Criminal groups and transnational illegal markets
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In the study of organised crime, thetraditional view of criminal groups ascentrally controlled organisations has beenreplaced by the notion of criminalnetworks. However, little use has been madeof concepts and theories of social networksthat have developed in other socialsciences. This paper uses concepts fromsocial network theory to describe andtentatively explain differences in socialorganisation between criminal groups thatperform three types of transnationalillegal activities: smuggling andlarge-scale heroine trading, trafficking inwomen, and trading stolen cars. Groups thatoperate in the large-scale heroin markettend to be close-knit, cohesive andethnically homogenous. Groups active in thetrafficking of women have a chain structure, while those that operate in themarket for stolen cars are characterised bythree clusters of offenders in a chain.Both groups are less cohesive than criminalgroups in the large-scale heroin marketare. The differences in social organisationbetween the three types of illegalactivities appear to be related to thelegal and financial risks associated withthe crimes in question, and thereby to therequired level of trust betweencollaborating criminals.
KeywordsHeroin International Relation Network Theory Chain Structure Financial Risk
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