Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Diversify Your Income: Organized Crime 101

Source: Corbis

Organized crime is a business. From an economic standpoint, it is simply the pursuit of different (illegal) money-making ventures. Human trafficking is one such venture that has become an undeniably lucrative industry for organized crime. While countries scramble to create laws to punish perpetrators and protect victims, while law enforcement is training to detect trafficking situations and while justice systems are figuring out how to prosecute and convict traffickers, the business of modern day slavery is thriving and generating billions of dollars every year.

Trafficking is a business. It is one that exploits and destroys lives, but for the traffickers, a business nonetheless. There is a cost (transportation, bribes, potentially getting caught, etc) and there is benefit (money). At the present time, the costs and risks are far outweighed by the benefits.

Ten convictions have been made in the Philippines since Republic Act Number 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, was passed in 2003. Ten convictions have been made in five years. That's an average of two convictions per year. Although the factors that contribute to this dearth of convictions are varied and complex, the reality is that trafficking is a business and the risks of getting caught are, up to this point, almost a non-factor in the equation.

Until convictions increase and other factors like addressing the demand side of trafficking are pursued that will increase the risk and cost of trafficking in persons, expect it to be business as usual for organized crime syndicates.

Such is the case around the world and as noted by this recent article about trafficking in the UK.

From the Times Online:

British criminals are forging links with East European gangsters to establish international networks for human trafficking, The Times has learnt. Investigators believe that the number of women and children trafficked into Britain for sexual exploitation far exceeds the figure of 4,000 a year cited by the Home Office.

They are tracking gangs across Europe that have seized on large-scale migration to make multimillion-pound profits by trading in people. “There is new evidence of British criminal involvement in trafficking,” a source said. “Some are involved in the drug trade and it’s no surprise that they are diversifying because there are huge amounts of money to be made.”

Read the full article here

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