The Future of International CrimeIn 10 years, driven by globalization and the erosion of state authority, the international criminal threat to US interests is most likely to be more diversified and impact even more directly on US strategic interests. The extent and magnitude of the problem will depend on the global political and economic conditions prevailing at the time, the extent and effectiveness of measures taken to reduce societal or systemic vulnerabilities, and the degree to which national law enforcement and security institutions around the world develop appropriate cooperative mechanisms enabling them to operate--as international criminals will be able to--outside the parameters of national sovereignty and legal jurisdictions. For example:
- A radical breakdown of the Communist system in China could intensify the influence of Chinese criminal organizations within China's political and economic systems and provide a safehaven for expanding criminal operations abroad.
- Enhancements to protect the security and integrity of electronic money-transfer and financial transactions systems could make it more difficult for criminal organizations to defraud banks, financial institutions, or individuals or to manipulate financial and commodities markets.
- Flexible bilateral and multilateral agreements that allow US law enforcement agencies to pursue criminals and time-sensitive investigative leads in foreign countries with minimal impediments could help prevent criminal organizations from operating across international borders with virtual legal impunity.
- Individuals or small groups empowered by high-tech computer skills and telecommunications capabilities may be the future wave of international crime. They would not require the infrastructure or protection of large criminal syndicates to mastermind and implement wide-ranging and sophisticated schemes in the commercial or financial arenas to gain substantial illicit revenues. Through electronic theft or computer manipulation of markets, individuals or small crime groups could cause substantial public and private-sector losses, potentially even undermining the integrity of the institutions they target and compromising market stability.
- Meanwhile, for the same reasons, large organized crime syndicates may well be even more self-sufficient by 2010. The trend of greater cooperation among criminal organizations at the end of the 20thcentury may be replaced by one in which large international crime groups--because they have worldwide networks and employ highly skilled professionals--are able to produce or acquire, move, market, and distribute drugs and other contraband without any reliance on outside criminal brokers or crime groups. Such a development could mean the end of the dominance of Latin American drug-trafficking "cartels" as other criminal groups gain the ability to acquire and traffic cocaine from Latin America on their own.
- The criminal world in 2010 may be populated by large interactive networks of smaller, independent organizations who cooperate on the basis of comparative advantage. Crime groups within these networks would specialize in specific activities, trading or selling expertise as befits their criminal interests or criminal joint ventures.
- Criminal groups are also most likely to take advantage of scientific and manufacturing advances to produce new synthetic drugs or more high-quality counterfeit products--including high-tech components that may find their way into commercial transportation or military programs. Successful eradication efforts against narcotics crops may spur criminal organizations to exploit scientific pharmaceutical advances to produce synthetic heroin and cocaine for the illicit drug market.
- Organized crime groups that have access to formidable weapons arsenals may assume a far more significant role in brokering illicit arms transactions for foreign armies, militias, or insurgencies, displacing the brokers and businesses that dominate today's gray arms market. They may also become a viable alternative to independent brokers and front companies by establishing sophisticated acquisition, transportation, and financial networks to facilitate the evasion of US or international sanctions by rogue regimes and terrorist groups.
- So far the threat of organized crime involvement in acquiring and trafficking nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons of mass destruction has been more potential than real. This potential may be realized by the end of the decade if the political and economic climates in countries both possessing and seeking WMD capabilities changed to make engineering such transactions more practical and less risky.
- By 2010, international criminal groups are most likely to be particularly proficient at exploiting computer networks upon which all modern government, public, private, and financial services will depend. They also may be able to cause significant disruption to financial systems. Criminal organizations may be capable of financially exploiting or disrupting government, law enforcement, banking, or private-sector computer systems they are able to penetrate, undermining public services and the credibility of government and private institutions.
- Greater regional integration and worldwide interdependence of national economies will make it easier for criminal organizations to operate on an international scale and blend their operations into legitimate economic activity. Improvements in transportation infrastructures and modalities to facilitate international trade will increase the volume, speed, and efficiency of smuggling and commercial transactions by international crime groups.
- The world in 2010 may see the emergence of "criminal states" that are not merely safehavens for international criminal activities, but support them as a matter of course. The involvement of "criminal states" in the community of nations could undermine international finance and commerce and preclude effective international cooperation against organized crime. "Criminal states" may also adopt the political agendas of states of concern and terrorist groups, thereby weakening US political, economic, and security interests around the world.
Global Context of International Crime
International Crimes Affecting US Interests
Worldwide Areas of International Criminal Activity
Consequences for US Strategic Interests
The Future of International Crime
|This Global assessment was prepared by a US Government interagency working group in support of and pursuant to the President's International Crime Control Strategy. Representatives from the Central Intelligence Agency; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Drug Enforcement Administration; US Customs Service; US Secret Service; Financial Crimes Enforcement Network; National Drug Intelligence Center; the Departments of State, the Treasury, Justice, and Transportation; the Office of National Drug Control Policy; and the National Security Council participated in the drafting of this assessment.|