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Gray Area Phenomena: The Changing Nature of Organized Crime and Terrorism

NCJ Number
CJ International Volume: 11 Issue: 2 Dated: (March-April 1995) Pages: 1,4,18
D Ward
Date Published
3 pages
The joining of narcotics trafficking and terrorism, the growing organized criminal network, and the emergence of street gangs as national threats all contribute to what has been loosely terms the gray area phenomenon, which involves an increasing network of criminal activities crossing traditional boundaries and merging previously separate offenses to achieve common goals.
The gray area phenomena include conflicts ranging from terrorism, insurgencies, and illegal drug trafficking to warlordism, militant fundamentalism, ethnic cleansing, and civil war to other transnational threats and consequences of instability. Although many activities of organized criminal groups remain the same as before, they have expanded their areas of operation, levels of cooperation, and criminal enterprises. The use of violence has become a major tactic, and the ability of law enforcement to combat what has become a global threat is limited. The western world has become the main target of organized crime, but many of the activities originate in regions such as eastern Europe, southeast Asia, South America, and, to a lesser degree, Africa and the Middle East. Jurisdictional issues, the lack of common legal principles, political and public apathy, and frequent interagency disputes hamper law enforcement. These problems are coupled with the changing role of the military and other organizations such as the Central Intelligence Agency. Although no multinational force exists with broad investigative powers, many countries have begun to develop reciprocal arrangements that make it possible for law enforcement officials in different countries to cooperate. Nevertheless, the gray area phenomena pose a real threat to everyone's safety and welfare. Map


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