News

CALL FOR PAPERS: INTERVIEWING “ORGANIZED CRIMINALS”

Invitation to contribute to a special issue of TRENDS IN ORGANIZED CRIME: Interviewing “Organized Criminals”
(revised: 20061218)

While in the past research on organized crime has primarily relied on official and journalistic sources, more and more studies prove that direct access to ‘organized criminals’ is possible. The purpose of this special issue is to give readers an idea of the difficulties and possibilities of conducting offender interviews in the area of organized crime and to provide a basis for answering questions like: Are offender interviews more valid and reliable than other data sources? Can interview-based research on organized crime be planned and replicated, or does it always depend on uniquely fortunate circumstances? Are interviews with ‘organized criminals’ dangerous; and if so, for whom? Are there significant differences between interviewing incarcerated and non-incarcerated offenders?

Researchers who have interviewed offenders associated with activities or structures commonly labeled ‘organized crime’, (whether incarcerated, in witness protection programs or on the street, whether active or retired,) are invited to share their experiences and views. Manuscripts must conform to APA style and should stay within the range of between 2,000 and
5,000 words.

Please submit manuscripts in electronic form (MS Word, RTF) by e-mail to Klaus von Lampe (editor@trends-in-organized-crime.net) no later than 15 April 2007.

BATTLE AGAINST YAKUZA YIELDING RESULTS

It is no wonder a senior official of the National Police Agency said, “This was an epoch-making year in terms of measures against financial sources for organized crime groups.” This year saw the widespread implementation of initiatives to exclude organized crime groups from various fields, such as stock markets, sporting circles and public works contract.

But the measures are just guides to prevent the flow of financial resources to criminal gangs. Ensuring the effectiveness of such systems and investigating illegal income or creating measures to follow up what has already been implemented are currently top agenda items.

At the first liaison conference between the agency and the Metropolitan Police Department held at the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Dec. 8, agency Commissioner General Iwao Uruma, speaking before TSE executives, expressed his determination to rid the stock market from organized crime groups, saying, “Companies that have relations with antisocial powers must be dealt with appropriately.”

Behind Uruma’s strong attitude are palpable fears that many listed companies have been corrupted by such groups. Six years ago, links between the former president of an online music distribution company listed on the TSE’s Mothers Market and an organized crime group were discovered. In May, the former president of a condominium sales company listed on the TSE’s Second Section was arrested in a case involving an organized crime boss and illegal registries.

The aim of the conference was to help information exchange to prevent the yakuza from becoming too cozy with companies after companies go public and manipulating their stock prices. A senior official at the agency said, “It means a great deal that efforts have begun to exclude organized crime from fields where they could invest massive capital.”

It has been rare until now for organizations in a range of industries to launch campaigns with police support to battle organized crime groups. But this year the central and local governments began concerted efforts to exclude them. One such campaign has been in the public works sector. The government set up a working team in July comprising ministry officials. The team announced a policy to exclude criminal gangs from all types of contracts, including those with principal contractors and subcontractors.

The team is making plans to exclude not only companies that organized crime groups manage directly, but also to cut off funds to the groups themselves and affiliated associations. The policy has already been introduced in construction work orders by all the regional development bureaus of the Construction and Transport Ministry. In May, a construction company in Yamanashi Prefecture that provided such groups with 5 million yen was punished and barred from participating.

This system has been introduced in local governments, and Osaka Prefecture in April decided to punish companies that have exclusively used subcontractors with yakuza connections. In August, a major general contractor was reprimanded when it was discovered it had signed with a subcontractor who was a golfing friend of a yakuza boss.

Ostracizing organized crime groups from public organizations has been late in coming compared with private sector efforts, as the government tried to remain evenhanded and not discriminate against residents and companies. But this year, since the government has confirmed it is targeting organized crime groups as a major tactic in fighting crime, many ministries moved to exclude these groups from receiving government welfare payments, bidding on national land purchases and other interactions with the government.

The NPA has become more active in disclosing information on organized crime groups. It has been more willing to disclose information on whether someone has been a member of such a group, if it is considered in the public interest, but the agency has dragged its feet when such information has been requested.

Since last year, the agency has taken the initiative in clarifying rules on information exchange, and the number of cases has shot up in which the police, without stating reasons, have requested the exclusion of organized crime groups from specified business dealings because the agency said investigations had discovered connections.

Major conflicts between organized crime groups were practically nonexistent this year, and the number of conspicuous illegal acts by such groups has plummeted. Yet the agency fear a backlash against the marginalization of such groups, as people will be lulled into a false sense of security over the dangers of organized crime groups.

The agency also aims to throw a wrench into the yakuza works to prevent them from becoming more finance-based, meaning their ways of obtaining funds would become more tricky and harder to trace.

===

Climate of acceptance

A yakuza once said: “When there are problems, the police don’t act right away, and it takes time and money to hire lawyers. So groups such as ours are needed.”

It has been long noted that organized crime groups do not disappear because there are companies and citizens who profit from them or are willing to voluntarily offer support. Organized crime groups are creating systems to absorb massive profits by attacking society’s soft spots. It is necessary to change the climate that accepts the existence of underground groups.

“Much of the money collected by organized crime groups will become capital for loan-sharking operations and for the purchase of drugs. That kind of money in turn creates crime and hurts society,” a senior NPA official said. It is imperative to eliminate the financial resources of such groups as well as to seize illegally earned money.

The Law for Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds and Other Matters stipulates that illegal proceeds of prostitution and the selling of drugs and weapons may be confiscated as crime-related profits. However, the law is applicable to only to a limited number of criminal activities and fails to fully cover all organized crime.

The most realistic approach is to pin down an organized crime group with tax evasion charges, which can be connected to all illicit proceeds. But up to now, taxes have not properly been imposed on crime organizations.

Daily Yomiuri online, 20 Deceember 2006

CALL FOR PAPERS PREVENTION OF ORGANISED CRIME AND CORRUPTION: INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS IN POST-COMMUNIST COUNTRIES.

4th ECPR Conference, Pisa (Italy)
6-8 September 2007

Section: Representing a Crisis: Organised Crime between New and Old Threats (Standing Group
Organised Crime)

PANEL SIX:

Organised and other forms of crime and corruption in post-communist transformation countries are receiving continuing attention on part of international bodies and Western countries, recently increasingly from a security perspective. On a European regional level, in the course of the 2004 EU enlargement, new security concerns have been raised about an expansion of transnational organised crime from Russia and other CIS countries. At the same time, corruption is increasingly viewed as a national and international security issue, as it has been an important factor leading to the colour and flower revolutions in the post-communist world since 1999. Corruption is also said to foster unpredictability in foreign policy-making as well as transnational (organised) crime and terrorism.

This panel discusses how international actors such as the EU or the UN seek to deal with crime and corruption in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA). Transnational crime prevention is a considerably young, but very significant field of co-operation across West-East dimensions. While it may be too early to assess successes, it is time to address conceptual approaches towards the prevention of crime and corruption in the post-communist region. First, it is vital to examine how respective efforts, expectations, and initial disillusionments may affect the unfolding relations between international bodies and various post-communist countries. Second, scholars need to revisit conceptual challenges of studying organised and other forms of crime, corruption, and terrorism.
Identification of differences and overlaps, synergies and spill-over effects is crucial when seeking to prevent one or the other criminal element, especially in post-communist contexts where old and new characteristics are considerably blurred. The panel seeks to integrate discussions on different international bodies (such as the EU and the UN) and different country cases (including Eastern Europe, South-Eastern Europe, new EU member states) in order to allow for insightful comparative
discussion.

Deadline for abstracts (max. 300 words): 19 JANUARY 2007

Full papers to be submitted until August 2007

Reimbursement possibilities are managed via ECPR: http://www.essex.ac.uk/ecpr/funding/index.aspx

For applications and further questions please contact the panel chairs:

Diana Schmidt (Research Centre for East European Studies, Bremen),
diana.schmidt@uni-bremen.de

Holger Moroff (Friedrich Schiller University Jena),
holger.moroff@web.de

ASIAN ORGANIZED CRIME THRIVING IN CANADA

When organized crime is mentioned, what comes to mind for most people is the Italian Mafia. But one of the most powerful and dangerous criminal groups is the Triads, a centuries-old Chinese crime gang that has a strong and ubiquitous presence throughout the world, including Canada.

Triad societies, with their secret initiation rituals and code of loyalty, have long overshadowed Chinese communities around the globe. As with other Asian gangs from countries such as Vietnam, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea, they prey upon their own, often using fear and intimidation tactics as well as outright physical violence.

Thought to be the world’s largest criminal fraternity, the Triads, or Chinese Mafia, have a long history in Canada. They initially established operations there in the 1850s, when the Chinese began arriving in North America to build the railroads and work in the goldfields. Many of the migrants—desperate to escape China after the horror of the 1850 Taiping Rebellion in which 20 million died—were brought in illegally by the Triads.

The Triads provided passage to Canada, and those who came had to work for years in low-paying jobs or as prostitutes to pay off their transportation debt, just as the many illegal aliens who have been smuggled into the country do today. Many used Canada as a jumping-off point to enter the United States, again just as they do today. Because the predominantly male Chinese population at the time was either barred from mixing with local women or did not wish to, the Triads brought in women and girls from China, some as young as 12. They also imported opium, the use of which was legal at the time, and ran gambling and prostitution houses. Before long, crime and drug addiction began to spread across the country.

In modern times, in addition to human trafficking and drug smuggling, the Triads are involved in such unsavory practices such as arms dealing, economic espionage, counterfeiting, and money laundering. Hong Kong, home to more than 50 Triad societies totalling hundreds of thousands of members, is a key transit point for the large amounts of Golden Triangle heroin and methamphetamines that flow into North America. The Triads controlled most of the drugs’ transportation.

A 2004 Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC) report stated that Asian organized crime presents a major threat in Canada because of its many widespread and well-run criminal operations. CISC said Asian-based street gang violence is on the rise in several cities, and that the street gangs have connections with more sophisticated Asian organized crime groups—in other words, the Triads. At a local level, Asian gangs are involved in a long list of criminal activities: credit card fraud, luxury car theft, prostitution, home invasions, staged vehicle accidents, contract killings, assaults, welfare and employment insurance fraud, drug trafficking, software piracy, loan-sharking, and illegal gaming. While scattered from coast to coast, Asian gangs are most active in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto, the CISC report said.

Former diplomat and organized crime specialist Brian McAdam says the Triads often form an alliance with other Asian gangs, such as the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese gangs now largely control marijuana growing-operations in Canada and sometimes collude with Hell’s Angels, thought to be British Columbia’s largest organized crime group. The Vietnamese gangs, known for their extreme violence and preference of automatic weapons, often take on the dirty work at the street level for the Triad, McAdam says. “Within each Chinese community, there’s usually a strong Triad presence controlling and extorting money from the businesses, and if there’s drugs, they’re bringing them in,” says McAdam.

In addition to setting up legitimate companies in Vancouver and other Canadian cities as a front for their activities, McAdam says the Triads have in many cases been successful in compromising members of the police force as well as politicians at the federal and municipal level. He says the leaders of the benevolent societies and the Masonic temples in various Chinatowns are often Triad leaders, who may contribute large political donations as well as promise the vote of the Chinese community.

In 2003, the Asian Pacific Post reported that veteran police Superintendent Garry Clement warned Ottawa in an internal memo of attempts by the Chinese Mafia to make connections with Canadian politicians.

In its International Crime Threat Assessment report, the U.S. government said Asian organized crime in Canada poses a security threat to the United States. The report details how Chinese criminal organizations from Hong Kong, China, Macau, and Taiwan have exploited the country’s immigration policies and entrepreneur program, and are using Canada as a base for their operations in the United States. “Canada has become a gateway for Chinese criminal activity directed at the United States, particularly heroin trafficking, credit card fraud, and software piracy,” the report stated.

James Dubro, author of Dragons of Crime: Inside the Asian Underworld, says many organized crime gangs smuggle their illegal booty through the native reserves that straddle the Canada-U.S. border in Quebec and Ontario. He says it’s difficult for police to do anything about it since those reserves have their own police force which is itself often corrupt. “Everyone uses [reserve land]—the mafia, the bikers, the Triads, the Vietnamese gangs. They all use it for people smuggling, drug smuggling and everything else.”

Worldwide, human trafficking is one of the biggest money makers for the Triads. In 2004, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) estimated that 600 to 800 people are brought illegally into Canada each year, and another 1,500 to 2,000 are trafficked through Canada into the United States. While some trafficking victims are pressed into forced labor, most women and children are trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Dubro says that because many Hong Kong nationals who moved to Vancouver in the 1980s after Hong Kong was returned to China had links to organized crime, Asian gangs have become the “dominant criminal force” in British Columbia. It was in the 1980s that the Big Circle Boys, a gang largely consisting of former Red Guards who moved from China to Hong Kong after the Cultural Revolution, set up shop in Vancouver.

The Vancouver RCMP said last year that they were shifting their focus to going after the gang kingpins rather than the minor players, and to that end have compiled a list of B.C.’s 20 top crime bosses. But Dubro says when it comes to Asian gangs, because they often have connections in high places and because their most powerful members do not operate at the street level, nabbing the key players is easier said than done. “The big guys are very hard to get.”

Epoch Times Victoria Staff
Dec 06, 2006

SOUTH CRIME LORDS SEE CITY AS A ‘SOFT TOUCH’

ORGANISED drug criminals from England are making a move on Inverness, viewing the traditionally low crime city as a “soft target”, police have warned. The region’s chief constable revealed that gangs from Liverpool and Manchester were bidding to take control of the city’s expanding drugs market.

The news comes as Scottish Executive figures released this week show a 6 per cent increase in gun crime in the Highlands, while Central, Dumfries and Galloway, and Fife have gone down by around 30 per cent. The region had nine incidents involving alleged “reckless conduct with firearms” — more than anywhere in Scotland except Lothian and Tayside. The Highlands is also the only area outside Strathclyde to record a gun murder, after David Leask shot wife Donna then himself on Orkney in January.

Yesterday Danny Alexander, Lib-Dem MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, said he was deeply concerned by the reports. “Drugs are unwelcome from our communities in any circumstances, and the threat of associated organised, violent crime even more so,” he stated. “We must make sure the Highlands is not a soft target compared to the policing regime south of the border. Police forces from Scotland and England need to work closely to share intelligence and to make sure the problem is being tackled strongly at its source.” He will be raising the matter with Home Office ministers to make sure the devolution settlement is not hampering “vital co-operation”.

Northern Constabulary chief constable Ian Latimer revealed that, as a result of the organised gangs’ push on the region, the force was now reviewing its ability to deal with armed criminals. “Whether we like it or not, Scotland and the Highlands are being targeted by organised crime,” he said. “Organised crime groups from south of the border, places like Manchester and Merseyside, target here because they see us as an under-developed market — a soft target.”

Chief superintendent Bruce Duncan, Northern Constabulary’s head of operations, said police were taking measures in an attempt to prevent organised crime gaining a foothold in the area. “I think serious and organised crime is a force priority and we are very keen to ensure serious crime doesn’t get a hold in the Highlands,” he said. “We are viewed as a soft target, particularly in relation to drugs, but we have been trying in the last six months to increase our proactivity.”

There were 742 more crimes across the Highlands and Islands last year than in 2004/5, most of which were due to additional drugs arrests. “There has been a large increase in drugs cases in the last year,” the chief superintendent confirmed. “The drugs problem is something that we would encourage the public to help us with, and if they have any information to get in touch.”

He put the region’s increase in gun crime down to two incidents at the beginning of the year, when people from outside the area were arrested in Fort William and at Inverness train station, allegedly in possession of several firearms. “Figures for gun crime in the Highlands and Islands are very low and the increase at the beginning of the year would account for all of that increase,” he said. “We are not experiencing a dramatic increase in gun crime and we will do everything to ensure it stays as low as possible.”

Fergus Ewing, SNP MSP for Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber, believed there was a shortage of police officers in the area and called for reinforcements to combat the threat from organised crime. “The police do a great job, but in my opinion need more numbers — there may be about 20 police officers short of what is required,” he said. “The huge growth in population of residents, coupled with greater numbers who travel in to Inverness each day, are now placing burdens on police time which is putting them at full stretch.” “I am making representations to the justice minister to tackle this under-manning.”

Inverness Courier 24 November 2006

ORGANIZED CRIME TASK FORCE GETS $400K BOOST

Manitoba’s organized crime task force received a cash infusion Wednesday, when the provincial government announced it will double its funding for the force to $800,000 next year from $400,000 this year.

Justice Minister Dave Chomiak did not provide specifics about how the money will be spent, but did say one way to fight organized crime is by out-organizing the criminals. “The most effective response to organized crime is organized justice,” he said in a release. “Organized crime in 2006 is much different than it was even 10 years ago,” Winnipeg Police Service Supt. Gord Schumacher told the news conference where the funding was announced. “Many of the groups are sophisticated, strategic and take advantage of the most modern of technologies that are available. We have to do the same and them some.”

Manitoba RCMP’s commanding officer, Assistant Commissioner Darrell Madill, said the money will not go toward hiring more investigators, but will be spent on funding operational costs, such as more complex undercover investigations. “I don’t need to tell you about the insidious nature of organized crime in Manitoba. There is not a community in this province that’s not impacted by organized crime and their influences,” Madill said. “The money that’s provided today will be a concrete demonstration by the province of Manitoba in working with our front-line investigators to double their efforts and concentrate on the disruption of organized crime groups and their influences.”

The Integrated Organized Crime Task Force in Manitoba includes investigators from the RCMP, the Winnipeg police, the Brandon police and other municipal police agencies.

Chomiak said the government also plans to introduce legislation to strengthen the provincial witness protection program.

CBC 22 November 2006

POLICE DISMANTLE TRADITIONAL ITALIAN-BASED ORGANIZED CRIME IN MONTRÉAL

MONTRÉAL, November 22, 2006 – This morning, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU) completed the first stage of one of the most important police operations in the history of Canada with the arrest of 73 people including Nicolo Rizzuto Sr., Francesco Arcadi, Francesco Del Balso, Paolo Renda, Rocco Sollecito and other associates. This major international investigation, named Project Colisée, highlighted the group’s criminal activity and revealed the many tentacles of Traditional Italian-based Organized Crime.

This Project of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit was carried out by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, with the co-operation of the Sûreté du Québec, the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, the Canadian Border Services Agency, the Service de protection des citoyens de Laval, Canada Revenue Agency and other partners.

More than 90 searches took place this morning in the Montréal and Laval region. More than 700 police officers were involved. The purpose of these searches was to gather evidence related to proceeds of crime as well as other evidence incriminating the accused.

Essentially, Project COLISÉE revealed:

• That six individuals, Nicolo Rizzuto Sr., Paolo Renda, Rocco Sollecito, Francesco Arcadi, Francesco Del Balso et Lorenzo Giordano are part of a criminal organization whose primary activity is to commit or facilitate the commission of serious crimes such as the importation, exportation and traffic of controlled substances, bookmaking, extortion and possession of proceeds of crime.

• • That the criminal organization has infiltrated the Montréal International Airport. Members of the criminal organization, and individuals acting in association with the organization, import and facilitate the importation of cocaine via the airport. A customs officer and a dozen current and old airport employees (airline and food services) are involved.

• That members of the criminal organization, and individuals acting in association with the organization, conspired to import 1,300 kg of cocaine by container. A quantity of 300 kg, representing the first shipment out of a total of 1,300 kg, was seized.

• That members of the criminal organization, and individuals acting in association with the organization, corrupted a second customs officer and conspired with this person to import an indeterminate quantity of drugs by container.

• That members of the criminal organization, and individuals acting in association with the organization, operate a bookmaking business online.

• That a member of the organization attempted to commit murder.

• That members of the criminal organization, and individuals acting in association with the organization, traffic in cocaine.

• That another separate organization exports marihuana to the United States using the Akwesasne reserve as a transit location for the drugs going to the United States and the money from the sale of marihuana entering Canada.

The 90 persons charged under this investigation face approximately 1,000 counts for offences committed between the period of 2003 and 2006. The suspects who were arrested are charged with importing, conspiracy to import and trafficking in drugs, conspiracy for the purpose of trafficking in drugs, criminal organization offence, bookmaking, possession of prohibited firearms, commission of offence for organized crime, extortion and attempted murders.

The assets of some of the persons charged were seized, including houses and bank accounts. More than CDN$3,116,380 and US$255,200 were seized in the course of the investigation.

RCMP press release 22 November 2006

IRELAND: CRIME GANGS ‘INTIMIDATING’ FIRMS

CRIME bosses are forcing legitimate businesses and business people to launder their cash, according to the head of the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Former chief of the CAB Felix J McKenna who will be speaking at a one-day conference next Tuesday, said crime gangs can intimidate individuals to make them launder cash for them. Speaking on RTÉ radio, he said that criminals can approach a large respectable firm of accountants and intimidate an individual accountant, he said.

Another speaker at the conference will be the president of the Irish Security Industry Association, Martin Stairs. He said the conference will explore options of how businesses can protect themselves. “We will discuss the latest trends and risks. We will focus on where companies should be targeting their resources,” he said.

“Screen your own staff. Companies should also look from inside out and not just outside in. Threats from inside can include employees, delivery people, ex-employees to name a few,” he said. He also stresses that companies should assess the risk of having cash versus credit facilities on the premises. “Change modus operandi,” he said. “Find out who has keys to premises and make a list of them.” he said. “Also do research on clients and services they provide.”

The security industry in Ireland is worth €400m-€500m, according to Mr Stairs said that each company business needs to have its own security measures in place relevant to its business. The one-day conference in the Davenport hotel, Dublin, on November 28 is organised by publishers First Law.

Barrister Paul Anthony McDermot will present a talk on criminal’s protection under the law. Head of fraud investigations at Axa Insurance Willie McGee will discuss organised crime and the link to business vulnerability. Identity theft, pilferage, infiltrating retail sectors by gang members, insurance scams, credit card fraud and internet scams will also be discussed at the conference.

irishexaminer.com 21 November 2006

NO CONSENSUS IN MACEDONIA OVER ESTABLISHING A SPECIAL PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE TO FIGHT ORGANIZED CRIME

Skopje. The question whether a special prosecutor’s office for combating organized crime and corruption will be formed in Macedonia, or the present decision envisaging the formation unit in the frames of the Macedonian prosecutor’s office, remains open, the Macedonian Utrinski Vesnik daily wrote today.
Experts are not unanimous on the issue, however, it is the politics that will arrive at the final conclusion, the newspaper stressed.
After innumerous sessions, the working team, which operates on the law on prosecutor’s office, could not come to an agreement on the issue. The Department for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption, headed by Jovan Ilievski, approved the idea of establishing a separate prosecutor’s office. Instead of working out a compromise, the draft version of the law includes both the conceptions – Department for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption and special prosecutor’s office as an alternative.

21 November 2006, FOCUS News Agency

NEW ZEALAND: POLICE CRACKDOWN ON ORGANISED CRIME

Thirty four addresses were raided in and around the Hawke’s Bay on Thursday morning as part of a crackdown on organised crime. The raids were the culmination of seven months work as part of Operation Nacre, which has seen more than 80 police officers involved in carrying out the drug-related search warrants. Search warrants were executed on homes in Napier, Hastings, Wairoa and Gisborne in connection with the sale of Class A, B and C drugs. About 50 people were arrested.

Detective Sergeant Warren Murdoch says of major concern was the discovery of eight stun guns, two sawn-off shotguns and a home-made explosive device. Explosive specialists from Wellington have been called in to deal with the explosive. Murdoch says it is the second operation coordinated by Hastings Police, following more than 40 arrests as part of Operation Oyster in August.

It also follows a third operation in July which targeted Wairoa Mongrel Mob. Detective Inspector Sam Aberahama says the district is committed to reducing the effects that organised crime’s having on our community.

16 November 2006
Newstalk ZB

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