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Research on Facilitators of Transnational Organized Crime: Understanding Crime Networks' Logistical Support

Award Information

Award #
2013-R2-CX-0046
Location
Congressional District
Status
Closed
Funding First Awarded
2013
Total funding (to date)
$568,712

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2013, $165,497)

Criminal facilitators help transnational criminal organizations conduct their illegal activities across national borders. They do this by exploiting legal institutions (e.g., banks, government agencies or transportation infrastructure) to launder money, forge documents or smuggle goods, or augment otherwise legal activities with fraud or theft that aids transnational organized crime (TOC) networks. They may operate exclusively within a TOC network, or may be involved in both legal and illegal business activities.

This award will use a three step process the applicant has employed successfully in similar studies to locate and interview facilitators. In the first step, the project team will use electronic data from Guidelines applications collected by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to sample convicted offenders who appear to be facilitators. In the second step, the project team will review pre-sentence investigation reports for those who appear to be facilitators to determine whether they are, in fact, facilitators with ties to TOC. Finally, the project team will interview a sample of 100 facilitators incarcerated in Federal prisons to learn about the ways they initiated criminal facilitation activities for TOC networks, what skills and expertise TOC networks sought assistance with, and how they exploited otherwise licit institutions and infrastructure to carry out global criminal enterprises.

TOC facilitation is a particularly challenging law enforcement problem. Those who provide logistical support for TOC networks are a potential point of vulnerability for law enforcement to disrupt operations, but their unusual criminal trajectories and semi-legal activities mask their crimes. This project will provide much needed empirical data to assist law enforcement and policymakers in developing strategies, collaborative agendas, and investigative tools to interdict facilitators. Understanding the trajectories and criminal careers of TOC facilitators will also contribute to general criminological knowledge in ways that can benefit the academic community greatly. The public components of the data collected will be of use to the academic community in broadening the scope of criminological understanding of these offenders.

ca/ncf

In fiscal year 2013, NIJ awarded Abt Associates one year of funding through Grant# 2013-R2-CX-0046 to begin a study that would advance understanding of transnational organized crime (TOC) facilitation. The study is developing a method for identifying criminal facilitators within existing datasets and extend the available descriptive information about facilitators through interviews with convicted and incarcerated facilitators of TOC. The study is designed to use a three step process to locate and interview facilitators of TOC. The first step involved the development of a methodology of identifying TOC facilitators. The second step validates the methodology and begins to systematically collect data to produce typologies and modalities of criminal organizations and facilitators, with the ultimate goal of developing a predictive model that can be applied to identify TOC facilitators in the data efficiently. The third step will provide further validation of the methodology and typology, as well as describe how organizations are structured to support illegal operations and how these operations are facilitated by others. In the first step, which the project team began using the funding provided in 2013-R2-CX-0046, the project team is using electronic data on guidelines application collected by the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) to identify convicted offenders who are likely to be TOC facilitators. The supplemental award will allow the project team to complete steps 2 and 3 as originally proposed. In the second step, we will review pre-sentence investigation reports (PSRs) for those who appear to be facilitators to determine whether they are, in fact, facilitators with ties to TOC. Finally, the project team will interview a sample of 100 facilitators incarcerated in Federal prisons to learn about the ways they initiated criminal facilitation for TOC networks, what skills and expertise TOC networks sought assistance with, and how they exploited otherwise licit institutions and infrastructure to carry out global criminal enterprises. Additional funding will allow the study team to complete tasks started using year one funds and to plan and execute remaining study tasks. This project will provide much needed empirical data to assist law enforcement and policymakers in developing strategies, collaborative agendas, and investigative tools to interdict facilitators. The results of the study will be immediately informative to those engaged in law enforcement policy and practice, enhancing knowledge of what might better deter offenders, understanding the motivation and background of offenders, identification of points of vulnerability within TOC networks, and description of characteristics and typologies of criminal facilitators who might be vulnerable to exploitation by TOC networks or coerced into supporting TOC.
nca/ncf

Date Created: September 12, 2013