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

Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Criminal investigations in organized crime can take several years before they are completed. For this data sweep, we used investigations completed in the period 2011–2016 and two slightly ‘older’ cases (regarding important investigations that had not been analyzed in the earlier data sweeps). We would like to thank Geralda Odinot, Maite Verhoeven, Ronald Pool and Christianne de Poot for sharing five cases related to cybercrime (Odinot et al. 2017).

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Correspondence to E. Rutger Leukfeldt.

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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.

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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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Leukfeldt, E.R., Kleemans, E.R., Kruisbergen, E.W. et al. Criminal networks in a digitised world: on the nexus of borderless opportunities and local embeddedness. Trends Organ Crim 22, 324–345 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12117-019-09366-7

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Keywords

  • Organised crime
  • Cybercrime
  • Cryptomarket
  • Criminal network