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Using strangers for money: a discussion on money-launderers in organized crime

Abstract

In a recent study of Malm and Bichler (Trends in Organized Crime 16:365–381, 2013) it was found that very little professional laundering occurs in illicit markets. That is to be expected because not every criminal will make enough money to have a need for the services of professional money launderers. However, it is less clear to what extent the same outcome applies to those criminals who do make a lot of criminal money. In order to find out, 31 case studies were examined that deal with large scale importation of cocaine in Europe. It appears that professionals are often engaged, as almost half of the files indicate the presence of such specialists. However, that doesn't imply that such specialists are absent in the other half of the files. After examination of the investigative strategy of each police investigation, it turns out that there is a strong correlation between a focus on financial matters at the beginning of an investigation and the finding of professional launderers. This has important implications for the use of Social Network Analysis and qualitative case file research. The nonappearance of certain types of people in the police investigations has as much to do with the investigative strategy as with their real absence.

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Notes

  1. Unger et al. mentions they identified 18 different definitions (Unger et al. 2006).

  2. van Duyne (2003, p. 94). Based on this article, Malm & Bichler put the percentage of professional laundering at 1 % instead of 3,8 % (2013). It is possible they divided the number of arrests by the number of financial facilitators, which would give this lower percentage. The text however, isn’t clear on these matters.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Mike Levi (Cardiff University), Peter Reuter (University of Maryland) and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. Any errors or mistakes that may remain in this article, are of course my own responsibility.

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Correspondence to M. R. J. Soudijn.

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Soudijn, M.R.J. Using strangers for money: a discussion on money-launderers in organized crime. Trends Organ Crim 17, 199–217 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12117-014-9217-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12117-014-9217-9

Keywords

  • AML
  • Money laundering
  • Organized crime
  • Social Network Analysis (SNA)