12. How can transnational organized crime networks be stopped from becoming more powerful and sophis
Transnationalorganized crime continues to grow in the absence of a comprehensive, integratedglobal counter-strategy. Havocscope.com estimates world illicit trade to beover $1 trillion per year, with counterfeiting and piracy at $533 billion, theglobal drug trade at $322 billion, trade in environmental goods at $57 billion,human trafficking at $44 billion, consumer products at $60 billion, and weaponstrade at $10 billion. McAfee adds cybercrime at $105 billion. These figures donot include extortion or organized crime’s part of the $1 trillion in bribesthat the World Bank estimates is paid annually or its part of the estimated$1.5–6.5 trillion in laundered money. Hence the total income could be well over$2 trillion—about twice all the military budgets in the world. Governments canbe understood as a series of decision points, with some people in those pointsvulnerable to very large bribes. Decisions could be bought and sold likeheroin, making democracy an illusion.
The UNOffice on Drugs and Crime is giving priority to human trafficking, corruption,and reducing demand for drugs. There are more than 27 million people held inslavery today (the vast majority in Asia), far more than during the peak of theAfrican slave trade. UNICEF estimates that 1.2 million children are traffickedevery year. The online market in illegally obtained data and tools forcommitting data theft and other cybercrimes continue to grow. Computer transfersof $2 trillion per day make tempting targets for international cyber criminals.Prescription drug abuse exceeds the use of conventional illegal drugs in manyareas, and counterfeiting of these compounds brings additional revenue to TOC.
OECD’sFinancial Action Task Force has made 40 recommendations to counter moneylaundering, and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime has called for nationalintegrated strategies and created the Global Program against Money Laundering.Nevertheless, TOC continues to grow and has not surfaced on the world agenda inthe way that poverty, water, and global warming have. It is time for aninternational campaign by all sectors of society to develop a global consensusfor action against TOC, which has grown to the point where it is increasinglyinterfering with the ability of governments to act. The head of the UN Officeon Drugs and Crime has called on all states to develop a coherent strategy tocounter TOC as a whole, but effortsstill focus on pieces of the problem. INTERPOL’s 186 member countries can nowdirectly access the organization’s central database management system (I-link),speeding investigations and cooperation.
TwoConventions help bring some coherence to addressing TOC: the UN Conventionagainst Transnational Organized Crime, which came into force in 2003, and theCouncil of Europe’s Convention on Laundering, which came into force in May2008. Possibly an addition to one of these conventions or the InternationalCriminal Court could establish a financial prosecution system as a new body tocomplement the related organizations addressing various parts of TOC. Incooperation with these organizations, the new system would identify andestablish priorities on top criminals (defined by the amount of moneylaundered) to be prosecuted one at a time. It would prepare legal cases,identify suspects’ assets that can be frozen, establish the current location ofthe suspect, assess the local authorities’ ability to make an arrest, and sendthe case to one of a number of preselected courts. Such courts, like UNpeacekeeping forces, could be identified before being called into action andtrained, and then be ready for instant duty. When all these conditions are met,then all the orders would be executed at the same time to apprehend thecriminal, freeze access to the assets, open the court case, and then proceed tothe next TOC leader on the priority list. Prosecution would be outside theaccused’s country. Although extradition is accepted by the UN Conventionagainst Transnational Organized Crime, a new protocol would be necessary forcourts to be deputized like military forces for UN peacekeeping, via a lotterysystem among volunteer countries. After initial government funding, the systemwould receive its financial support from frozen assets of convicted criminalsrather than depending on government contributions for continued operations.
Challenge12 will be seriously addressed when money laundering and crime income sourcesdrop by 75% from their peak.
Africa: Links between African rebel factions, organizedcrime, and terrorism may be increasing. The number of AIDS orphans is expectedto grow to 20 million by 2010; with few legal means to make a living, theyconstitute a gigantic pool of new talent for the future of organized crime.Piracy along the coasts of Nigeria and Somalia is increasing and believed tofinance terrorist groups. Guinea-Bissau is now a major drug trafficking transitpoint in West Africa. Corruption has become a serious limit to growth in manycountries.
Asia and Oceania: ASEANAPOL (ASEAN’s Chiefs of Police) andINTERPOL are working on greater cooperation and have linked their databases,allowing ASEANAPOL databases to be run against information collected byINTERPOL. The Asian Organized Crime Project launched by INTERPOL is targetingAsian organized crime groups worldwide as complex adaptive networks. Asia hasthe largest number of slaves in the world. Singapore announced that decreasingorganized crime is now a top priority. The U.S. military is carrying out a$2.6-billion program for upgrading the Afghan police force.
Europe: The groundbreaking Council of Europe Convention onAction against Trafficking in Human Beings came into force in April 2008 as thefirst European treaty in this field. EU funds for Bulgaria may be withhelduntil it makes more progress fighting organized crime. As the Sicilian mafia ishit by high-level arrests, UNODC says the Albanian mafia is the most seriouscriminal organization in Europe, controlling heroin all over the continent; theCalabrian ‘Ndrangheta is also expanding its activities. The EU has strengthenedcontrols on money transfers across itsborders to address trafficking and money laundering, especially in EasternEurope. Norway has led the development of an international task force onillicit financial flows and their impact on development.
Latin America: Top Mexican government and police officialscontinue to be assassinated, 5% of the Mexican GDP is laundered, its drugcartels are moving into Peru (where coca output is up about 40%), and the levelof violence in the country is increasing, as President Calderon’s war on crimecontinues. UNODC says crime is the single largest issue impeding CentralAmerican stability. FARC computers revealed links with organized crime in allmajor regions of the world. The U.S.-supported Plan Colombia, lasting six yearsand costing almost $5 billion, has left cocaine availability, price, andquality unchanged. A serious public health problem has arisen in Argentina andBrazil from the smoking of paco, a cheap, adulterated, and toxic form ofcocaine residue.
NorthAmerica: The U.S. Department of Justice issued The Law Enforcement Strategy toCombat International Organized Crime, which establishes an investigation andprosecution framework that emphasizes priority areas of action againstinternational organized crime. Organized crime and its relationship toterrorism should be treated as anational security threat. Countries must be held accountable for corporationsthat are involved in criminal activities in their own and other countries. Asingle European/U.S. operation seized over 360,000 counterfeit integratedcircuits bearing over 40 different trademarks. Some 200,000 people areconsidered to live in slavery in the United States.