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

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

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.


Date Created: September 12, 2013