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Literature review refers to the evaluation of previous works of various scholars, including theories and major concepts. In academic research, both theoretical and conceptual review of literature is usually undertaken to establish the views, opinions, thoughts, and believes of various scholars and theorists.
Revisiting the works of previous scholars is based on the idea that knowledge is cumulative meaning that a researcher will never come up with something new, but instead he or she aspires to contribute or make suggestions regarding a certain field. Transnational organized crime is one of the issues that have generated a heated debate among scholars regarding its existence and possible solutions.
The end of the Cold War presented various challenges to scholars of international relations, especially concerning the issue of security. The emergence of global organized crime is a new challenge facing many states after the end of Cold War and the threats posed by nuclear energy.
Transnational organized crime is always perceived as non-traditional threat to national security, even though it has gained relevance in the study of international relations1. States have been forced to cooperate just because of the threats that transnational organized criminals pose2.
In fact, some scholars observe accurately that the trend of transnational crime is worrying. Crime was previously studied in the fields of sociology, criminology, law, and psychology, but the extent at which it affects foreign relations in the international system has attracted international relations scholars.
This article conducts a critical review of literature, both theoretical and conceptual, to establish the extent at which transnational organized crime affects foreign politics. The paper identifies globalization as one of the cause of transnational organized crime.
The global market and the ease with which individuals could access foreign markets, have given criminals an advantage to interfere with the economies and peace of various states. Studies show that transnational criminals have developed sophisticated techniques and tools, which are used to frustrate various states and other actors in the international system.
Some scholars observe that the use of sadism, terrorism, extortion, and fraud are some of the techniques that this category of criminals uses to execute its heinous acts. A further analysis of literature shows that transnational crime poses a great challenge to the nation-state.
Conceptual Review of Literature
Various scholars define crime differently, but some aspects are eminent in a number of definitions. It is clear that organized crime gang is made up of individuals who understand each other very well. In other words, it does not entail a group of persons created by chance for the instantaneous commission of a particular offense. Truong is one of the scholars who tried to define organized crime, as it relates to transnational organized crime.
He observed that organized crime has three major features that make it different from other forms of crime3. In particular, he discusses the features of criminals, who engage in human trafficking, which is one of the types of transnational organized crimes. One of the features of human trafficking crime is that it is a group project, whose major aim is to achieve certain objectives.
For instance, such criminals might engage in a project that produces false identification certificates and counterfeit money. In this regard, these criminals will have to acquire certain skills that will help them in accomplishing their mission. Some scholars refer this as artisan work, which is undertaken within a certain social group.
The second feature of organized crime is the organizational aspect, which refers to subornment, dishonesty and swindling. In many cases, organizational aspect of crime is found in labour and other related occupational fields.
Finally, the above scholar notes that organized crime is a collective sort of crime meaning that large multinational corporations, family-owned businesses, and business networks with networks perpetuate it across continents.
These organizations have strong links with the leadership of various countries whereby they are influential civil servants and powerful politicians support them. In some occasions, these organizations might be engaged in both legal and illegal activities, which poses a great challenge to policy makers as far as identifying their trade routes is concerned.
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Bertone supported the works of Truong by suggesting some of the nature of global networks, which are responsible for the trafficking of women4. He observed that these networks have strong political and financial links that allow them to set up strong contacts between host countries and home countries. Moreover, these organizations are medium-sized networks whose major aim is to hijack women from one country only.
Surprisingly, these organizations do not hijack many women, but instead they simply abduct one or two women at a time to prevent any suspicion. Salt conducted a study, which established that many countries are yet to establish the exact number of people who are abducted within their state borders5.
Transnational organized criminals take advantage of this fact to smuggle women and children to various countries whereby they are usually taken through inhuman conditions, such as forcible rape, child labour, forced marriage and slavery. The study established further that countries rarely communicate regarding the presence of suspected citizens in their countries. This makes it difficult to deal with this menace.
Rosen conducted a study in 1998, which confirmed that the number of individuals entering Canada with the help of smugglers is too high6. Once in the country, such individuals claim they are refugees and they end up receiving certification since the study showed that 70 percent are usually successful.
A different study conducted by Taibly in Hungary proved that organized criminals are usually well coordinated by professionals, who are highly disciplined7.
Drug trafficking is the most lucrative business in the world, followed by human trafficking meaning that these category of criminals have financial capabilities that help them in realizing their dreams. Some studies focus on the relationship between women trafficking and social crime such as prostitution. Shannon is one of the scholars who have delved into this form of relationship8.
Her view is that women trafficking play an important role as far as the sex industry is concerned. The reviewed various sources of literature, including magazines and newspapers to determine the rate of women trafficking regionally. He review revealed that each region has its own from of women trafficking meaning that organized crime is a real issue in global politics.
A different study conducted by Caldwell, Galster, Kanics and Steinzor in 1999 confirmed the findings by Shannon. This study was commissioned by the Global Survival Network (GSN) to explore the main role of the Russian Mafia in smuggling unsuspecting female employees specifically for purposes of commercial sex.
The study found out that women have always been abducted from the former USSR to various parts of the world, including Asia, Europe, and the United States. In fact, the crime has been in the increase9. The above researchers interviewed various group of people, including Russian pimps, security agencies, and smugglers.
The findings of the study revealed that drug trafficking and abduction of women and children is always under the direct supervision of organized criminal groups, which have extensive connections with government officials and people with great influence in society.
Research conducted by O’Neill showed that transnational organized crime is not practiced in large-scale in the United States10. This shows that developing countries are the mainly affected. This does not mean that transnational organized crime does not take place in the United States.
In fact, owners of these illegal criminal groups are Americans, but they cannot practice it in their country because of the presence of developed institutions, such as the strong investigative agencies, strong police force, adequate resources to detect crime, and efficient judiciary.
In this regard, Richard commented that organized crime in the United States is not controlled by major crime syndicates, as is the case in other parts of the world, such as Russia and some parts of Africa.
This implies that countries with strong institutions tend to scare away transnational organized crime while those with weak institutions attract this type of crime. Official records from the Interpol shows no arrest of transnational criminals whatsoever in the United States.
Theoretical Review of Literature
Transnational crime has serious implications on a country’s economy, politics and social development. Before giving various theories that define the origin and the nature of transnational organized crime, some of the forms of global crime would be described briefly.
Drug trafficking, smuggling of weapons, trading in nuclear materials, forcible transfer of women and children, trafficking illegitimate aliens, carjacking and theft, smuggling body parts of various animals and machineries, money-laundering, evasion of taxes, and large-scale corruption, are some of the forms of organized transnational crime.
From the above list, it is true that globalization has played a critical role in facilitating global crime. For instance, the global production system raises demand for certain substances, which are produced in one country, but its consumption is high in a different country. Drugs are often produced in developing countries, but its consumers are in various developed countries.
When drug lords receive money, there is a high likelihood that they will launder this money. Since criminals would need people to help them in assembling body parts and re-selling them in foreign markets, the need for human trafficking arises. All these demand a network of highly trained individuals, with various cultural experiences.
Vock is one of the scholars who claim that transnational crime takes place to fulfil the labour needs. He attributes the rise of transnational organized crime to globalization meaning that theories of globalization can be used to explain the increasing cases of human trafficking, money laundering, drug trafficking, motor vehicle theft, and corruption11.
Taylor 145 presented a clear analytical framework regarding the emergence of transnational organized crime by suggesting that capitalism is to blame for the increasing cases of global crime12. In this regard, the world has experienced restructuring whereby people are shifting their capital or investments from places with expensive labour to places with cheap labour.
Moreover, labour management in developed and developing countries is changing, with part time employment increasingly embraced. In fact, some regions face serious problems regarding employment since the rates of unemployment are too high, which encourages individuals to engage in any form of work, as long as they get something to put in the table.
Apart from the issue of unemployment, the role of international organizations, such as World Bank and IMF is critical to the functioning of the state. The presence of powerful organizations in the global system has eroded the power of the state meaning that the state is losing sovereignty at an unprecedented rate.
Multinational organizations have displaced rural populations, which have affected the living standards of many people in villages. In some regions, these organizations have contributed in the reduction of wages while it has increased poverty levels in some regions. This increases the incentives to consumption while the funding of social programs have diminished. This gives rise to social crime, such as prostitution.
Review of Literature Shows that transnational organized crime is the new threat to various countries, both developed and developing. The threat posed by this form of crime is compared to the threats posed by the Cold War whereby nuclear energy was the major issue to a number of policy makers in the international system.
However, actors in the international system were able to sit down and resolve the nuclear energy issue since they were mutually assured of destruction. Transnational organized crime is different since states do not have specific techniques of handling it. Review of literature proves that women are the most vulnerable group since a number of transnational organizations target them.
Bertone, Andrea. “Sexual Trafficking in Women: International Political Economy and the Politics of Sex.” Gender Issues 18.1 (2000), 4-22.
Caldwell, Gillian, Galster, Steve, Kanics, Jyothi, and Steinzor, Nadia. Capitalizing on Transition Economies: The Role of the Russian Mafia in Trafficking Women for Forced Prostitution. Illegal Immigration and Commercial Sex. The New Slave Trade. London: Frank Cass Publishers, 1999.
O’Neill, Richard. International Trafficking in Women to the United States : A Contemporary Manifestation of Slavery and Organized Crime. Washington: Centre for the Study of Intelligence, 2000.
Rosen, Judith. The Lost Sisterhood: Prostitution in America, 1900-1918. London: John Hopkins University Press, 1982.
Salt, John. “Migration as a Business: The Case of Trafficking.” International Migration 35.4 (1997), 467-494.
Shannon, Sarah. “Prostitution and the Mafia: The Involvement of Organized Crime in the Global Economy.” Illegal Immigration and Commercial Sex 2.1 (1999), 119-144.
Taibly, Rebecca. “Organised Crime and People Smuggling/Trafficking to Australia.” Australian Institute of Criminology 208.2 (2001), 1-6.
Taylor, Ian. “Sex Trafficking and the Mainstream of Market Culture.” Crime, Law and Social Change 32.3 (1999), 257-278.
Truong, Thanh-Dam. “Human Trafficking and Organized Crime.” Institute of Social Studies, 2.339 (2001), 37-98
Van-Impe, Kristof. “People for Sale: The Need for a Multidisciplinary Approach to Human Trafficking.” International Migration 38.3 (2000), 113-130.
Vock, Judith. “The Promised Land: a Study of Trafficking in Women from Central and Eastern Europe to the Netherlands.” European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research 8.2 (2000), 379-388.
Walkowitz, Judith. Prostitution and Victorian Society : Women, Class, and the State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.
1Judith Walkowitz, Prostitution and Victorian Society: Women, Class, and the State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.
2Kristof Van-Impe, “People for Sale: The Need for a Multidisciplinary Approach to Human Trafficking,” International Migration 38.3 (2000), 130.
3Thanh-Dam Truong, “Human Trafficking and Organized Crime,” Institute of Social Studies, 2.339 (2001), 98
4Andrea Bertone,”Sexual Trafficking in Women: International Political Economy and the Politics of Sex”, Gender Issues 18.1 (2000), 7.
5John Salt, “Migration as a Business: The Case of Trafficking,” International Migration 35.4 (1997), 467
6Judith Rosen, The Lost Sisterhood: Prostitution in America, 1900-1918 (London: John Hopkins University Press, 1982).
7Rebecca Taibly, “Organised Crime and People Smuggling/Trafficking to Australia,” Australian Institute of Criminology 208.2 (2001), 6.
8Sarah Shannon, “Prostitution and the Mafia: The Involvement of Organized Crime in the Global Economy,” Illegal Immigration and Commercial Sex 2.1 (1999), 144.
9Gillian Caldwell, Steve Galster, Jyothi Kanics, and Nadia Steinzor, Capitalizing on Transition Economies : The Role of the Russian Mafia in Trafficking Women for Forced Prostitution. Illegal Immigration and Commercial Sex. The New Slave Trade (London: Frank Cass Publishers, 1999), 67.
10 Richard O’Neill, International Trafficking in Women to the United States: A Contemporary Manifestation of Slavery and Organized Crime (Washington: Centre for the Study of Intelligence, 2000), 18.
11Judith Vock, “The Promised Land: a Study of Trafficking in Women from Central and Eastern Europe to the Netherlands,” European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research 8.2 (2000), 388.
12Ian Taylor, “Sex Trafficking and the Mainstream of Market Culture,” Crime, Law and Social Change 32.3 (1999), 278.