Category Archives: Combating Organized Crime

Transnational Organized Crime in Eastern Africa: A Threat Assessment

Drug trafficking, piracy, migrant smuggling, and the illegal ivory trade all contribute to thriving transnational organized crime across East Africa. Large quantities of Afghan heroin inbound from Pakistan and Iran have been seized up and down the East African coast since 2010 while tens of thousands of African migrants are smuggled across borders and the Indian Ocean to the Arabian Peninsula and elsewhere yearly. Sophisticated criminal syndicates have exploited East Africa’s weak interstate cooperation and insufficient legal codes to operate with negligible risk of prosecution.

Getting Smart and Scaling Up: Responding to the Impact of Organized Crime on Governance in Developing Countries

The quality and composition of governance frameworks in developing countries can be a key determinant in the growth of organized crime. In postconflict states, illicit trafficking networks often easily embed themselves within emerging state institutions, but organized criminal groups take advantage of weak accountability structures in more stable states as well. An assessment of organized crime in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Jamaica, Nepal, and Guyana emphasizes the need to enhance the oversight of political processes, strengthen judicial capacities, and engage with media and civil society to reduce vulnerabilities commonly exploited by organized crime.

Organized Crime and Conflict in the Sahel-Sahara Region

Fragility in the Sahel-Sahara region is driven in part by worsening organized crime. Collusion between smugglers of cigarettes, drugs, and weapons and state officials has eroded state authority and created lucrative funding channels for Islamist terrorists, ethnically-aligned militias, and criminal groups in the Sahel-Sahara region. To reverse this worsening instability, governments and international partners should aim to break up alliances between militias and other local criminal networks that lack strong ideological or principled bonds. Meanwhile, improved opportunities for genuine political participation for marginalized groups can further diminish support for organized crime.

Justice for Forests: Improving Criminal Justice Efforts to Combat Illegal Logging

Large-scale illegal logging operations are often linked to transnational organized criminal networks that rely on high-level corruption, intimidation, and violence. In some countries, as much as 90 percent of logging is illegal, threatening biodiversity, livelihoods, and economic development. States can better use existing information on business transactions collected by financial institutions to increase understanding of these logging networks and strengthen criminal investigations against offenders.

Termites at Work: Transnational Organized Crime and State Erosion in Kenya

For many African states, powerful transnational criminal networks constitute a direct threat to the state itself, not only through open confrontation but also by penetrating state institutions through corruption and subverting them from within. With a sharp rise in narcotics and illicit trafficking, countries risk becoming criminalized or captured states. Advanced investigative law enforcement units are needed to stem transnational crime and oversight of government agencies and regulations should be made more rigorous.

Urban Fragility and Security in Africa

Estimates are that more than half of all Africans will live in cities by 2025. This rapid pace of urbanization is creating a new locus of fragility in many African states – as evidenced by the burgeoning slums around many of the continent’s urban areas – and the accompanying rise in violence, organized crime, and the potential for instability. These evolving threats, in turn, have profound implications for Africa’s security sector.