Globalization and Organized Crime Research Paper

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Globalization and Organized Crime

Globalization has caused many changes in society. Telecommunications technology such as the internet allows for large amounts of data to be transmitted across vast distances. This has made information more accessible and long-distance communication virtually instantaneous. Such developments have changed the way companies do business and the way society operates.

The benefits of globalization have not been lost on organized crime groups. These organizations seek any advantage they can find in their competition with other organized crime groups as well as law enforcement. Their flexibility as informal, underground organizations means they are positioned to capitalize on developments in the economy.

Globalization has heightened and expanded the already large role that organized crime plays in the global economy. Organized crime organizations operate much like businesses, motivated by the same incentives. Just as legitimate multinational corporations have expanded global operations to capitalize on cheap labor, raw materials, and new markets, organized crime groups have also expanded their operations for these very reasons, among others.

Organized crime groups manage huge, profitable operations in human trafficking, migrant smuggling, heroin trafficking, cocaine trafficking, firearms trafficking, environmental resources trafficking, counterfeit goods trafficking, maritime piracy and cybercrime. (UNODC, 2010, p. vii). Globalization has helped to make these operations more efficient, more profitable, and more expansive.

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Thesis: The economic liberalization accompanying globalization has expanded the field of potential business opportunities for organized crime, opening up new markets, supply lines, and business opportunities. Additionally, advances in telecommunications technology have allowed criminal associations to coordinate operations from a number of different locations. Global governance mechanisms have not kept pace with these increasingly mobile organizations, and the worldwide organized crime problem will likely get worse before it gets better.

New Markets

Research Paper on Globalization and Organized Crime Assignment

Globalization has provided a number of new locations for organized crime ("OC") groups to set up familiar operations. It is usually the metropolitan-based groups that are the first to go overseas. In Japan, it was not the largest Yakuza group that set up shop overseas first but the Yakuza groups of Tokyo, the Inagawa-Kai in Hawaii and the Sumiyoshi-Kai in the Philippines. (Kaplan, 2003, p. 98). OC groups from developed countries, such as the Yakuza of Japan, take advantage of their stronger currencies to buy a foothold in new markets.

Extortion and Fraud

Certain illicit activities, such as extortion, can be done in almost any location as long as there is a vulnerable victim. For the Japanese Yakuzas committing extortion across various Asian countries, the victims were the multinational Japanese corporations which set up outsourcing operations. (Kaplan, p. 102). For the Italian-American Mafia members engaged in construction fraud in Montreal, this element was provided by public construction funds. (Cherry, 2011). Human Trafficking

Globalization has exacerbated the problem of human trafficking through increasing the economic gap between developed and undeveloped countries. Due to increasing global inequalities and restrictive immigration policies in developed countries, many workers from developing countries are desperate to gain access to more developed countries. (UNODC, 2010, p. 4). Many hopefuls turn to criminal networks who offer to smuggle them into a country for a fee. The workers often exhaust their life savings and often borrow money in order to pay for the "trip."

Firearms Trafficking

Firearms smuggling has benefited from access to many smaller, politically unstable states for firearms. This is immensely helpful to OCR groups in Eastern Europe, where the fall of the Soviet Union left many countries with a huge surplus of military-grade firearms. Before globalization, these groups did not know of or did not have access to the insurgent groups and paramilitary groups that would be interested in buying those firearms. Now, the Ukraine is shipping these firearms to states and groups in Africa, many of which are rogue states or embargoed states. (UNODC, 2010, p. 8-9).

Money Laundering

One of the most common activities OCR engage in is money laundering, where they take advantage of the gap in financial monitoring between different nations. Money laundering is particularly popular in weak states with poor financial monitoring capabilities. The lack of transparency and effective state monitoring in the banking systems of many Latin American and Caribbean nations left them particularly vulnerable to penetration by Russian money launderers. (Bagley, 2004, p. 35)

OCR groups, with their considerable financial clout, also take advantage of investment opportunities overseas. Despite the huge cash reserves they sit on, these groups often encounter difficulties investing such dirty money in their own country of origin. They are able to invest this dirty money in the legal economy of foreign countries through dummy corporations.

New Business Opportunities

Counterfeit Medicine

Globalization has enabled an especially dangerous type of criminal activity, counterfeit medicines. Because of cheaper labor costs, Asian countries such as India and China have become popular outsourcing destinations for pharmaceutical companies in Europe and the U.S. OC groups manufacture diluted formulations or outright dummy pills and re-label them for sale in poorer countries in South-East Asia and Africa. (UNODC, 2010, p. 10). When drugs are not of the potency or even of the type they are labeled to be, the results can be fatal for the consumer. Such deception can also have broader public health risks, as diluted medication can fuel the breeding of drug-resistant strains of pathogens. (UNODC, p. 11)

Counterfeit Goods

Globalization has also increased opportunities for organized crime in the trade of counterfeit goods. Much of the global economic growth in recent years has derived companies outsourcing their manufacturing operations to other countries with cheaper labor costs. Counterfeiters have taken advantage of outsourcing -- in which the designers and manufacturers of a product live on different continents.

OC groups take advantage of the large gap between the cost to produce consumer goods and their final market value. OC groups utilize their connections in source countries, such as the Triads in China, to produce counterfeit goods for shipment to Europe, where the goods are often designed and sold. (UNODC, 2010, p. 10). These counterfeit goods sometimes come from the same factories which produce the official goods, as the contracting manufacturer will sometimes produce extra units for sale out of the backdoor.


Globalization has created a reliance on technology in the business world that has increased the opportunities for cybercime. One popular activity for OC groups is identity theft. Credit-card information can be acquired from consumers through hacking secured computer systems, phishing information from unwitting consumers, and distributing malware programs that relay information from the host computer after installation.

OC groups pose a serious threat in the area of identify theft because they can mobilize large numbers of people to perform low-skill cybercrime attacks. It makes viable criminal strategies that are unprofitable to lone wolves due to the high failure rate. For example, even though most consumers are on guard against phishing schemes targeted at their credit-card information, these schemes remain profitable because the perpetrators need only succeed in locating one or two marks in millions of attempts. (UNODC, 2010, p. 204).

Natural Resources

Globalization has increased organized criminal activity in the field of natural resources crime. As global regulations protecting environmental resources grow, certain business activities have been made illegal. Specifically, businesses are banned from harvesting endangered natural resources and trading in environmentally harmful substances. Some businesses who have come to rely on such resources to these have been turning to the black market in order procure those resources.

Organized crime is stepping in to provide goods and services which are now prohibited by environmental regulations. These activities include dumping of hazardous waste for a fee, trading in ozone-depleting substances, and harvesting endangered natural resources. (UNODC, 2010, p. 149). These activities are becoming more profitable as demand increases as the above-market supply of such resources diminishes.

Globalization has expanded the scope of environmentally-harmful activities as OC groups find new sources of protected resources, often in countries with weaker environmental protection apparatus. OC groups obtain ivory and rhinoceros horn through poachers of endangered elephants and rhinoceroses in Africa. (UNODC, 2010, p. 9) Although many poachers have no contact organized crime, they sell their goods to local merchants who do. OC groups in Africa accumulate large amounts of illicit ivory and rhinoceros horn for shipment to Asia.

OC groups also engage in trade which is not absolutely prohibited, but highly regulated. Timber is an endangered natural resource in many parts of Southeast Asia and timber shipments to countries in East Asia and Europe often require paperwork demonstrating that they are sourced legally. OC groups will buy illegally-sourced timber from illegal logging gangs in the Philippines and also buy official paperwork from corrupt government officials to ensure their acceptance into destination countries. (UNODC, 2010, p. 10).

New Supply Sources and Supply Lines

Drug Smuggling

Drug smuggling, popular long before globalization, has been made more efficient through the addition of new transit hubs, often located in rogue states. Most cocaine is grown in the Andean region of South America and shipped to either the United States or Europe. However, direct shipments from Colombia to the United States are dangerous because of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Globalization and Organized Crime" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Globalization and Organized Crime.  (2011, November 28).  Retrieved March 3, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Globalization and Organized Crime."  28 November 2011.  Web.  3 March 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Globalization and Organized Crime."  November 28, 2011.  Accessed March 3, 2021.