chapter  8
4 Pages


The first conclusion of this book is that the concept of identity is underdeveloped in the study of organized crime, both with respect to our establishment of an identity for organized crime and regarding its establishment of one for itself. In most countries, there is a (perhaps class-conscious?) reluctance to apply, for example, the UN CATOC definition to crime and talk of organized crime, when one is facing a “structured group of three or more persons, existing for a period of time and acting in concert with the aim of committing one or more serious crimes or offences in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, financial or other material benefit,” even if the individuals concerned hold high office and can afford the best legal representation. Likewise, as pointed out in the introduction of the concept of societal alienation: Do these individuals realize that they are “organized crime figures”?— to use a popular media term. The second conclusion of the book basically concerns intellectual

probity. Mike Maguire, Rod Morgan, and Robert Reiner (editors of the fourth edition of the authoritative Oxford Handbook on Criminology)1 proclaim that they do not “embrace a fashionable postmodern relativism about truth or justice;” nor does the author of this work. Nevertheless, it is crucial to make it very clear that criminal justice is a zero-sum game; criminal justice budgets in all countries are not infinite and funds that are allocated to one issue or particular strategy are not available for some other issue or strategy. This is obviously also the case for transnational organized crime and even more so, since such crimes are, in general, expensive to investigate because of their overseas links and due to the sophistication of the precautionary measures taken by the individuals involved. It is therefore of crucial importance that funds are well allocated. This implies, at a minimum: First that particular care should be exercised in elaborating criminal justice strategies whose focus is placed on issues that either pose a discernible risk

violate have been established and activated in accordance with chosen strategies, the cost-benefit of such programs must be constantly monitored and the programs discontinued if inefficient. The long-lasting, exceedingly costly and ineffectual so-called “war on drugs” is a case in point. The equally costly and equally ineffectual money laundering regime is another. These law enforcement programs have by now been running long enough for it to be abundantly clear that they have made no impact of significance, neither on the availability of narcotic drugs, nor on the ability of criminals and, for that matter, terrorists to dispose of their funds when and where they desire. This leads one to pose a corollary of Durkheim’s observation that

crime is a normal social fact: one must arrive at the third conclusion, namely that transnational crime is a normal international social fact. Having accepted that, however, one must avoid the Scylla and Charybdis of, on the one hand, an unsubstantiated and undoubtedly erroneous belief in a worldwide Mafia conspiracy and, on the other, an equally misguided state of denial of the present and potential transnational reach of organized crime. The fourth conclusion one would wish to draw from the book relates

to criminogenesis. While one can easily understand that individual governments attempt to claw in duties and taxes they have imposed on individuals or on product, one can legitimately ask to what degree governments themselves have created the tendency to evade such duties. Norms that are seen to be unreasonable and are felt by the population as incongruous with the popular ethical conception which subtends criminal law, as for example the exaggerated revenue-generating import and sales duties on tobacco product, are by their very nature criminogenic, since unreasonable provisions will be tacitly and openly violated by a large proportion of a population. Tobacco product is taxed by a duty many times the value of the product itself; it could be argued that imposing a duty higher than the value of the product itself, in other words de-reifying it, not only is unreasonable, it is a clear invitation to norm disobedience. Fifth, one could reasonably ask to what degree and by what means

governments should investigate violations, in particular revenue evasion. Any law enforcement-type investigation involves, by necessity, an infringement of individual rights to privacy, to freedom, etc. Some might feel that the drastic measures proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Protocol to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control by far exceed what is reasonable for an

proresources and depleting ethics.2 This protocol proposes a series of enforcement measures which hitherto have only been used in the investigation of drug trafficking and other very serious crimes. Their introduction in this protocol could and should be seen as rather surprising considering that the product which the convention attempts to control is perfectly legal and freely available in all countries in the world. Observing the very substantial legal remedies being put in place in simple cases of violation of revenue regulations, one cannot but point to the far more important subject of commercial sexual exploitation of children. The paltry results obtained, at international level, in this serious area are in stark contrast to the measures proposed when the issue is not the lives of innocent children, but government revenue. Not only should investigative resources be applied in accordance with the opprobrium of the population, but their very implementation in the investigation of revenue violations ultimately will lead to a hollowing-out of the population’s sense of justice and-while undoubtedly meant to create governmental income to strengthen society-will ultimately undermine the very society, qua society, it alleges to uphold. The sixth conclusion is that to advance in our understanding of

transnational organized crime, we should bear in mind the two aspects or points of view based on scaling theory that I proposed in the Introduction. Hitherto, the very common kinds of street-level crime, for example retail theft or sale of counterfeit goods, have not been appreciated at their full value, because two mutually exclusive approaches have been used. On the one side criminology has taken an interest in the street-level criminal and his or her socio-economic circumstances, while, on the other, international relations scholars have considered the international production and transportation of goods and services, and their implications for that particular field of study. It is crucial, however, that we attempt to understand how these, at first glance so uninteresting, street crimes ultimately explain both employment patterns that are of some complexity and the accrual of substantial profits. Richard Lambert noted that “Borders are little more than a fantasy of foreign ministers” and any naïve belief that we will ever be able to control our national borders again, if indeed we ever were, is just that, naïve.3