Criminal Networks and Black Markets in Transnational Environmental Crime

Environmental Crime in Transnational Context

Author/s (editor/s):

Lorraine Elliott

Publication year:

2016

Publication type:

Book chapter

Find this publication at:
Routledge

Published in Toine Spapens, Rob White and Wim Huisman, eds, Environmental Crime in Transnational Context: Global Issues in Green Enforcement and Criminology, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2016, pp. 233-49.

Environmental crime has become serious, transnational and organized. 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 cross-over crimes such as money laundering. They have become increasingly transnational as those involved take advantage of a globalising economy characterised 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 organised that it now merits consideration alongside other forms of transnational organised crime. These particular forms of organised 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. In effect, the products, the perpetrators and often the profits move across borders with the knowing intention of obtaining illegal gain.

The purpose of this chapter is to gain a better understanding of ways in which those markets in illegally produced, harvested or extracted environmental commodities operate illicitly and covertly across borders. This chapter analyses criminal networks involved in the trafficking of protected wildlife, illegally logged wood and the black market in ozone depleting substances. In order to understand this business of organised crime, this chapter draws on criminological social network analysis, and approaches to networks developed in the fields of public policy and management and transaction cost economics. In doing so, it builds a cross-disciplinary model of criminal networks that is relational (social), organisational (governance) and transactional (production). From this model follow four aspects at the core of this analytical framework: nodes; specialisation and differentiation; relationships of supply and exchange; and the efficiency of mechanisms of social control.

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