ABSTRACT

Introduction Environmental crime has become ‘serious, transnational and organized’ (Banks et al. 2008, p. 2). Crimes associated with illegal extraction, harvest and waste are serious because of their environmental consequences, because of the ways that they undermine the rule of law and good governance at local, national and global levels, and because of their links with violence, corruption and a range of crossover crimes such as money laundering. They have become increasingly transnational as those involved take advantage of a globalizing economy characterized by freer trade, increases in the frequency and volume of commodity shipments, fewer border controls, and the opportunity to launder profits into legitimate enterprise through financial and banking systems that have a global reach. And this area of criminal activity is sufficiently systematic and organized that it now merits consideration alongside other forms of transnational organized crime. These particular forms of organized illegal trade fit the definition of what makes crime transnational set out in the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. That is, they are either committed in more than one state or are committed in one state but with a substantial part of the preparation, planning, direction or control taking place in another state (United Nations 2000, Article 3). In effect, the products, the perpetrators and often the profits move across borders with the knowing intention of obtaining illegal gain.