This pioneering study looks across key trafficking crimes to develop a social theory of transnational criminal markets. These include human trafficking, drug dealing, and black markets in wildlife, diamonds, guns and antiquities,
The author offers an in-depth analysis of structural similarities and differences within illicit trade networks, and explores the economic underpinnings which drive global trafficking.
Revealing how traffickers think of their illegal enterprises as ‘just business’, he draws broader lessons for the ways forward in understanding criminality in this emerging field.
This chapter addresses drug trafficking in four sections: the nature and extent of the harm; the structure of drug trafficking (considered in terms of source, transit and market); regulation and control; and finally a discussion about drug trafficking as illicit business. Major drug types and supply routes are reviewed, to illustrate the scale of the problem regionally and globally. The usual routines of drug trafficking are discussed, including production, wholesale, kingpins and mules, and street-level dealing. The well-known challenges of interdiction are noted, amounting to the observed failure of the ‘war on drugs’. Finally, we look at empirical evidence that drug trafficking is considered by its protagonists in terms of business enterprise, and the ways this distances them from the harm it causes.
This chapter addresses wildlife trafficking in four sections: the nature and extent of the harm; the structure of wildlife trafficking (considered in terms of source, transit and market); regulation and control; and finally a discussion about wildlife trafficking as business enterprise. Common structures and routines of wildlife trafficking are reviewed, including links between conventional and illicit trade, the networks that join up poachers, traffickers and the marketplace, and tensions between international conservation norms and the values of local populations. The CITES convention is considered along with its critics. In terms of theory, it is noted that wildlife trafficking falls within the topic interest of both green criminologists and organised crime scholars, which can lead to a variety of theoretical approaches to the subject matter. As with other chapters in the book, the final section looks to sources that reveal first-hand or interview accounts of how traffickers think about their activities, and makes the case for framing wildlife trafficking as business enterprise.
This chapter addresses diamond trafficking in four sections: the nature and extent of the harm; the structure of diamond trafficking (considered in terms of source, transit and demand); regulation and control; and finally a discussion about diamond trafficking as illicit business enterprise. The controversy around conflict diamonds is reviewed, along with the routines of mining, trafficking, refining and the marketplace. The changing nature of the international diamond market is noted, and the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme is discussed along with its critics. In the final section, we consider the symbolic nature of diamonds and the ideological work that has gone into creating this symbolism. Reports from brokers and traffickers in the diamond market are referred to in support of the proposition that diamond trafficking is framed by participants as ‘just business’.
This chapter addresses arms trafficking in four sections: the nature and extent of the harm; the structure of arms trafficking (considered in terms of source, transit and demand); regulation and control; and finally a discussion about arms trafficking as business enterprise. The various routines and usual patterns of arms trafficking are reviewed, including vulnerable stockpiles, markets in military weapons, state involvement, and large-scale trafficking, as well as consumer markets and small-time smuggling. The structure of arms trafficking networks is considered, looking at facilitators and brokers as well as the central players such as notorious high-level traffickers like Viktor Bout. Regulation and prosecution is shown to be challenging, with various factors inherent to this form of trafficking adding up to severe difficulties for those who aim to control the problem. As with other chapters, the final section works through the business aspects of arms trafficking, integrating emotional and cultural considerations into the cold economics of the crime, to give us a rounded view of the supply and demand dynamics in markets for illegal weapons.
This chapter addresses antiquities trafficking in four sections: the nature and extent of the harm; the structure of antiquities trafficking (considered in terms of source, transit and demand); regulation and control; and finally a discussion about antiquities trafficking as business enterprise. The historical and economic harm of antiquities trafficking is explained, and the market is examined as grey, in that looted objects are fed into legitimate supply chains in the public marketplace. The structure and main players in the antiquities market are discussed, including looters, dealers, collectors, auction houses and museums. Current systems of regulation include international treaties, domestic property and criminal laws, self-regulatory codes, and campaigns that focus on public awareness. The final section of the chapter details the techniques of neutralisation and processes of denial that characterise the way ‘business talk’ permeates the antiquities market, providing a narrative structure of justification and excuse of harmful behaviour that focuses on the benefits of international trade, private property ownership, and entrepreneurial dealing.
This chapter begins by recounting common themes across global trafficking markets, and considering the evidence for links and overlaps between them, using three parameters: geographical; transit; and exchange of one trafficked commodity for another. Then we revisit the spectrum of enterprise concept that has been a central thread of analysis of each trafficking market throughout the book. Trafficking is discussed as a form of illicit commodification, as objects and people are transformed into things that can be bought and sold. Commodification is a central feature of contemporary market society, and it encourages an objectification of the things and people being trafficked, which come to be seen merely as items that can be exploited by business-minded entrepreneurs willing to break the law. Through these processes of commodification and exploitation, trafficking is seen as a systematic feature of globalised neoliberal economy and society. The illegal part of the spectrum of enterprise turns a mirror on modern society and economy that highlights some of the worst features of capitalist life: including a business orientation that is systematically indifferent to harmful effects.
What is transnational crime, and what is trafficking? This chapter reviews prior literature on the main issues informing these questions, including informal economy, criminal markets, organised crime, ‘the underworld’, and the theory of the spectrum of enterprise. It is the latter that serves as a touchstone concept, linking illicit enterprise to legal business and bringing the theoretical tools of white-collar crime thinkers into the same analytical pool as those of organised crime theorists. Doing so, we come to see that the idea of business enterprise in its contemporary context can drive criminal market activities as well as legal markets. We review aspects of relevant social theory including ideas of globalisation, indifference, the banality of evil, and psychological writing on ‘compartmentalisation’, to develop a distinctively criminological approach to understanding the social drivers and facilitators of trafficking.
This chapter addresses human trafficking in four sections: the nature and extent of the harm; the structure of human trafficking (considered in terms of source, transit and market); regulation and control; and finally a discussion about human trafficking as illicit business. The definitions and common types of human trafficking are reviewed, along with observations on how human trafficking occurs, including drivers, structures and routines. Interview studies with human traffickers are considered in the final section. The first-hand testimonies of traffickers are used to further develop the overall theoretical premise of the book: that when thinking and talking about trafficking, including human trafficking, participants use a framework of illicit business enterprise that has rationalising, neutralising and compartmentalising effects for them.