At present organized crime networks are transforming into transnational networks operating in different countries. It goes without saying that globalization has contributed greatly into this process.
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The development of technology has brought new opportunities for criminal networks to achieve their goals without paying much attention to any boundaries. These transnational organized crime networks have much in common with other type of violent non-state actors (VNSAs), terroristic groups. Of course, there are certain differences.
In the first place, it is necessary to identify what transnational organized crime network is. Basically, the difference between traditional organized crime and transnational organized crime networks is insignificant in essence, but considerable in the sphere of influence.
Thus, “organized crime group” is defined as a group consisting of 3 or more individuals which exists for some time and is “acting in concert with the aim of committing one or more serious crimes or offences…in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit.” (Finckenauer & Chin 2006, 8).
The transnational organized crime networks can be characterized in the same way but these groups are acting in two or more countries.
Admittedly, transnational crime networks are being developed from traditional ones. Globalization has made this process much easier since at present all these organizations can communicate using the latest devices. Such communication availability enables these groups to co-ordinate their activities and be one step ahead.
In fact, numerous organized crime networks have been using “technology as a force multiplier to carry out their entrepreneurial activities with greater efficiency at lower cost” (Williams 81).
It is important to note that transnational organized crime organizations can threaten any country. More so, these organizations usually threaten several countries. As far as the threats to the US are concerned, in-depth research has been implemented. For instance, Asian organized crime networks which transformed into transnational networks threaten the USA by human smuggling (Finckenauer & Chin 2006, 31).
Apart from this intellectual property safety is also threatened by these groups. Many other organizations worldwide are involved in narcotic and weapon trafficking, and these activities are serious threats for the United States.
Admittedly, the country has to resist numerous transnational and traditional organized crime networks. Apart from this terroristic groups threaten the safety of Americans as well. Basically, terroristic groups are usually well-organized and may resemble organized crime networks. Both types of VNSAs can have a complicated hierarchy.
However, there is a major difference between these actors. Thus, organized crime networks focus on financial benefits, whereas terroristic groups are more concerned with fighting the system.
The former use acts of violence in order to get profits, secure their positions, etc. However, terroristic groups’ major aim is violence and chaos in the society targeted. This major difference leads to several other peculiarities.
Thus, organized crime networks tend to operate secretly without attracting any attention (from government, officials or public). On the contrary, terroristic groups try to attract as much attention to their actions as possible.
Organized crime networks recruit people quite secretly. In other words, the organization is a kind of “elite” club where every member plays certain role. Whereas, numerous terroristic groups try to attract as many people as possible. For instance, on the Internet there are sites which “incite individual acts of violence and terrorism against Western regimes”, these sites’ visitors can be taught to create bombs as well (Kramer et al. 2009, 264).
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In conclusion, it is possible to state that numerous traditional organized crime networks transform into transnational organizations which operate on the global scale. This has become possible and even quite easy due to the development of technology and globalization.
At present there are three major threats which many countries face: the two types of organized crime networks and terroristic organization which have a lot in common, but also have certain peculiarities.
Finckenauer, James O., and Ko-lin Chin. 2004. “Asian Transnational Organized Crime and Its Impact on the United States: Developing a Transnational Crime Research Agenda.” The National Institute of Justice (March), https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/213310.pdf .
Kramer, Franklin D., Stuart H. Starr, and Larry K. Wentz, Eds. 2009. Cyberpower and National Security. Washington, DC: National Defense University Press.
Williams, Phil. 2001. Transnational Criminal Networks. In Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime and Militancy, ed. John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt, 61-97. Santa Monica: RAND National Defense Research Institute.