and other financial institutions are being sued for handling accounts that may or may not have been used by individuals or charities whose funds may have ended up in some way with individuals or groups allegedly involved in transferring funds to other individuals or groups who could be considered to have committed terrorist acts. AGain, watch this space. Might even be worth visiting the American Bar Association site. http://www.abanet.org/

Ex-Congressman indicted in Terrorism-Funding Case

This is a fascinating case which will bear close watching. A number of Islamic charities have been designated organisations that finance terrorism. It would be better to read the allegations in the Washington Post article than to repeat them here, because a quick read of the piece suggests some stretching of definitions as has occurred elsewhere in the prosecuton of Islamic charities. There is another case in Texas, at least part of which is being retried at present.The reader should work out the issues for her or himself.

16 January 2008

Cyberterrorist 007

Interesting piece on the use of the internet to recruit and organise , alleging that individual actions too can be organised via the internet, avoiding face to face encounters. This piece fits in with the general argument that both organised crime and terrorism have moved away from solid hierarchical structures to networks and now to individuals linked only by communication through various internet technologies.
Of course, there are those who long argued that hierarchical structures were mythical and that the President's Task Force on Organised crime in the late 1960s chose the wrong model. Indeed more recently, Petrus van Duyne and Klaus von Lampe have argued that cross-border smuggling networks are much more informal than both criminologists and investigators believed. This next step presents legal problems, especially in distinguishing innocent activity from criminal activity. For the moment, guilt is assumed and innocence has to be proved.
The piece also illustrates how the concept of "cyberterrorism" continues to develop

15 January 2008

FBI wants instant access to British identity data

OK, it's a Guardian article and suffers from all the problems pointed out by Ludo in his comment on the entry on the Prum treaty. The small print shows that this isn't specific to the UK-US relationship. But it does seem to be another attempt to evade judicial supervision of data exchange by designating "cyberspace" outside a single country's jurisdiction.
The FBI and other national police agencies have never been great believers in human rights. Nor in the rights of second country nationals, let alone third country ones.

13 January 2008

Review of book on Camorra

Sounds like a difficult read. Review is by the author of a book on the Sicilian Mafia. He does recommend it, but after much critical comment. Perhaps an SGOC reader could provide a review too?

11 January 2008

Corruption Helping New Fines Work

Moscow Times article explaining that the possibility of receiving a bribe makes it more likely that the traffic police will enforce the law. You have to read it for yourself!

08 January 2008

New AIC paper on law enforcement responses to trafficking in persons

Fiona David's new paper in the Australian Institute of Criminology's Trends and Issues series on "Law enforcement responses to trafficking in persons: challenges and emerging good practice". Bit of an executive summary, but there's an agenda for PhD students to think about and a useful bibliography. Well worth a read...It will leave you hungry for more!

FBI claims violent crime down in US

Usual lazy piece of journalistic reporting which doesn't tell readers how data recorded and whether any changes have been made in what is recorded. Nor does the journalist tell us whether there is agreement from victim surveys. At least we are told that no absolute numbers have been given: only percentages. A link to the full report is available at: http://www.fbi.gov/page2/jan08/ucr_statistics010708.html
To give the FBI its due, the press release includes the following disclaimer:
"Because of the complexities involved, the FBI makes no attempt to interpret the data, which we leave to criminologists and sociologists. And, as always, we caution against ranking or comparing crime rates in cities from year to year, which do not account for the many variables that impact the volume and scope of crime in specific locations."
Now someone somewhere probably discusses this in their blog. It would be great if SGOC members started their own discussion by commenting on the figures in this blog.

06 January 2008

Florencia 13 gang members indicted in Los Angeles

A very confused article about a Los Angeles gang called Florencia 13 in the Washington Post, the central part of which looks like a prosecutor's department press release. George Tita,a criminologist, is quoted towards the end of the piece denying the central theme of racially motivated violence between gangs. The case has presumably still to come to court. 102 people charged. Someone will already be writing the book.

05 January 2008

Changing Dutch policy on brothels

A Dutch Court upholds Amsterdam City Council's case that the Yab Yum Club was taken over by Hells Angels and that the Council had the right to close it. This follows a decision in September 2007 to close one third of the "windows" in the red light district http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7005768.stm
Lots of links from the BBC articles, but mostly to newspaper articles.

Swedish policy against "customers" of prostitutes

There will be a great deal of coverage of Swedish policy as the UK considers adopting a similar approach. This Guardian article skates over many of the issues that require research. It will be a bit like Dutch drug policy! Any links to proper evaluation research will be gratefully accepted. Trafficking gets a passing mention.