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Organized Crime in Africa

NCJ Number
J S E Opolot
Date Published
125 pages
This monograph presents an overview of organized crime on the African continent, discusses the types of offenses, and examines the historical and economic trends that favor organized crime.
As African nations have developed economically, the crime rate has risen. Organized crime has mainly involved smuggling, poaching, profiteering, racketeering, tax evasion, and illegal digging of valuable minerals. Organized crime is usually carried out by 'shady' businessmen closely connected with criminal activities and highly placed public officials who abuse their positions. Other criminal operators' activities extend to highway robbery, illegal immigration, and drug trafficking. Less sophisticated than the European and American organized crime structure, African organized crime is characterized by relatively loose groups of the same or mixed nationalities working alone or in concert with public officials who primarily smuggle and illegally sell goods and livestock. Conditions in Africa that contribute to organized criminal activity are the frequent outbreak of wars, political instability, the introduction of a money economy to replace a barter system, expansion of international trade, and a market structure with foreign controls of the production, sale, and distribution of goods and services. Price fluctuations and variations for similar goods in neighboring countries are indigenous factors. Many African countries have taken preventive steps, such as: (1) establishing special law enforcement agencies (Egyptian coastal guards, a Nigerian inspection company inspecting goods coming into the country, checkpoint police in Lagos, government administration of the major industrial concern in Mozambique); (2) enacting legislation (Ghana's criminal codes regarding smuggling offenses and Kenya's ban on game trophies); and introducing stern penal sanctions. In addition, many countries are signing bilateral agreements to cooperate in stemming the flow of illegal international trade. Footnotes and maps are provided.