Abstracts

Note this page is being updated as we finalize our speaker list. Please keep checking for an updated abstracts!


Dwight Smith
An enterprise approach to global and transnational crime
Dwight Smith (SUNY-Albany)

Early discussions about transnational crime occurred in the context of American understanding of organized crime, based on an alien conspiracy theory that has since been shown to be inadequate.  This paper describes an alternate, more robust and more useful approach based on two assumptions: first, there is a spectrum of enterprise encompasses both normally legal enterprises and clearly illicit enterprise; and second, that behavioral concepts ordinarily applied only to legitimate businesses are applicable to that entire range of activity.  The paper ends with some questions concerning the application of the enterprise approach to transnational crime.


Rely Vilcica
Exporting Court Innovation: Compatibility between the American Drug Court Model and European Justice Systems
Rely Vîlcică (Temple University)

Despite the increasingly international dimensions of the drug court movement as it extends beyond its U.S. “birth” place, to date the expansion of such courts has mostly been limited to countries relying on Anglo-Saxon legal systems in the same common-law traditions as the U.S. This paper examines the potential for the American drug court model, as a high-profile justice and judicially-driven innovation in the US, to expand into the predominant inquisitorial systems of Continental Europe. The paper argues that the different underlying traditions of the civil-law justice systems of Continental Europe play a major role in explaining why the drug court movement has yet to expand there. However, there is a great deal of compatibility between key features of the drug courts in the US and key features of the inquisitorial systems of most European countries. The preference for rehabilitative goals, the very active judicial role of the judge, and the collaboration between defense and prosecution in inquisitorial systems are identified as elements highly conducive to the importation of drug courts. Treatment integration and the relative inflexibility to establish a legal framework for the operation of drug courts are identified as challenges to potential importation. The paper discusses the implications of a large-scale adoption of the drug court model in Europe as a policy strategy to illegal drug use and drug-related crime.


Rajeev Gundur
How settings shape organized criminal strategies
Rajeev Gundur (University of Liverpool)

This paper explores small, medium, and large criminal enterprises in the illicit drug trade and evaluates the strategies these organizations employ in order to stay afloat, by either maintaining their market share or expanding it. Moreover, it considers the techniques law enforcement uses to curb and limit the ability of these organizations to maintain or expand or to eliminate them from the marketplace. Finally, in the event of market disruption, this paper considers the strategies that emerging entrepreneurs use to enter the marketplace and avoid the pitfalls of their predecessors.


Luca Giommoni
Modelling transnational crime: the influence of market mechanisms and social relationships on drug trafficking
Luca Giommoni (Cardiff University)

Advocates of the illegal enterprise theory and of the social embeddedness theory have highlighted the importance of market forces and social factors, respectively, when analysing the organised and cross-border crimes. This paper analyses transnational drug flows as a network of economic relationships between countries, and tests the two theories with regard to heroin flows. It utilises recent advances in statistical models for social networks to identify the factors shaping heroin trafficking in relation to European countries. First, this study estimates the size and direction of heroin flows to Europe. Second, it uses a latent space approach to identify the factors shaping the networks by modelling the presence of trafficking and the amount of drug traded between countries. The findings confirm the central role of social proximity in drug trafficking and generate insights into the relationship between geographic features and corruption in influencing the structure of transnational drug networks.


Aunshul Rege
Not biting the dust: Inside India’s sand mafia
Aunshul Rege (Temple University)

India’s Sand Mafia, which illegally mines sand for construction, generates approximately USD 17 million per month in revenues. Despite the devastating environmental, physical, and economical harms caused, there is a dearth of criminological research on this organized crime group. This paper explores the Sand Mafia’s organizational dynamics, modus operandi, and threat management techniques. It conducts document analysis of media and environmental documents published between 2010 and 2017. This group operates as numerous, fragmented structures with transient memberships, and uses violence, political affiliation, and regenerative properties to ensure continued operation. Other factors, such as inadequate manpower, poor enforcement, rapid economic development, and limited acceptance of alternatives to sand, collectively compound the problem of illicit sand mining.


Donald Liddick
Rhino horn as a conflict commodity
Donald Liddick (Penn State-Fayette)

Like the infamous use of diamonds to fund regional conflicts in many parts of Africa, rhino horn has become so valuable that networks of transnational criminals use trafficking proceeds to arm poachers with sophisticated arms, equipment, and even helicopters as they decimate the remaining black and white rhino populations in southern Africa.  Trafficking networks, which include a wide range of actors–most notably corrupt public officials–link poachers in South Africa with a significant end market in Vietnam.  Rhino horn is properly viewed as a “conflict commodity,” as the illicit transnational traffic has led to the deaths of hundreds of poachers, traffickers, and wildlife rangers.  The article concludes by examining possible solutions, including the elimination of “criminogenic asymmetries” and a focus on so-called “grey flows” of horn.


Peter Grabosky
Sympathy for the Devil? Harnessing criminal organizations in furtherance of public policy
Peter Grabosky [Keynote] (Australian National University)

Governments have long relied on non-state actors to assist in the implementation of public policy. Legitimate elements of civil society have become familiar instruments of governance.

States have also engaged criminal actors to this end. This presentation will recall examples of state collaboration with criminal interests, from pirates turned privateers during the 17th and 18th centuries, to the patriotic hackers of today. It will discuss the strategic considerations giving rise to such engagement, and ethical criteria that might inform the decision to enlist the services of illicit organizations.


Alese Wooditch
The Impact of the Trafficking in Persons Report: A Review of the Evidence
Alese Wooditch (Temple University)

Anti-trafficking efforts have been adopted globally to curb human trafficking, yet many nations have failed to put initiatives into practice. As a consequence, the U.S. Department of State implemented the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report to monitor and increase efforts worldwide and serve as a guide to funding anti-trafficking programs abroad. This exploratory study investigates the impact of this policy initiative by means of a longitudinal assessment of the TIP Report’s tier classifications, a system that grades countries based on anti-trafficking initiatives, and determines if U.S. funded anti-trafficking initiatives internationally target those countries in need. The findings suggest that tier ranking has not improved over time, and the United States has failed to systematically allocate funds based on the recommendations of the tier classification system. Policy recommendations and implications for future research are discussed.


Jay Albanese
The more things change.. Markets vs. actors vs. groups in assessing organized crime
Jay Albanese (Wilder School of Public Affairs, Virginia Commonwealth University)

What should be the focus in understanding and responding to organized crime: groups, offenders, activities, markets? This presentation takes a broad look at the last 50 years of organized crime research and practice to find an arc in the story of organized crime and its control from the 1960s to the present. It suggests that risk assessment is the most appropriate approach to organized crime, as long as the correct unit of analysis is selected.


Cassandra Crosg
The problematic nature of jurisdiction for online fraud victims
Cassandra Cross (Queensland University of Technology)

One of the most pressing challenges with policing online fraud relates to jurisdiction. Policing is traditionally based on territoriality, but the internet has changed this. Offenders in one country can target a victim in a second country, who is requested to send money to a third or fourth country. This presentation examines online fraud victims reporting to police in Australia. Specifically, it demonstrates the misconceptions that exist regarding jurisdiction. A clear disconnect emerges between understandings and expectations of who can investigate what relating to online fraud. It uses the fraud landscape in Australia to demonstrate some of the challenges and problems that currently exist. The presentation concludes that the jurisdictional challenges experienced by police are not understood by victims, and improvement is needed regarding awareness of victims and police alike, to reduce unnecessary, additional trauma to victims.


Lauren McCarthy
Trafficking Justice: How Russian Police Enforce New Laws, from Crime to Courtroom
Lauren McCarthy (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

In response to a growing human trafficking problem and domestic and international pressure, human trafficking and the use of slave labor were first criminalized in Russia in 2003. In Trafficking Justice, Lauren A. McCarthy explains why Russian police, prosecutors, and judges have largely ignored these new weapons in their legal arsenal, despite the fact that the laws were intended to make it easier to pursue trafficking cases.

Using a combination of interview data, participant observation, and an original dataset of more than 5,500 Russian news media articles on human trafficking cases, McCarthy explores how trafficking cases make their way through the criminal justice system, covering multiple forms of the crime—sexual, labor, and child trafficking—over the period 2003–2013. She argues that to understand how law enforcement agencies have dealt with trafficking, it is critical to understand how their “institutional machinery—the incentives, culture, and structure of their organizations—channels decision-making on human trafficking cases towards a familiar set of routines and practices and away from using the new law. As a result, law enforcement often chooses to charge and prosecute traffickers with related crimes, such as kidnapping or recruitment into prostitution, rather than under the 2003 trafficking law because these other charges are more familiar and easier to bring to a successful resolution. In other words, after ten years of practice, Russian law enforcement has settled on a policy of prosecuting traffickers, not trafficking.


Shapiro and Maras
Warning: Ads selling sex with children
Lauren Shapiro & Marie-Helen (Maria) Maras (John Jay College)

Sex traffickers use the Internet in innovative ways first to lure minors and then to advertise and sell these children for sexual exploitation.  Children are sold to or kidnapped by traffickers in a variety of ways. For example, some are throw-aways or run-aways looking for patrons and others are duped into meeting an online “friend or love interest.” Child victims from the United States and abroad are transported within and across countries and subjected to horrific conditions, including being forced to engage in various sexual acts with hundreds of people per day, beaten, starved, deprived of sleep, and made substance addicts.  This presentation has three goals. First, it focuses on showing how traffickers use the visible web and Darknet to facilitate their crimes online. Second, it describes problems faced by law enforcement in capturing these criminals and rescuing the victims.  Third, it proposes solutions, including training, to help law enforcement identify individuals vulnerable to this type of trafficking and ways in which technology can be used to a.) mitigate the harm caused to the children, b.) enable effective investigation, and c.) improve prosecution of this crime.