Transnational Organized Crime

Organized crime

There is no common definition of the term organized crime with different legal institutions defining it differently. One of the factors that have led to the term organized crime being hard to define is the inclusion of the term “organized.” There is a big list of activities that are conventionally not acceptable and committing can be regarded as a crime. However, these activities do not qualify to be referred to as organized crimes. This is because the crimes can be committed by individual criminals or groups of criminals which are not necessarily established as criminal organizations.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the term organized crime refers to any group of criminals with a formal organization that facilitates their illegal activities aimed at generating income for the group. The activities of such a group are premeditated and well organized. In a bid to ensure that the activities are productive, such organizations employ violence as well as the use of corrupt and influential people in society to help them get their earnings. Some of the groups go to an extent of using extortion to get money. Basically, organized crimes have adverse effects on local people, a country and even the world at large. To ensure that people submit to their demands, they use force, threats, killings and even demolitions. To is to ensure that people are scared of them thus submitting to all their demands. On identifying that there are other criminal groups waging competition, organized crime groups apply violence to these groups to ensure that they do not thrive in their territory.

On the other hand, organized crime may refer to a continuous scheme of illicit activities conducted by a group of people aimed at helping them make money. The activities are usually organized in a specific hierarchy and the perpetrators use threats, bribes and other sorts of violence to ensure that their activities thrive with limited opposition. Most organized crime groups have leaders who are responsible for organizing the crimes and assigning duties to every member of the group. For instance, most of the organized crime groups in the United States were found to have presidents and secretaries who were responsible for coming up with strategies to be used in perpetrating their crimes. Continuity is a phenomenon found in organized crime groups. In case one of the members die or is arrested, another person from the group is elected to replace him. This ensures that the activities of the group are continued despite it losing one of its members.

At times, the perpetrators may use their ill-gotten money to buy political support from leaders. This helps them avoid cases of being incarcerated and their activities brought to an end. Some of the organized crimes include credit card fraud, people smuggling, racketeering, prostitution and kidnapping in a bid to solicit ransom. Most o criminal organizations are found to recruit their members based on ethnic background, race, and affiliation as well as referring to people’s past criminal records. A good example is an organized criminal group referred to as the “vory v zakone” found in Russia. The members of this criminal gang established it when they were under incarceration. All the members of the group have the same criminal background. In most cases, organized crimes are found to focus on goods and services that are limited and in high demand within a specific country. For instance, the demand for drugs in the United States makes cartels dealing in drug trafficking thrive in the country. The desire by people to acquire these goods and services coupled with the effort by the government to restrict them leads to organized crime groups gaining a lot of profit from the activities. Apart from these goods and services being on-demand, most of them have a high profit. This makes it possible for the groups to avoid being prosecuted or investigated by bribing government officials.

Research conducted about organized crimes in the United States found that most of the groups that perpetrate organized crimes are found not to be inclined to specific political ideologies. This distinguished them from the terrorist groups. Organized crime groups are found not to be conservative or radical nor are they found to have any political stand. Even though terrorist groups can be found entrenched in the government and also participate in bribery, their activities are not classified as organized crime.

Transnational organized crime

Just like organized crimes, transnational organized crime (TOC), refers to those crimes that are organized and perpetrated across international borders. In most cases, these crimes are found to emerge and thrive in states that do not have strong law enforcement agencies. It also occurs in states where citizens have limited options they can embark on to sustain themselves financially. As people look for other sources of finance, they fall victim to crime cartels such as drug traffickers who promise them a lot of money. Others become victims of human trafficking with promises that they will get employment opportunities in foreign countries. There is a common belief among people that transnational crimes vary with respect to the magnitude of crimes, geographical coverage, and diversity of their activities. According to United Nations, transnational organized crimes are perpetrated by three or more people with a motive of committing international crimes aimed at helping them obtain money and other tangible benefits.

The United States has come up with a method to help it distinguish between traditional and modern transnational organized crimes. It argues that traditional transnational organized crimes were perpetrated by groups that have hierarchical structures. On the other hand, modern crimes are found to be perpetrated by groups that are not centralized with respect to their activities. Traditional forms of transnational organized crimes are found to be conducted by groups that have an interest in a specific country. Such groups are found to have operated in such a country for a long period of time. Some of the groups end up establishing legal businesses in a country of interest and use it to defraud the country its resources. On the other hand, modern forms of transnational organized crimes are found to be conducted in states that do not have strong governments. The perpetrators are not found to operate legitimate businesses in such countries and their activities within these countries are short-lived.

This form of crime is detrimental to the country where it is conducted in that it compromises the democracy of the country. The existence of a transnational organized crime such as drug trafficking in a country leads to the emergence of other crimes within the country such as theft, kidnaps and rapes. This undermines the democracy of such a country. The crime also drains national assets such as human resources. Instances of human trafficking result in the affected countries losing most of their productive human resource. This inhibits the growth of the country. Transnational organized crimes have been blamed for the establishment of unstable societies in most countries. The vice has been found to gradually threaten global security with numerous people from varied countries being recruited to these criminal groups. It is in this respect that countries are in the process of establishing international laws to facilitate curbing crime. For instance, United nationals have pledged to facilitate in coming up with mechanisms that will facilitate in extradition of people arrested committing in foreign countries as well as training third world countries on means of controlling the crime.

Generally, organized crimes are conducted by their perpetrators with an aim of getting financial gains. This is the main reason that leads to members of organized crime groups refraining from associating themselves with specific political ideologies. This helps them manage to establish legal businesses in countries of interest. The establishment of legal businesses helps these groups thrive as they reflect money illegally gotten in their records for taxation. They use the business as the source through which they have accrued this money making it hard for them to be detected. This is the main reason most organized crime groups are currently embarking on establishing legitimate businesses in countries where they operate.

Human smuggling as a transnational organized crime

People smuggling refers to the illegal transfer or shipment of people from one country to another. Based on the circumstance, it can be categorized into two. There are instances where people wish to move from one country to another in a bid to escape famine, seek employment or escape war in their countries. To manage to get into their destination countries, such people have to look for ways to avoid being noticed by law enforcement agencies. As a result, they end up paying a person to smuggle them in. In this case, the smuggling acts as a service offered to these people to help them get into a country illegally. People smuggling can also be conducted with an aim of saving people from a specific problem. For instance, during the Jewish cleansing in Germany, most of the Jews were smuggled out of the country to escape the massacre. The people responsible for helping immigrants gain access to other countries earn their living from the money they charge these people for the services. The relationship between the smuggler and the persons being smuggled comes to an end the moment one gains access to the country and the smuggler receives payment from his or her client.

Human smuggling may take the form of helping the immigrant have access to a foreign country illegally by assisting him, or her get forged documents. Unlike human trafficking where the perpetrator absolutely exploits the victim, in human smuggling, the person being a smuggler has no authority over the person being smuggled. The process takes place after both parties have come up with an agreement. Despite human smuggling seems to be a way of helping immigrants get access to other countries, it is a cruel crime that leads to a lot of human suffering. With numerous people seeking to get employed as well as others wishing to escape the suffering, they go through in their war-torn countries they can do all it takes to get access to foreign countries. Smugglers take this advantage to exploit these people without considering the implications of such people getting into foreign countries illegally. FThesmugglers, aim at making money from these people and leave them stranded once they have successfully smuggled them into their country of destination. Most of these people end up being exploited by people from foreign countries as they are desperate of getting employed.

How Human smuggling is conducted

There are two categories of human smuggling. The crime is categorized based on geographical coverage. There are those that are conducted with a local market to those consisting of large-scale operators who perpetrate their crimes across international markets. For small-scale smugglers, the person responsible for human smuggling organizes and conducts all responsibilities involved in the process by himself or herself. On the other hand, the smuggling process covering the international market involves division of labor. All perpetrators responsible for the vice come up with a network of activities that are shared among the various participating parties. Initially, the activity was found to be less sophisticated with the smugglers having limited mechanisms to facilitate the success of their activities. This resulted in most of them being noticed before they manage to smuggle their clients.

As more people try to get into different countries illegally, perpetrators of human smuggling have come up with more sophisticated mechanisms making it hard for law enforcement agencies to notify them. The business has evolved to comprise numerous associations located in different countries. It has become possible for people being smuggled to make numerous stops in various countries before getting to their destination without being noticed. Most of the routes used in the smuggling activities have started being institutionalized. This is to ensure that law enforcement agencies do not know of the activities conducted in these routes. Some of the advantages that smugglers have exploited include the lack of strong regulations and limited supervision in most borders. Even in countries such as Australia, the government conducts limited supervision of people entering or leaving the country through its borders. This gives the smugglers an opportunity to smuggle people into or out of the country. Most of the people responsible for supervising the borders are corrupt. As a result, smugglers bribe them to let them go on with their illegal businesses.

Based on the route to be followed when smuggling people as well as the nature of the journey, human smugglers have established intricate networks to facilitate their activities. In those routes that smugglers have clear information about and they know that they do not involve a lot of work, they tend to run them in form of family businesses. These routes have a limited number of people operating in them. However, the more the route becomes complicated, the more the number of smugglers are involved and the more complex the smuggling network. Unlike traditional organized crimes where it was possible to tell the structure of the organization and the order in which activities are controlled, current human smuggling business has no defined infrastructure. There is no clear structure of the crime organization neither is there presence of information on the hierarchy of operations. They operations are distributed with the perpetrators being found to come up with temporary business associations to facilitate them in conducting their smuggling and dismantling them once they are through with their activities.

Smuggling activities can be considered as semi permanent units established to facilitate in conduction of a specific assignment. The activity is managed by persons that coordinate with one another on a one-to-one approach. There is no one person who controls the entire activities. In other words, human smuggling business is not owned by a specific person who employs assistants to help in realization of the business. Rather every person involved in the business have equal share to whatever is earned out of the business. Every one perceives himself or herself as an independent agent in the business. Despite there being division of labor in the business, every person carries out his or her responsibility with limited interference from other members. This is because they understand that the role of every person in the process is vital to the success of the entire process. In addition, the role played by every person is more specialized to an extent that not every one can do it. Since no one have experience in the entire process involved in smuggling process, it becomes hard to interfere with other people’s processes.

Reasons why people participate in human smuggling

Despite human smuggling being considered as an illegal activity by law enforcers, there are instances of human smuggling that are conducted with the perpetrators having good motive of helping their clients. There are human smuggling activities that have been conducted with an aim of alleviating human suffering. This is in countries suffering from civil wars. In most of the African countries, there have been cases of human smuggling aimed at helping people escape fights in their countries. During Jewish cleansing that took place in Germany, many Jews were smuggled out of the country to Netherlands. Most of those who participated in smuggling the Jews later became heroes in the country. This is one of the best examples where human smuggling was conducted with the perpetrator not intending to exploit the need by the immigrant to flee his or her country to enrich him.

However, most of the human smuggling crimes that have been reported shows that the criminals involved in the activity aims at enriching themselves. Most of those arrested perpetrating the crime have been found to take advantage of people wishing too travel to foreign countries to make money. There are countries that have poor system of governance. In such countries, it is hard for citizens to obtain pass port to allow them travel to other countries. For instance, in African countries such as Somalia, it is difficult to get a pass port. As more people in the country wish to travel to other countries, it becomes inevitable for such people to look for other means to help them travel4. This has led to increase in human smuggling in such countries. Perpetrators help these people get forged travel documents for the country they intend to travel to at a specific charge. In North Iraq, it is difficult for the Kurds to get visas to help them leave the country. To ensure that they have left the country, these people look for assistance from smugglers. Most of the people from Iraq confess to have left the country without following the right procedures.

Increase in rate of unemployment in most of the third world countries have also led to human smuggling business thriving. Most of the people are wishing to travel to developed countries where they believe they can get employed. With these people not willing to follow the required procedures to be authorized to travel to the countries, they look for shortcuts. Most of them fear not being denied the permission to travel to these countries. It is with this respect that smugglers have taken this opportunity to exploit these people. Most of the people are willing to part with money if guaranteed that they will be assisted in getting into their intended countries. Most of the developed countries have come up with strong mechanisms of monitoring their borders. This makes it hard for people illegal immigrants to get into these countries. There are also strict regulations and conditions that people have to fulfill before being allowed to get into these countries. This has led to most of the immigrants look for smugglers to help them get into such countries. It is this high demand by people to illegally migrate to developed countries that have led to more people engaging in the human smuggling business.

Reference List

‘ASIA: People smuggling kingpin escapes with fine’, AAP General News Wire (Sydney), 2010

BBC Monitoring International Reports, ‘Caribbean nationals arrested in Florida over people smuggling’, 2010

‘Fed: Indon help on people smuggling at an all-time high – Evans’, AAP General News Wire (Sydney), 2010

‘Fed: Indon to make people smuggling illegal’, AAP General News Wire (Sydney), 2010

‘Fed: People smuggling ‘out of control’ ‘, AAP General News Wire (Sydney), 2010

‘Fed: Wait and see on people smuggling, Bishop says’, AAP General News Wire (Sydney), 2010

‘Fed: Yudhoyono commits to outlaw people smuggling’, AAP General News Wire (Sydney), 2010

Massey, Douglas, Jorge, Durand and Nolan, Malone, Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mexican Immigration in an Era of Economic Integration (2002)

Salt, John and Jeremy, Stein, ‘Migration as a Business: the Case of Trafficking’ (2007), 35 International Migration 467-489

States News Service, ‘Sri Lankan Man Charged With Organized People Smuggling’, Academic One File, 2010

States News Service, ‘Sri Lankan Man Charged With People Smuggling’, Academic One File, 2010

States News Service, ‘Three Men Charged With People Smuggling’, 2010

The Australian, ‘People-smuggling captain to get his vessel back’, 2010

The Australian, ‘Unit’s brief to follow the money: New Measures to Fight Organized Crime, People-Smuggling and Refugee Reversal’, 2010

US Fed News Service, ‘21 Year Old Australian Arrested By Australian Federal Police, To Face Perth Magistrates Court For Allegedly Facilitating People Smuggling Activities’, ProQuest Research Library, 2010

US Fed News Service, ‘Australian Police Arrests Man Charged With People Smuggling’, 2010

Us Fed News Service, ‘Two Indonesian Men Charged In Australia Over People Smuggling Offence’, Proquest Research Library, 2010

US State News, ‘Four Indonesian Men Charged With People Smuggling Offences after Alleged Attempt to Facilitate Arrival of 51 People to Australia’, 2010

Van Liempt, Ilse, Navigating Borders: Inside perspectives on the process of human smuggling into the Netherlands (2007)

‘WA: Boat captain jailed for people smuggling’, AAP General News Wire (Sydney), 2010

Cite this paper

Select style


LawBirdie. (2023, March 27). Transnational Organized Crime. Retrieved from


LawBirdie. (2023, March 27). Transnational Organized Crime.

Work Cited

"Transnational Organized Crime." LawBirdie, 27 Mar. 2023,


LawBirdie. (2023) 'Transnational Organized Crime'. 27 March.


LawBirdie. 2023. "Transnational Organized Crime." March 27, 2023.

1. LawBirdie. "Transnational Organized Crime." March 27, 2023.


LawBirdie. "Transnational Organized Crime." March 27, 2023.