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The Balkans’ organized crime is affecting many countries not only in Europe but also in North America. The United States is one of their biggest markets for those who are dealing with drug trafficking and other contraband goods while Europe is the major market for human traffickers (Arsovska, 2015). The victims of these organized crimes are innocent citizens. It is important to come up with strategies that can help in combating this problem. Dealing with organized crime is not easy. These groups are deeply entrenched in the security systems of many countries that it becomes almost impossible to crack them down. They have financial and military power. They use the ‘carrot and stick’ strategy to ensure that they are always a step ahead of the authorities trying to track them down. They bribe top security officials or those specifically assigned the task to track them down.
These cartels always have the right information through these corrupt officials who not only help them to cover their tracks but also enable them to inform them when the government is trying to lay a trap for them. For the officers who refuse to participate, these criminals have a hit squad that is used to kill them before they can become a major problem to these criminal groups. Some of them have links to the highest offices in some governments because they finance campaigns that put those top government officials into office. As such, the government of the United States, while fighting Balkans’ organized crime, must understand that it is dealing with a very complex problem that needs dedication, time, commitment, and above all a sophisticated intelligence-gathering system that can be used to collect information about the operations of these groups. In this paper, the researcher will look at how drug trafficking, human trafficking, and trade in contraband goods can be combated through effective intelligence assessment system.
According to Abadinsky (2016), drug trafficking is one of the biggest problems that the United States’ government is faced with currently. Walton (2010) once described drug trafficking as a near-immortal animal that grows a new head whenever its head is chopped off. It just does not disappear despite the effort that the government has put in to eliminate it. In the 1990s, the United States government successfully arrested and jailed top drug lords from Columbia and other nations around the world. Some of them were killed during the operations because it was almost impossible to arrest them. They had their own armies fully equipped and the only way of reaching their boss was to engage in a fierce exchange of fire. Arsovska (2015) says that most of the drug trafficking gangs have a military wing that is responsible for eliminating any threat that cannot be destroyed using drug money. The past experiences have clearly demonstrated that the best way of fighting these criminal gangs is to improve strategies used in intelligence gathering.
Fighting the Balkans’ organized drug traffickers requires a lot of patients, a highly talented team of officers, enough financial resources, and sophisticated communication technologies. The team must first appreciate the fact that some of the officers and political leaders in the foreign governments who are expected to fight this vice are actually protecting it because they benefit a lot from it. As Abadinsky (2016) says, the officers assigned to deal with this very dangerous problem must, therefore, trust nobody. This is so because it has been proven that whenever the investigative authorities share their plans with the authorities of the foreign governments, the targeted criminals often have a way of accessing such classified information, enabling them to act before they can be attacked. In most cases, they prefer killing the investigators as a way of thwarting the investigation and passing a warning to others who may want to investigate them in the future. As such, the investigative officers should act in secrecy and avoid making sudden moves that may alert the criminals in any way.
The primary aim of the intelligence assessment will not be to arrest these criminals but to understand their criminal web, how they operate, their strengths and weaknesses, their relationships with other criminal gangs, how their income flows into their hands and how they deliver their products to the market, the kind of security they get from various governments and security apparatus in various parts of the world. The United States government has succeeded before in uprooting some of the drug cartels that were very notorious in the recent past through effective intelligence gathering and assessment. One of the ways of doing this is to infiltrate these cartels in the same way they have infiltrated several governments around the world. Security agents can be instructed to join these groups. They can pretend to be former military or FBI officers who were unfairly dismissed from work and are willing to do everything to get back at the government. Arsovska (2015) states that these groups often value people with a security background, especially those who are currently struggling to earn a living.
These officers must be highly skilled and talented in everything that they do. They should also be aware that they are handling a very delicate and dangerous case that can easily result in their murder if they make the slightest mistake and reveal their cover. These officers should earn the trust of the top officials in these cartels and ensure that they monitor everything that takes place. Such operations can take several months and in some cases even years. At first, they can avoid any direct communication with their other officials. Through sophisticated telecommunication tools, they can always pass a message to the relevant authorities about their activities and events going on. As soon as they have gathered the information needed, then they should help in bringing such cartels down. In such operations, Kan (2012) advises that it may be necessary to capture all the top operatives and all their lieutenants as a way of ensuring that the group is completely eliminated. If possible, the identity of investigative authorities should never be revealed. They can be arrested alongside other members of such cartels, tried together with them, but sent to different prisons where they are soon released to help in further intelligence gathering.
Slave trade was once one of the most lucrative businesses in the world, but it was successfully brought to an end soon after the independence of the United States of America (Arsovska, 2015). However, a new trend is emerging in the modern society where humans are once again being considered a commodity of trade against their own wish. Criminal gangs are kidnapping and selling people in a black market for different reasons. A report by Mallory (2012) showed that prostitution is the primary reason why human trafficking is once again becoming popular in the modern society. Although several countries have not legalized prostitution, it is a fact that it is an activity that is going on in most parts of the world with full knowledge of the authorities. The increasing size of the middle class has increased the demand for entertainment services. The victims are always innocent girls who are lured to traps before being sold off to night clubs or brothels where they are forced to serve clients against their wish.
Gathering intelligence from cartels who engage in human trafficking may not be as challenging as handling drug cartels. Given that their primary commodities are people, they can easily be tracked, from the time they kidnap a victim, the means used in transporting these victims, and the final destination of their commodity. Destroying their market is also simpler than fighting the market for hard drugs. Officers can pose as victims, and with special chips implanted in them, the entire movement can be mapped to help in destroying these cartels.
Trade in Contraband Goods
Trade in contraband goods can also be combated effectively through effective intelligence collection and assessment. The problem is not as complex as that of drug trafficking, but it is still one of the Balkans’ organized crime that the government will need to fight to promote legal trade. In most of the cases, these contraband goods find their way into the country through our porous borders. The United States’ border with Mexico has particularly been blamed as the point where contraband goods find their way to the United States’ market. Several strategies have always been used such as border patrols and aerial surveillance to ensure that activities taking place at the country’s borders are closely monitored. This strategy should continue.
The aerial surveillance is very effective because these cartels will be monitored without their knowledge. Their track can be uncovered by studying how their sneak through the borders, the routes they take, and how they store their products before finally taking it to the market. The movements of such goods can be further tracked till such a time that it reaches the final consumer. In a report by Benedek (2010), some of the contraband goods sold in the United States is facilitated by leading retailers and suppliers who benefit a lot from the illegal business. Through such surveillance, it will be possible to determine the specific stores where these products are taken to once they pass through the borders. The owners of such chain stores may help the government with the investigations.
The Balkans’ organized crime is a major issue that the government of the United States has been trying to deal with in the recent past. These cartels are engaged in drug and human trafficking and trade in contraband goods. The government has been successful in reducing their activities in the country, but it has not been easy to eliminate this problem completely. It is important to come up with intelligence gathering and assessment techniques when fighting this group. Through this intelligence assessment approach, government agencies will be able to infiltrate these criminal gangs, understand their strategies, and come up with effective ways of uprooting them.
Abadinsky, H. (2016). Organized crime. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan Publishers.
Arsovska, J. (2015). Decoding Albanian organized crime: Culture, politics, and globalization. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons.
Benedek, W. (2010). Transnational terrorism, organized crime and peace-building: Human security in the Western Balkans. Basingstoke, U.K.: Palgrave Macmillan.
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Kan, P. R. (2012). Cartels at war: Mexico’s drug-fueled violence and the threat to U.S. national security. Washington, D.C: Potomac Books.
Mallory, S. L. (2012). Understanding organized crime. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Walton, T. R. (2010). Challenges in intelligence analysis: Lessons from 1300 BCE to the present. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.