Newsletter

KOREA: GANGSTERS HAVE A HARD TIME MAKING ENDS MEET

The Korea Institute of Criminology on Monday painted a grim picture of organized crime here based on an in-depth survey of convicted Mafiosi. The institute sent questionnaires to 109 imprisoned gang members and selected 29 for further interview. The results show that while movies often portray crime syndicates as a lucrative workplace, the luxurious lifestyle has disappeared for all but a few bosses and the much-vaunted loyalty of gang members has practically disappeared.

◆ Scraping a dishonest living

The research shows crime syndicates involved in on average 3.9 industries like gambling and running bars and clubs. Among syndicates, 30 percent earn W100-500 million (US$1=W940.10) a year, and 18.9 percent earn over W1 billion. Among gang members, the biggest group of 29.2 percent claimed they earned W1-3 million a month, closely followed by those saying they made W3-5 million (28.1 percent) and W5-10 million (22.5 percent). But in reality, most ordinary thugs barely scrape a living in the underworld. Gangs are pyramid organizations, and only one in hundreds rises to the top. The rest live on the edge of poverty. The KIC quotes one former gangster as saying, “I didn’t even have gas money” while others complained they lacked the cash to go out.

Research reveals that retaliation is now rare even if gang members defect, partly because gangs know how hard the life of a rank-and-file shyster can be. Park Gyung-rae, a researcher involved in the project, says some gangsters exaggerate their earnings out of pride. “In reality, most of them live poorly,” he adds. In one case, a gangster who joined a syndicate at 17 remained flat broke till leaving at the age of 32.

◆ Money before loyalty

Movies often depict gangsters as committed to an overblown honor code, but gangsters say that is history. No boss today would hand over a bar he controls to a loyal member for free, and bosses who fail to rake in the money get no respect, gangsters say. Senior gangsters charge interest when they lend money to the rank and file, and some bosses commit suicide due to poverty. A member of an old-style gang waxed nostalgic about the past, when hoods followed orders without question. “Young gangsters these days don’t even bow to their seniors if they are poor,” he lamented. The generation gap apparently also afflicts the underworld. “Even gangsters worry about how spoiled young people are these days,” the old-timer is quoted as saying.

◆ Job satisfaction

However, job satisfaction among gangsters was higher than in the police, according to the study. Despite rampant disloyalty and paltry earnings, 12.3 percent of crime syndicate members said they were satisfied with their life, compared to only 9.5 percent of police in a 2004 survey. The KIC attributes this to lingering illusions about the lifestyle of a gangster nourished by films.

In other findings, the proportion of bosses and underbosses who had connections with the judiciary and business circles was high at 31.8 percent and 45.5 percent. Some 22.7 percent of syndicate leaders had a network of political connections, either for the sake of dodging the wages of sin or to make money through their connections.

◆ Symbiotic relationships

The KIC says crime syndicates are no longer “parasites” who take other people’s money but “partners” who run legitimate business by forming ties with influential figures. But while some say the actual crime committed by organized crime is on the wane, others warn that it is simply more subtle and thus even more damaging to society, the KIC reports.

Chosun.com 30 January 2007

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CRIME

Interpol has renewed its efforts on combating intellectual property crime claiming that counterfeiters are expanding the extent and scope of their activities.

MEXICO DRUG CRIME OUT OF CONTROL SAYS PRESIDENT

MADRID (Reuters) – Organized crime is running out of control in Mexico, Mexican President Felipe Calderon told the Spanish newspaper El Pais in an interview published on Sunday.

“Organized crime is getting out of control and is causing serious worries in some regions of the country, like Michoacan,” Calderon said. “Murder rates were exceeding those of Colombia at one point.” On Friday Mexico extradited four drug kingpins to the United States, striking a blow against warring cartels that killed 2,000 people last year and have turned large areas into lawless badlands.

President Calderon took office in December and has sent troops and elite police units to tackle drug gangs and halt a surge in violence as rival cartels fight over smuggling routes and drug fields. Killings linked to drug trafficking in the province of Michoacan have fallen nearly 70 percent from appallingly high figures last month, he said, but he told the newspaper there was a lot more work to do. Continued collaboration with the United States to fight drug crime was essential, he said. “The United States, unfortunately, is the biggest consumer of drugs in the world. That fosters this extreme drug-trafficking phenomenon in Mexico,” he said.
“It’s a very simple equation — you can’t get a significant reduction in drug supply if there’s not a significant reduction in demand.”

On a surge in the price of staple tortillas, Calderon said he would increase imports in order to discourage speculation and hoarding by traders. “The complexity of this situation goes far beyond what the Mexican government can do, and I dare say, any government,” he said. “Corn has moved from $81 a ton, to nearly $160 in a couple of months. “We will be severe, firm and relentless in cases of speculative abuse,” he said.

The recent price increases in the flat corn bread, driven by soaring U.S. demand for ethanol fuel made from corn, have pushed up inflation and hurt millions of Mexican households that serve tortillas with nearly every meal.

Sun Jan 21, 2007

CALL FOR PAPERS: FINANCIAL OFF-SHORING AND UNDER-GROUNDING

In recent decades the increasing volume and fluidity of banking and financial markets has depended on the “neutrality” attributed to the capital handled in the markets, as far as its origin and final destination are concerned. Nevertheless, in a context where the war against organized crime, money laundering and terrorism finance has become a worldwide public priority, the end of capital neutrality poses an interesting dilemma: what relationship exists between the quest for efficient allocation of resources and safeguarding the integrity of financial flows themselves from the risks of contamination related to the activities of criminal organisations? How to regulate phenomena as the financial offshoring, the informal credit markets, and to contrast at the same time the financial crime?

The Workshop will focus on the economics of grey an black finance. We wish to invite theoretical and empirical papers that explore different areas of interest, including: financial offshoring, underground and informal banking, money laundering, terrorism finance, usury, financial crime and law enforcement.

Papers will be presented in a plenary presentation of 30 minutes each, followed by a 15 minutes of discussion. Overall participation at the Workshop will be limited to 30 people. All copyrights of the papers will be retained by the authors.

The Workshop will take place at the Bocconi University in Milan, on October, 12, 2007. The Bocconi University will refund economy-class travel expenses and will cover accommodation for paper presenters and discussants.

Authors are invited to submit electronically (MS Word or PDF format) a complete paper. The first page of the paper should contain the title; name of the author(s), complete address, telephone, fax numbers and E-mail addresses. Please indicate in your cover letter whether you would be willing to serve as a session chair and/or discussant. All submitted papers must be accompanied by an abstract of at least 250 words, but no more than 400 words. Submit your paper to: donato.masciandaro@unibocconi.it

The deadline for submissions is within June, 30. Authors will be notified about the acceptance of their papers by July 15, 2007.

QUEENSLAND: BLACK TRADE IN SEX FLOURISHES

ORGANISED crime is strengthening its grip on Queensland’s prostitution industry, thwarting attempts by police and the State Government to control the flourishing trade in sex.

Legal brothel operators frustrated by ineffective policing of the laws governing the sale of sexual services claim illegal operators meet regularly for breakfast to discuss their industry, that crime figures have arranged for some taxi drivers to be paid commissions to drive passengers to illegal brothels, and prostitutes are taking part in organised sex tours of rural towns.

The Courier-Mail also has been told that an Asian crime gang with Australian partners has operated Asian gambling tours to the Gold Coast where prostitutes were made available free of charge. The group made most of its money through high interest rates charged on large gambling loans to clients. The organisation representing the state’s 23 legal brothels said attempts by police to seek out those who helped organise Queensland’s huge illegal escort agency had not quelled its growth. “It’s bigger and better than it ever has been,” said Nick Inskip, spokesman for the Queensland Adult Business Association.

It is 20 years since reporting on illegal prostitution by The Courier-Mail, and follow-ups by the ABC, led to the Fitzgerald inquiry and the subsequent exposure of a corrupt police force involved in running brothels and accepting bribes in return for protection. There is no suggestion police are involved in the current resurgence of illegal prostitution. On the contrary, they are hamstrung in their efforts to stem the growth of illegal operators. Invitations for the police to comment for this series of articles were declined.

But the Queensland Adult Business Association, representing the state’s 23 legal brothels, is an outspoken opponent of the new regulatory system. Its members pay tens of thousands of dollars in licence fees, income and company tax, only to see the illegal industry thrive, tax-free. Mr Inskip said the illegal industry had been transformed by technology. “It takes advantage today of the internet, of new technologies, a whole range of different techniques to advantage themselves . . . they can recruit as they like.”

In Queensland, about 25 per cent of the sex industry is legal and takes the form of licensed brothels. The remaining 75 per cent is comprised of individual or solo sex workers who operate legally if they work alone, and the state’s massive illegal escort industry. Mr Inskip said the illegal industry had organised individual workers into networks of what otherwise would appear to be legal solo sex workers. He said there was evidence of the illegal industry recruiting teenage schoolgirls to work as escorts and perform sex work after school hours.

One sex worker, Mr Inskip said, had told him she and her friend were recruited when 16-year-old schoolgirls in a regional centre by a woman from an illegal brothel. They told him the enforcers included a number of taxi drivers and that the operation was highly organised. Legal solo sex workers in the bush had told him of organised illegal sex workers moving from town to town providing services advertised in local papers. Several of those interviewed told The Courier-Mail the current law that allowed prostitutes to operate provided they worked alone was almost impossible to enforce as any illegal organisation behind them was virtually invisible. Some solo sex workers were acting legitimately when they obtained clients themselves and illegally when they accepted clients offered by syndicated phone and escort services. An illegal operation could change identity simply by replacing SIM cards on mobile phones.

The contradictions in the regulation of prostitution are easy to find. While Queensland’s Prostitution Licensing Authority spends its time poring over the wording of newspaper ads submitted by legal brothels, escort agencies – illegal in Queensland – are able to place large display ads in Brisbane’s Yellow Pages under the guise of offering “companionship services”. Mr Inskip said illegal agencies that advertised in the Yellow Pages did not openly admit to offering sex services, so without using entrapment techniques, police would have difficulties obtaining evidence to close them. And even if they did entrap and charge a sex worker, the escort agency could claim it had arranged a meeting for companionship only. It was not in control of events and any exchange of money after that was strictly between the sex worker and the client.

Mr Inskip said illegal operators had harnessed the internet, posing as clients giving recommendations and reviews of various sex workers and escort services in blogs. Ray Van Haven, a Dutchman and owner of the Oasis legal brothel in Sumner Park, said he paid more than $20,000 a year in licensing fees, company tax, income tax, and WorkCover fees only to see the illegal industry, which pays nothing, operate with impunity. Mr Van Haven said criminals were approaching legal owners with offers that showed the illicit sex industry was being well organised by large-scale operators. He had refused an offer to supply him with dozens of girls from what he believed was an overseas crime organisation. “They could organise as many women as I wanted from whatever age that I wanted from a number of countries that I wanted, at any time,” he said. “They’re very big operators to the extent you can wonder how fair it is to the legal operators to work in that environment.”

Another problem is that a lot of the escort agency sector is organised on a national basis – something that would make efforts by individual state authorities piecemeal. A typical scenario put to us was: a man staying in a Brisbane hotel telephones an escort service number which is then diverted to a receptionist in Sydney. The receptionist calls what otherwise would be a legal sole worker in Brisbane who visits the man’s hotel in Brisbane. It appears from the outside to be a legally operating solo sex worker providing an outcall service.

Mr Inskip said interstate-run escort services also had organised groups of workers to visit men in male-dominated parts of rural and regional Queensland such as mining regions. They were organised into motel units so they would appear to be sole traders and their services advertised as such in regional papers – who also believed they were sole traders.

Prostitution researcher and sociologist Professor Jake Najman said he knew of a scam where calls to a Queensland escort service were diverted across the border to Tweed Heads from where a sexual service was organised. These schemes were illegal but the border hop made them difficult to police. The large proportion of ads for Asian sex workers has fuelled concern that some of these are being organised by syndicates, again camouflaged as solo worker services.

Mr Inskip said some of these sex workers appeared to be bona fide Asian students who went to university but also undertook sex work organised for them even before they arrived in Australia.

The Courier Mail 22 January 2007

RESEARCH ASSISTANT

The Centre for Criminology (University of Oxford) is looking for a Research Assistant to provide research support to Professor Federico Varese. Further information can be found here.

LINK LIST

The Tuebingen Institute of Criminology has updated its extensive link list. Its has become an impressive list of Websites/URLs on Criminology, Criminal Justice, Corrections etc.

CHINA: TASKFORCES TO PROBE CHOPPING SPREE

GUANGZHOU: Police have established special taskforces to investigate what has become a spate of murder-dismemberment cases.

In the latest cases, two dismembered bodies were found this weekend in Guangzhou and Foshan. The emergence of these cases follows the arrest this weekend of two suspects for the murder and dismemberment of a third victim in an unrelated case. “Police are investigating the two cases and have promised to solve them soon,” a police officer from the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Public Security said yesterday.

In the most recent case, environmental sanitation workers found human body parts wrapped in three yellow plastic bags in the Shijing River in Guangzhou’s Baiyun District on Sunday afternoon. Police quickly secured the scene and took the body parts to the lab for further investigation. Police suspect the victim was a black man.

On Saturday, a woman’s body parts were discovered in three refrigerators at the store she ran in Xiabei Village, in Foshan’s Nanhai District. The woman’s head and legs are still missing. The woman, who was thought to be in her 30s, was a native of Hunan Province. Her husband, an employee at a local molding factory, has been detained for questioning. The couple apparently quarrelled regularly.

And in the earliest case, police arrested a couple suspected of killing and dismembering a man and then sending his body parts to three different cities in cardboard boxes. The man had apparently had an affair with the woman suspect, who was a prostitute.

Liu Ancheng, director of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Public Security, said police were working to solve every homicide case in this province in South China. Guangdong has the country’s highest crime rate. Liu told a press conference in the provincial capital of Guangzhou yesterday that police would work to uphold social order. “Guangdong will never become a haven for criminals from the mainland or abroad,” he said. Liu hinted that provincial authorities were planning to launch more anti-crime campaigns in the near future.

The crime rate in Guangdong usually peaks around the lunar new year, which falls on February 18 this year, because of the warm weather in the province. Liu said Guangdong police would spare no effort in their fight against crime during the new year holiday. In addition to homicide, the special campaigns will also target street theft, breaking and entering and organized crime.

Guangdong police have also promised to expand police patrols in business districts and on major streets. And new police stations will be built along the province’s expressways in the coming months. Liu said police had launched a campaign code-named Yueying 3, or Guangdong Eagle 3, on December 25 that had yielded positive results. Between December 25 and January 12, Guangdong police solved 2,596 criminal cases, including 41 homicides, and detained 2,397 suspects.

The campaign is also thought to have reduced the number of criminal gangs and triads operating in the province. Yueying 3 will wrap up at the end of March. Police have also solved 467 drug and related cases, seizing 11.6 kilograms of heroine, 789 kilograms of ice and more than 1.59 million ecstasy pills in the past three weeks.

(China Daily 01/16/2007 page4)

CALL FOR PAPERS: 2007 HUMSEC CONFERENCE

The Call for Papers for the 2007 HUMSEC Conference has been published. The conference is to be held 4-6 October 2007 in Sarajevo, titles of proposed papers, plus abstracts of approximately 350 words are invited no later than 31 March 2007.

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