Transnational Organized Crime
Due to the international dimension of organized crime, which allows these networks to operate across sovereign borders, no one country defending alone against them can be assured international and homeland security or safety from terrorist organizations with criminal links. Organized crime groups are involved in an eclectic array of activities ranging from trafficking in human beings, to the illegal sales of weapons, narcotics, and nuclear material, and in money laundering to hide the proceeds from these illicit industries. The study of transnational crime identifies and explores these activities and the political, social and economic transformations that have facilitated them. Understanding the range of instruments and policy responses available to governments and law enforcement agencies, acting individually and collectively, is essential towards efforts to effectively contain transnational criminal activity, contain and fight corruption, and disrupt or dismantle transnational criminal organizations.
TraCCC is very active in its response to the needs of national and international security practitioners and policymakers regarding transnational crime. TraCCC’s 2000 Annual Conference addressed how information technology both enables transnational criminal activity as well as how law enforcement can harness information technology to address illicit activities. In Fall 2001, TraCCC organized a conference under the sponsorship of the McCormick Tribune Foundation entitled Transnational Crime and Peacekeeping: Comparative Perspectives that addressed these issues through the context of the Balkan region and Colombia. Both conferences were interdisciplinary and included various points of view from U.S. and international experts. Reports are available for both conferences. Finally TraCCC maintains an active presence in major studies and commissions studying security issues such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear threats from terrorists, illegal weapons export, identity fraud and transnational crime as a security threat.
In 2005, Dr. Louise Shelley, Dr. Sally Stoecker, Dr. Beatrix Siman Zakhari, and Olga Pishulina presented a panel discussion in promotion of their book, Human Traffic and Transnational Crime: Eurasian and American Perspectives (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005). The event was held in the Butler Board Room on the American University Main Campus.Human Traffic and Transnational Crime, brings together TraCCC-sponsored American, Ukrainian and Russian scholars to provide the first in-depth, scholarly study of human trafficking in and from Russia and Ukraine. Using case materials, interviews and field research they address the motivations, perceptions and reactions to this contemporary form of human slavery in their countries.
TraCCC’s Spring Speaker Series features presentations by experts on several topics of pressing concern in the fields of transnational crime and terrorism studies. In 2007, Professor Jan Van Dijk, Pieter van Vollenhoven professor in victimology and human security at Tilburg University, The Netherlands, and former officer in charge of the United Nations Crime Prevention Centre in Vienna, spoke at TraCCC about his work on international crime. He specifically discussed his work on Mafia Markers, which will be published as World of Crime: Breaking the Silence on Problems of Crime, Justice and Development in 2007 by SAGE Publishers. These markers are presented as the quantified and correlated relationships between various indices of organized crime, police performance, rule of law, and corruption.
In 2009, TraCCC focused on transnational crime by hosting events. In April, guest speaker, David Luna, Director for the Anti-Crime Programs at the Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) Affairs in the US Department of State, was invited to have a discussion largely focused on thematic threat convergence issues and the United States’ recent diplomatic efforts to combat transnational threats and dismantling threat networks. Later that year, the center held a larger conference entitled, “US Policy on Transnational Crime” which consisted of 4 panels discussing Drug Trafficking: Mexico and US Policy; Human Smuggling and Trafficking; Why Countering Counterfeiting and Diversion Deserve More Policy Attention; and Countering Transnational Crime.
In the Fall of 2010, TraCCC’s initiatives on transnational crime turned more academic as Dr. Louise Shelley taught her course, Transnational Crime, and associate professor, Dr. Kim Thachuk, taught her course on Transnational Security Threats. TraCCC also had a visiting scholar from the Ukraine, Yulia Zabyelina, a doctoral student at the School of International Studies and Transnational Crime Center at the University of Trento in Italy. While at TraCCC, Zabyelina collected data related to criminal cases and policy papers with respect to the fight of the United States against transnational crime.
TraCCC made a collective effort in 2011 on researching and sharing information on transnational crime with a new publication in the Routledge series, many articles quoting Dr. Louise Shelley, informative events, and hosting a visiting scholar from Thailand. Adding to the Transnational crime and Corruption Routledge series, Human Security, Transnational Crime, and Human Trafficking was published. The book fills a gap in the current literature by examining transnational crime, human trafficking and its implications for human security from both Western and Asian perspectives. Throughout July, Dr. Louise Shelley was quoted in several articles discussing President Obamas new strategy to combat transnational crime. The articles include: “Obama’s plan against transnational crime sparks concern“, “Agencies unite against transnational crime” and “Obama: Target Transnational Gangs.” TraCCC also hosted a panel of Visting Scholars from the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institute to discuss, “Asian Perspectives on Transnational Crime and Human Trafficking.” Furthermore, Tienporn Vongkamhangharn, Thai Prosecutor from the Office of the Attorney General, came as a visiting scholar to research Human Trafficking in Sex and Forced Labor as Transnational Organized Crime: Learning from the US Perspective.