“Combating the Growing Threat of International Organized Crime”

Summary:  On rare occasions speeches by public officials deserve attention.  This is one, describing the growing danger of international criminal organizations.  For more on the geopolitical implications of this, see John Robb’s Global Guerillas website, or read his book Brave New War.  Hat tip on this to Simon Hunt Strategic Services.

Combating the Growing Threat of International Organized Crime“, speech by United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey,  given at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  Excerpt:

Perhaps we are victims of our own success because it seems that there is a widespread belief around the country that organized crime is no longer a serious threat. Most Americans think of organized crime only as a part of America’s past, its modern role merely the subject of popular movies or television dramas. I can assure you that organized crime is different in source and different in scope, but unfortunately this phenomenon, in a different institutional costume, is alive and well.

That is why, earlier this year, the Organized Crime Council met for the first time in 15 years. It did so because the United States faces a new and more modern threat, from international organized crime. We can’t ignore criminal syndicates in other countries on the naïve assumption that they are a danger only in their homeland, whether it is located in Eurasia, Africa, or anywhere else.

International organized crime poses a greater challenge to law enforcement than did the traditional mafia in many respects. And the geographical source of the threat is not the only difference. The degree of sophistication is also markedly different, markedly higher. Some of the most significant international organized criminals are also infiltrating our own strategic industries and those of our allies, are providing logistical support to terrorist organizations and foreign intelligence agencies, and are capable of creating havoc in our economic infrastructure. These international criminals pose real natural security threats to this country.

Here I would like to pause long enough to make explicit an important distinction between this national security threat and others that I and other people involved in law enforcement, intelligence gathering, and national defense have spoken of frequently. International organized criminals are not motivated by ideology; they are motivated by the same thing that has motivated traditional organized criminals over history: money.

International organized crime is a hybrid criminal problem that implicates three of the department’s national priorities: national security, violent crime, and public corruption.

… In the past, we understood the basics of international organized crime and some of the ways it threatens the United States, but we lacked an overall perspective on how the pieces fit together. Therefore, the department and other federal agencies recently conducted a comprehensive review and assessment of international organized crime.

  1. First, we learned that organized crime, in addition to being as varied and as dangerous as ever, has a remarkable ability to adapt to changing conditions. As a result, the challenge we face with the new breed of organized criminals is quite different from the one we faced a generation or two ago. They are more sophisticated; they are richer; they have greater influence over government and political institutions worldwide; and they are savvier about using the latest technology first to perpetrate and then to cover up their crimes. …
  2. A second threat we identified was the logistical and other support that organized crime provides to terrorists, foreign intelligence services, and foreign governments that may be targeting the United States or otherwise acting against our interests. …
  3. Another set of recent cases highlights yet a third threat – from international organized criminals who smuggle and traffic people and contraband into the country. …
  4. Another threat involves the ways organized crime exploits the U.S. and international financial systems to move illegal funds. …
  5. Yet another threat is the way international organized criminals use cyberspace to target U.S. victims and infrastructure. …
  6. Other threats identified in our assessment include manipulation of securities markets, corrupting public officials globally, using violence as a basis for power.

… So what are we doing about it?

The remainder of the speech answers that question.  The transcript is worth reading.

Please share your comments by posting below, brief and relevant, please.  Too long comments will be edited down.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

3 thoughts on ““Combating the Growing Threat of International Organized Crime”

  1. Forget terrorists. Organised Crime is a huge issue, some argue the ‘Shadow Govt’.

    I use that term with some thought. I take drug use as an example. Now there was a time (pre Margaret Thatcher) when you could go to a doctor, say you were a heroin addict and then get prescribed heroin. Advantages, less users dying, more could cope and deal with their addiction with the income from a normal job (rather than having to work in criminality to support their habit), ortganised crime could not get a look in the UK as the profits were .. zero. Now look at the UK, same issues as the US, wow that really worked, using the US model.

    Advantages to the wider community of the socialisation approach, less crime (of all types), huge savings of money (far cheaper than sending users to prison) and less corruption.

    Now, if I was a smart drug lord (and they can hire the best experts in the world) then I would pour money into the anti-drug politicians, because (the market rules) that makes me more money. My real enemy is someone who wants to socialise and medicalise drug problems.

    Conclusion (backed up what has happened in Afghahistan) is that drug money is a major factor in US and other countries decision making. Simply by the politicians who want to (say) create an old UK system will not get all that money . So their opponents, who get this money will win (through cut-outs of course, so it can’t be traced or be seen as illegal).

    The market wins, though not exactly in the way that some people think. The ‘illegal’ drug industry needs it to be illegal for them to make a quid! Oh yes there WERE deals with the CIA, et al.

    Just as the oil and coal indutries pay for their lobbyists to push their line, organised crime (largely funded by drug money) push, albeit subtely, their agenda .. and they have high contacts in the US (and other countries of course).

  2. I should add, because I’m doing a project that can’t be talked about (not national security nonsense stuff), from my analysis, there is a HUGE amount of crime about.

    And when then, (say) financial authorities say they can’t track criminal money transfers (e.g tax avidance, insider trading, various criminal activities, et al), then they are wrong ..

    Because I can (given the data of course).

  3. Organized crime is alive and well in the United States. They operate by owning legal companies but they are uo to their old tricks. You can spot them by how the operate in the business world.

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