Transnational Organized Crime

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Transnational organized crime involves the planning and execution of illicit business ventures by groups or networks of individuals working in more than one country. [1, 2] These criminal groups use systematic violence and corruption to achieve their goals. [3] Crimes commonly include money laundering; human smuggling; cyber crime; and trafficking of humans, drugs, weapons, endangered species, body parts, or nuclear material.

Transnational crime ring activities weaken economies and financial systems and undermine democracy. [4] These networks often prey on governments that are not powerful enough to oppose them, prospering on illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, that bring them immense profits. In carrying out illegal activities, they upset the peace and stability of nations worldwide, often using bribery, violence, or terror to achieve their goals.

The political turmoil of the 21st century and advances in technology make transnational crime a concern for the United States. Increased travel and trade and advances in telecommunications and computer technology have had the unintended effect of providing avenues for the rapid expansion of transnational organized crime activities. Policing objectives in the United States must extend beyond national borders to seek out and target this type of crime. Only through international collaboration and information exchange can the United States develop effective protocol and policies for countering these crimes and mount a serious opposition. [5]

“Transnational criminal rings are becoming more and more powerful and universal, and their mobility is growing. The means and resources of any state are not enough to seriously harm them.”

—Yuriy A. Voronin, Professor of Criminal Law, Urals State Law Academy, Ekaterinburg, Russia [6]


[1] Reuter, P., and C. Petrie, eds. Transnational Organized Crime: Summary of a Workshop. Washington DC: National Academy Press, 1995.

[2] Albanese, J.S. Organized Crime in Our Times. Cincinnati OH: LexisNexis Anderson Publishing, 2004.

[3] Finckenauer, J., and Y. Voronin. “The Threat of Russian Organized Crime.” Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, 2001, NCJ 187085.

[4, 5, 6] Voronin, Y. “Measures to Control Transnational Organized Crime.” Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, 2000, NCJ 184773.

Date Created: November 15, 2007