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Measuring Transnational Organized Crime Threats to US National Security

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Technical Report,05 Jul 2015,26 May 2016

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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In 2011 President Obama released the United States Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime SCTOC. The strategy identified Transnational Organized Crime TOC as a national security threat directed the creation of an Interagency Threat Mitigation Working Group TMWG. The SCTOC tasked the TMWG to identify criminal networks that posed a sufficiently high national security threat to merit a whole-of-government approach to achieve their defeat. Unfortunately, the SCTOC did not include any methodology for differentiating between criminal networks. Organized crime typologies, models, and assessment tools do exist. However, not all these tools are necessarily suitable for the TMWG. The question was, therefore, is there an existing typology or assessment model that can identify the TOC groups that present the national security threat defined in the SCTOC A literature review of existing organized crime assessments identified the three most common conceptual frameworks used to study organized crime. These frameworks are organization-based, activities-based, and harm-based. The SCTOC discussion of TOC most closely resembles an organization-based conceptual framework. Therefore, all activities-based, and harm-based typologies were ruled out. SCTOC also identified specific selection criteria that helped match the SCTOC with an appropriate organization-based typology. The most appropriate model must be simple, support UN common terms, include key SCTOC variables, and address links to terrorists. A number of organization-based typologies were analyzed. The research found that The United Nations report, Pilot Survey of Forty Selected Organized Criminal Groups in Sixteen Countries meets the needs of the Threat Mitigation Working Group TMWG best. The UN typology is not designed to score TOC networks, so it is not an obvious choice, but it could be easily modified by the TMWG to rank-order TOC networks.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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