Criminal networks in a digitised world: on the nexus of borderless opportunities and local embeddedness

  • E. Rutger LeukfeldtEmail author
  • Edward R. Kleemans
  • Edwin W. Kruisbergen
  • Robert A. Roks


This article presents the results of empirical analyses of the use of information technology (IT) by organized crime groups. In particular, it explores how the use of IT affects the processes of origin and growth of criminal networks. The empirical data presented in this article consist of 30 large scale criminal investigations into organized crime, including traditional organized crime, traditional organized crime in which IT is an innovative element, low tech cybercrimes and high tech cybercrimes. Networks involved in cybercrimes or traditional crimes with an innovative IT element can be characterized as a mixture of old school criminals that have a long criminal career, and a limited number of technically skilled members. Furthermore, almost all cases have a local dimension. Also the cybercrime cases. Dutch sellers of drugs on online marketplace, for example, mainly work for customers in the Netherlands and surrounding countries.


Organised crime Cybercrime Cryptomarket Criminal network 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

E. Rutger Leukfeldt declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Edward R. Kleemans declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Edwin W. Kruisbergen declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Robert A. Roks declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors. For the analysis of criminal investigations, permission has been granted by the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR) and The Hague University of Applied SciencesAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Scientific Research and Documentation CentreDutch Ministry of Justice and SecurityDen HaagThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Erasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands

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