Researching Transnational Crime Concept Paper


Learner: Christopher A Nissen


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RSH9104E Activity 8

Concept Paper 1.0

Mentor Quintin Robinson Faculty Use Only

Dr. Robinson

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Table of Contents

Introduction. 2

Problem Statement. 3

Purpose Statement. 5

Background. 6

Research Questions. 6

Research Method. 8

Instrument. 9

Variables. 10

Definition of Key Terms. 10

Ethical issues. 13

Data Analysis. 13

Literature Review.. 13

Impact. 17

Summary and Conclusion. 17


Transnational crimes cross Statenational borders. Offenders may act independently or in various levels of a given organization (Williams & Godson, 2002). Today’s open borders, modern transportation, and expanding technology all contribute to the ease and speed that criminals are able to cross nationalState borders (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006). These crimes include the smuggling and distribution of legal, illegal, and counterfeit narcotics,; human trafficking;, child pornography;, money laundering;, and public corruption (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006; Beare, 1997; Small & Taylor, 2006; Dowling, Moreton, & Wright, 2007).

Transnational crimes haves been a threat throughout history., Dduring the past century, the nature of theose crimes has varied. In addition, well as their frequency and sizemagnitude of the crimes committed has grown (Williams & Godson, 2002). Factors that most significantly impact the expansion of transnational crime include the increasing number and heterogeneity of immigrants, globalization of the economy, and improved technology (National Institute of Justice, 1999). Organized criminals are increasingly proving to be more agile than governmental agencies. (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006). Democratic governments require a consensus amongof leaders and citizens when setting priorities and allocating funds (Broude & Teichman, 2009). Although these activities take time and planning, they are not always successful (Broude & Teichman, 2009). In contrast, criminals are agile and act in order to advance their own interest and not the interestsat of society (Beare, 1997). The agility of the criminal enterprises makes it difficult to anticipate their actions, making them a constantntinuous threat to society (Williams & Godson, 2002). One of the reasons whythat criminal organizations and individualscriminals are able to proliferate into society is the reluctance of communities to even recognize the threat posedresented to society (Mackenzie, 2007).

The literature to a large extent documents 20th and 21st century have documented efforts that the federal governments hasve undertaken to combat transnational crime (Dowling, Moreton, & Wright, 2007; Williams & Godson, 2002). However, literature is limited when it comes to efforts on the part of state and local governmentsto deal with such crimes (Small & Taylor, 2006). In order to better understand the issue of tTransnational cCrime issue, it is important to understand four critical aspects that affect itcomponents:

·         Awareness: How isare the community leaders as well thend law enforcement agenciesleaders in the Unitted States of America aware of the growing threat from transnational criminals?

·         Technology: How does the advent of the webCyber Space contribute to the expansion of transnational crime?

·         Education: How actively are community leadersy and law enforcement leaders educatingagencies educating their employees and the community on criminal activity trends?

·         Impact: Can proactive outreach programs, that are directed at community leadership and members affect the rate of transnational crime in that community?

Problem Statement

September 11, 2001 forced Americans, to reevaluate their priorities as related to crime, terrorism, and the economy (Broude & Teichman, 2009; Runge, 2008).  So serious is was this issue that President George W. Bush created the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Bush, 2002). The Department of Homeland Security has evaluated events and trends since its inception; and through itstheir largest investigative arm identified and prioritized the threats that need the most attention during now:. These are Pprevention of  Tterrorism and aAnticipatione of Ssecurity; pProtection of the borders against illicit trade, travel and finance; pProtection of  Bborders through smart and tough interior immigration enforcement; and construction of an efficient and, effective agency to combat transnational crime (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2010).  While the Department of Homeland Security is still new, the desire to anticipate and curb crime is not new.  If societiesy examines various underlying indicators, they may be able to proactively counteract criminal activitiesy in their midstcommunity (Williams & Godson, 2002).

In Los Angeles the one community discovered that when they work together they couldan eradicate crime, and maintain their historical culture to pass on to their children. (Sandoval, 2007). In Canada leaders found that working with non-governmental organizations such as the Job Corps and Head Sstart thethen they couldan make communities safer while better educating young people (John Howard Society of Alberta, 1995). In the early 19th century some government officials became enamored by the popularity of mob bosses and in their distraction crime flourished (Beare, 1997; Williams & Godson, 2002).  In the early part of the 20th century, America was distracted by two world wars. During this time criminal organizations such as the Chinese Vvice-lords in New York and the Mafia in Chicago, flourished (McIllwain, Organized crime: A social network approach, 1999).

Thanks to 21st century technology, family, friends, neighbors and even enemies are now onlymerely a click away (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006). This unprecedented connectivity is providing endless possibilities and opportunities at extraordinary speeds (CITATIO). History has shown that criminals will leverage opportunities to proliferate their enterprises through a variety of techniques (Beare, 1997). Technology will likely continue to be exploited by criminals and their organizations (Broude & Teichman, 2009).

While modern technology helps individuals and corporations to become better connected and more productive, it also helps criminal organizations to operate on a larger and broader scale (Foltz, 2008). Law enforcement managers must collaborate their intelligence gathering and physical resources to enhance their own capabilities (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2009). Otherwise they will prove unsuccessful at reversing the growth of criminal organizations (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006). Through partnerships, law enforcement can disrupt communication and cash flow utilized by criminals. Jurisdictions can target and prosecute criminal organizations working in various domestic and foreign organizations (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2009).

Budgetary and resource constraints generally require law enforcement agencies to react to criminal activitiesy (Schneider & Schneider, 2008).  Communities must learn from history by reviewing where crime has flourished and where crime faltered or even receded (Beare, 1997; Turner & Gelles, 2003). These same communities must also understand that transnational crime includes many aspects of criminal activity, violence, financial, commodities, narcotics, and human trafficking. Transnational crime does not necessarily originate with immigrants, but rather with people with individualistic and philosophic ambitions (International Association of Chiefs of Police, 2007). When communities recognize the origins of crime, they put themselves in a gain a better positionopportunity to adeal with the thwart crime (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2009).

With law enforcement agenciesleaders committed to their communities, they are continually seeking better ways to educate their officers and leadership on current trends (Friedrichs, 2007). America’s southwest and Caribbean coastal states have long faced increasing threats from transnational crime (Small & Taylor, 2006). Law enforcement agencies in those states have an understanding of the threat they face and of effective strategies in the fight against crime (McIllwain, Organized crime: A social network approach, 1999).

Purpose Statement

This study will evaluate the views of community and law enforcement leaders along with criminal trends they observe. It will describe both passive and proactive efforts used to curb crime.  Trends identified will help leaders deter organized transnational criminals from taking root or expanding to new communities.

This paper will describe three common causes of transnational crime in America and explain how community and law enforcement leaders can enact preventative and corrective action against these types of criminal activities.


As the United States developed into a world power, so did America’s problems with organized crime (McIllwain, Organized crime: A social network approach, 1999). Modern transportation and technology enhanced and accelerated the country’s legal and criminal growth (Williams & Godson, 2002; Shelly & Picarelli, 2002). Researchers have studied the expansion of transnational crime during the 20th century under the unprecedented growth of the United States (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006; McIllwain, Organized crime: A social network approach, 1999; Sandoval, 2007). The 21st century finds America in an economic slump while fighting a multi-front war (McIllwain, Border security: Infrastructue, technology and the human element, part II, 2007). In 1999 the state of California examined the events that led to a decrease in overall crime in order to predict future trends (Marowitz, 2000). Such evaluations can aid in evaluating the successes and failures of the past and proactively work to combat further expansion of transnational crime (Beare, 1997).

Research Questions

1)           How are community and law enforcement leaders in America aware of the growing threat from transnational criminals? Hypothesis: Law enforcement leaders will have a better awareness and understanding of transnational threats if their community is situated near the southwest border or a major metropolitan area. Thesis Statement: Southwest border areas are more prone to human and commodity trafficking than are other areas of the United States (McIllwain, Border security: Infrastructue, technology and the human element, part II, 2007). Leaders will have a better awareness of transnational threats when their community is situated near the southwest border or a major metropolitan area (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006). Despite the good intentions of many Mexican officials, Mexico is an improvised country and its authorities are susceptible to indifference and bribery (Smith, 2000).

2)           Technology: How does the advent of cyberspace contribute to the expansion of transnational crime? Hypothesis: Community and law enforcement leaders must take an active interest in technology as a tool that can be used to expand and combat transnational crime. Thesis Statement: Cyberspace has certainly contributed to the globalization of criminal activity and facilitated transnational crime (Foltz, 2008). This has brought about significant changes in the way criminologists combat crime (Friedrichs, 2007). The openness of technology eases the mobility of information between countries and communities. It both hinders and helps curb the expansion of criminal activity (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006).

3)           How actively are community and law enforcement leaders educating their employees and community on criminal activity trends? Hypothesis: Community and law enforcement leaders are committed to the communities they serve and actively seek out ways to educate their officers, community leaders and citizens. Thesis Statement: Community and law enforcement leaders are vested in the communities they serve and seek ways to keep the community safe ( (International Associaton of Chiefs of Police, 2008-2009). Communities near the southwest border as well as in major metropolitan areas are better prepared to combat transnational crime due to the volume of crime in those areas (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006).

4)           Impact: Can proactive outreach programs, directed at community leadership and members, thwart and restrict the rate of transnational crime in that community? Hypothesis: Communities that provide proactive education to their constituenciesy will have lower rates of transnational crime and will be better placedable to curb existing casesinstances of transnational crime. Thesis Statement: Although the interests of community and law enforcement leaders remain vested in their communities, transnational crime can still flourish. Communities that proactively educate their communities have better opportunities to prevent and even reverse specific types of criminal activitiesy (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2009). Communities that provide proactive education to their constituenciesy will have lower rates of transnational crime and will be better placedable to curb existing instances of transnational crime (Sandoval, 2007). Education is a key step to understanding the situation and its effects. Once individuals and communities begin to understand a threat and its origin, those communities are then better prepared to counter those threats (Sandoval, 2007).

Research Method

This study will utilize a mMixed mMethod approach., tThis approach allows for a larger sample of data to be collected efficiently through a survey with validations of those results done through personal interviews. (Alrek & Settle, 2004). The quantitative survey will employ the Likert scale in a series of questions directed at law enforcement community leaders.  Depth and perception will be added to the survey by using a convenient sample of leaders from the law enforcement community.  Convenience sampling is a recognized research approach and appropriate when clarity is needed for scientific research (Booth, Colomb, & Williams, 2008).  Those surveyed will be conveniently sampled to obtain a cross-section of various sized jurisdictions at various distances from the southwest border and metropolitan areas. A constant comparison of data will be conducted to determine if a theoretical saturation data threshold is reached.


This study will include a survey instrument which incorporates the Likert sScale. The Likert sScale, is the most commonly used survey method and is recognizable to survey participants. The Likert sScale allows researchers to readily analyze and manipulate data (Alrek & Settle, 2004). The study seeks to gather information from a large community population and law enforcement leaders. The survey portion of the research is likely to result in more responses when the questions are clearly understood and can be easily and quickly responded to (Alrek & Settle, 2004).

Community and law enforcement leaders are responsible forto prioritizinge, budginge and allocatinge community resources based on a variety of criteria (Small & Taylor, 2006).  Their positions of trust require that they understand their communities’ needs in order meet those needs. While surveys can be completed quickly from large populations, it is through the useprocess of interviews that depth is added to the research process (Alrek & Settle, 2004). Obtaining accurate information from authoritative sources ensures the reliability of the study ( (Booth, Colomb, & Williams, 2008; Williams & Godson, 2002).


Dependant: Dependant variables include changes to foreign populations during the past ten years, changes in actual and/or perceived crime rates, changes in languages commonly spoken in the community, and expansion of the internet to the community.

Independent: Independent variables include affiliation to a law enforcement agency as well as the size, location and jurisdiction of the community.

Definition of Key Terms

Transnational Ccrime can consist of a variety of criminal activities threatening society (Reichel, 2005).  Such threats have become so large that the specific terms have evolved allowing researchers, governments, and law enforcement agencies to maintain a common understanding of the threat (Department of Homeland Security, 2009).  Those terms include:

Commercial sex act:. A sexual act induced by force, fraud or coercion, or a sexual act where the person induced to perform the act has not attained eighteen years of age. Among these acts are prostitution, stripping, pornography, and escort services (Crouse, 2010).

Organized Crime:.  A criminal organization can be broken into three types of groups: The “Big Six” International Criminal Organizations; Italian Criminal Enterprises, The Russian Mafiya, Japanese Yakuza, Chinese Triads, Colombian Drug Cartels, The Mexican Federation; smaller highly organized groups that work under the auspices of the Big Six, similarly to how a franchisee works for a parent company; and terrorist groups thate use contraband, narcotics, and smuggling to fiancé political objectives (Richards, 1999).

Extremism:. Extremism is a behavior that significantly deviates from the norms of society where style and tactics can be more important thant the goals.  Extremists are often labeled by moderate society because of their radicalized beliefs and activities, or tending to be on the extreme fringe of an ideology. (George & Wilcox, 1992)

Human Trafficking:. Human trafficking involves deception, where the victim is forced or coerced into labor, commercial sex, or other moral deterioration of the individual (Shirk & Webber, 2004).

Human Smuggling.: Human Smuggling is a surreptitious act of crossing individuals from one country to another.  Human smuggling organizations are financially driven and run like a business.  The organizations are typically not concerned with the identity of the clients thus making them susceptible to use by terrorists, criminals, and possibly their contraband (Lanzante, 2009).

Hacktivism:.  At the turn of the century, the term hacktivism was a nuisance form of protestation akin to sit-ins and rallies (Neeley, 2000).  Hacktivism is now considered a serious criminal threat in cyberspace, one that easily transcends international borders (Maghaireh, 2008).

Involuntary servitude.: A victim of Human Trafficking enslaved in a variety of occupations such as the sex trade, apparel manufacturing, agriculture and other types of services.  These victims are often unrecognized when coming into contact with government officials and intimidated into seclusion because of constant surveillance or seclusion from public view. (Clarke, 2009)

RICO.: The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1970. Initially intended to prosecute the Mafia and others engaged in organized crime, Congress mandated that RICO “be liberally construed to effectuate its remedial purposes” (Franklin, Schorr, & Shapiro, 2008).  RICO is used in both criminal and civil contexts and presented to state and federal courts.  A successful RICO case will prove that the defendant committed two or more acts of racketeering, established an interest in the enterprise, and affected interstate or foreign commerce.  Some examples relate to securities fraud, controlled narcotics and bankruptcy (Franklin, Schorr, & Shapiro, 2008).

Tertiary Targeting. Plans or attacks against parties with indirect links to the primary target of an organized campaign. Tertiary targets can include employees, customers, investors, and other participants in a company which provides support or does business with the primary target; or parties who offer direct financial, logistic, or physical support to the secondary target (Department of Homeland Security, 2009).

The Mann Act.: 18 USC Section 241, aA law passed by Congress in 1910, the White Slave Traffic Act (Sixty-First Congress of the United States, 1910) expanded to include prohibiton of the transportation of women and girls for immoral and other purposes.  The law was revised in 1978 making it unlawful to sexually exploit children (Burns, 2005).  A 1986 revision to it added protection for adult males (Burns, 2005; Department of Homeland Security, 2009).

Threat assessment:. A threat assessment is a risk management process used to evaluate the behaviors of two intertwined components to determine risk factors in violence prediction.  Both the possibility of an existing threat must be evaluated and actions must be taken to manage to contain/reduce the threat.  Each of these components must be continually evaluated and reassessed as organizational environments change over prolonged periods (Turner & Gelles, 2003).

Ethical issues

The researcher is a law enforcement officer with over twenty-five years experience in a wide variety of settings. The researcher has investigated a broad scope of cases ranging minor local infractions to major transnational crimes. The researcher will not conceal his own association to the law enforcement community. Historian Michael Frish determined “personal disclosure may have less effect than one might imagine” (Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2008, p. 461).

Data Analysis

The questionnaire will seek to understand historical, current and future criminal trends.  Data collected will be analyzed descriptively using both Cross tabulation and frequencies to explore the ratio of responses.  Cross tabulation allows the research to compare dependant and independent variables (Norušis, 2010).  Additionally responses will be compared to identify groups and trends through cluster analysis. Cluster analysis is useful in the identification of patterns and making predictions (Norušis, 2010).  Statistical data will be analyzed using SPSS. Narrative data will be subjectively evaluated by the researcher.  Qualitative data is based on qualitative judgment as numbers themselves cannot be interpreted without understanding assumptions that underlie them (Trochim & P., 2008)

Literature Review

Crime exists in virtually every society (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006; Schneider & Schneider, 2008). Most criminals have little regard for a country’s’ borders, and modern technology helps facilitate their ability to transcend those borders (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006).  In the 1960’s and 1970’s, most theorists examined crime without first clearly defining its variations. However in the late 20th century, researchers began to reexamine the nature and organization of crime and the influence that corruption has on its growth (Beare, 1997).

Although many community leaders are aware that criminals are living in their midst, they may not be aware of how transnational crime is embedded within the local level (McIllwain, Organized crime: A social network approach, 1999). In one Los Angeles community crime became such a serious issue that the community had the reputation of a dangerous jungle (Sandoval, 2007). The fFederal government is aware of the impact that transnational crime can have on a local community. Under initiatives such as Operation Community Shield, federal agencies can partner with state and local communities to combat transnational crime (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2009).

Communities across the United States are subject to victimization (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006). Southwest border areas are more prone to human and commodity trafficking than are other areas of the United States (McIllwain, Border security: Infrastructue, technology and the human element, part II, 2007; Schneider & Schneider, 2008). Leaders within these areas must be morebetter aware of transnational threats when their community is situated near the southwest border or a major metropolitan area (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006). Despite the good intentions of many Mexican officials, Mexico is an improvised country, and its authorities susceptible to indifference and bribery (Smith, 2000).

As researchers begin to more thoroughly understand the nature of crime more thoroughly, they must also examine how cyberspace is contributing to the exponential reach of individuals and the expansion of criminal organizations (Foltz, 2008). Unlike organized and individual criminals, law enforcement agencies must follow rules and regulations on how they conduct investigations, includingeven in cyberspace (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006). Fortunately cyberspace also provides criminologists the opportunity to collaborate in new ways to share ideas and, objectives, and to jointly target criminal activities (Friedrichs, 2007).

Because community leaders desire the greatest good for their communities, they actively seek ways to keep the population safe (International Association of Chiefs of Police, 2007). One way through which leaders can keep their communitiesy safe is to educate citizens and law enforcement officers of potential threats (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2009). In the 1990’s Los Angeles’ McArthur Park was held by street gangs from Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Community and law enforcement leaders banded together and pushed the criminals back. With the criminal element removed, McArthur Park stabilized and improved while maintaining the unique Mesoamerican culture (Sandoval, 2007).

Community leaders should develop an anthropological understanding of how crime develops and even flourishes (International Associaton of Chiefs of Police, 2008-2009). Criminalization explores how local governments, the media, and citizens define groups and the related consequences. Activities and situations such as rebellion, radicalism, and poverty are examples. An ethnographic approach would examine the more loosely organized and predatory activities such as street gangs, smuggling, street violence, and thievery (Schneider & Schneider, 2008).

Unfortunately, street crimes are sometimes committed openly and violently (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006). Community members become more aware of crime through eyewitness reports, media coverage, and sometimes historical accounts of the event (McIllwain, Organized crime: A social network approach, 1999; Schneider & Schneider, 2008). Some criminals, such as James Colosimo, may also be in leadership positions within the community. In 1920, Colosimo (a Chicago crime boss) was honored by politicians, law enforcement leaders and even judges (McIllwain, Organized crime: A social network approach, 1999). Such reverence to criminals is not limited to the 1920’s. Researchers have examined similar events throughout the 20th century. They have repeatedly found examples that span a variety of domestic and international crimes (McIllwain, Organized crime: A social network approach, 1999). Another reputed crime boss was Tom Lee. Lee was recognized as the unofficial “Mayor” of New York’s Chinatown. An immigrant himself, he rose to prominence and became a leader of some of New York’s legitimate and non-legitimate business ventures (McIllwain, Organized crime: A social network approach, 1999).

Community and law enforcement leaders, as well as public servants and community citizens, need specific education that goes beyond obvious street level violations (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2009). When communities learn to identify the environment in which organized and transnational crime flourishes, it may then be possible for them to anticipate and thereby curb the crimes (Williams & Godson, 2002). Signs of a pending problem include tagging by street gangs (Sandoval, 2007), human trafficking for labor and sexual slavery (Dowling, Moreton, & Wright, 2007), child pornography received in the privacy of one’s home (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2009), illegal importations of narcotics (Reichel, 2005), and the distribution of counterfeit merchandise (Brock, De Anda, Rummel, Rummel, & Calderon, 2006). Beyond these crimes is the modern threat of terrorism from the likes of al-Qaeda which has issued a fatwa, permitting the use of weapons of mass destruction and the killing of millions of people (Runge, 2008).


When communities understand a problem, they can then proactively band together and push criminals out (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 2009). This impact goes beyond street violence. It includes severe sentences for violators of cyber crimes, such as the distribution of fake drugs, identity theft and money laundering (Foltz, 2008), sexual trafficking (Hodge, 2008) and labor exploitation (Dowling, Moreton, & Wright, 2007). However, crime is pervasive and criminals cannot be easily deterred. Community’s leaders know that punishing criminals and pushing criminal activity out of the community is not an easy task. Communities in the United States and around the world must closely monitor the movement of criminals and organizations (McIllwain, Organized crime: A social network approach, 1999). When crime is suppressed in one community, it often moves to another. Fortunately many leaders continue to push back against crime (Passas, 2007).

Summary and Conclusion

Modern technology is facilitating the exponential reach of criminals across the globe (Foltz, 2008). Another contributing factor involves the heterogeneity of immigrants (National Institute of Justice, 1999). The agility of criminal enterprises makes it difficult to anticipate and thwart their actions (Williams & Godson, 2002). Communities can recognize the threats presented posed and take measures to prevent them from affecting the community ( (John Howard Society of Alberta, 1995). This is provinges increasingly difficult as crime is becomesing more agile than society or governments are (Williams & Godson, 2002).

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