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Transnational Organized Crime in the United States: Defining the Problem

NCJ Number
Kobe University Law Review Volume: 32 Issue: 1 Dated: 1998 Pages: 77-91
Louise L. Shelley
Date Published
15 pages
This paper examines the forms, measurement, and responses to transnational organized crime in the United States.
The primary sources of information for this paper are the reports of State and Federal agencies regarding prosecutions and trends in transnational criminal activity. The paper concludes that international organized crime flourishes in the United States despite the existence of strong legislation and the political will to fight the problem. A primary reason is the division of law enforcement responsibilities among local, State, and Federal governments. The most lucrative forms of transnational criminal trafficking in the United States are drugs, followed by arms and trafficking in human beings for prostitution, "sweatshop" work, and illegal residence. Transnational organized crime may manifest itself as highly organized crime on the local level, or it may seem disorganized. The drug traffickers in a community may be highly controlled and part of a well-constructed network. The transnational groups may, however, be smaller groups that band together with others for a particular criminal operation. Law enforcement professionals trained in community policing or specializing in drug units are not prepared to address the full dimensions of the international criminal organization. They only attack the lowest level of the organization. Law enforcement at the State and local levels must adopt integrated strategies to address the diverse forms of transnational organized crime that now manifest themselves in their jurisdictions. There must be greater coordination of local, State, and Federal law enforcement through task and strike forces. Further, law enforcement agencies must develop liaisons with businesses victimized by transnational crime, so as to facilitate both prevention and the investigation of crimes. A 40-item bibliography