Transnational Crime

August 29, 2014 • Volume 24, Issue 30
Is cross-border criminality getting worse?
By Peter Katel


Rhino horns seized by Czech authorities are displayed by animal rights activist Premysl Rabas (Getty Images/Isifa/Frantisek Vlcek)
Rhino horns seized by Czech authorities are displayed by animal rights activist Premysl Rabas on July 23, 2013, in Prague, Czech Republic. The 24 white rhino horns, worth an estimated $5 million, were slated for sale in Asia. The police arrested 16 members of an international gang that hired Czech nationals to hunt for the threatened rhinos in South Africa. (Getty Images/Isifa/Frantisek Vlcek)

Instant global communications and open trade routes have been a boon to businesspeople and consumers — as well as to international criminals. “Transnational organized crime” — in U.N. and U.S government parlance — has been expanding over the past two decades, some officials say, threatening to overwhelm the legitimate world economy. Criminals have raced ahead of law enforcement in adapting to globalization and modern technology, experts argue, citing booming ivory and drug smuggling, human trafficking, piracy, cyber-theft and counterfeiting of luxury goods. Others counter that transnational crime is not new but simply a modern form of an old crime — smuggling — and that new technology also enables law enforcement to better track down criminals, even across borders. Both sides agree, however, that modern technology enables hackers, pirates, smugglers and others to inflict widespread damage more quickly than in the past. The intersection between internationally minded criminals and terrorism is another worry, with terrorists turning to crime to finance their operations.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 27, 2022  Crime in America
Feb. 10, 2017  Forensic Science Controversies
Feb. 05, 2016  Restorative Justice
Jan. 30, 2015  Central American Gangs
Aug. 29, 2014  Transnational Crime
Aug. 09, 2013  Sexual Assault in the Military
Oct. 26, 2012  Mexico's Future
Apr. 20, 2012  Criminal Records and Employment
Apr. 19, 2011  Honor Killings
Sep. 2010  Crime in Latin America
Jul. 16, 2010  Gangs in the U.S.
Jul. 17, 2009  Examining Forensics
Apr. 17, 2009  Wrongful Convictions Updated
Feb. 08, 2008  Fighting Crime
Oct. 11, 2002  Corporate Crime
Apr. 04, 1997  Declining Crime Rates
Dec. 10, 1982  Arson: America's Most Costly Crime
May 07, 1982  Helping Victims of Crime
Mar. 13, 1981  Violent Crime's Return to Prominence
Jul. 15, 1977  Crime Reduction: Reality or Illusion
Jan. 19, 1972  Crime of Rape
Jan. 22, 1969  Street Crime in America
Jan. 17, 1968  Burglary Prevention
Sep. 22, 1965  Compensation for Victims of Crime
Feb. 17, 1965  Criminal Justice and Crime Control
Oct. 18, 1961  Control of City Crime
Jun. 20, 1929  Crime and the Courts
Computers and the Internet
Export Sanctions and Restrictions
International Law and Agreements
Organized Crime
Terrorism and Counterterrorism