Paedophiles are using offshore gold accounts as a new method to mask their identities when buying child pornography on the web, an internet watchdog said today. Individuals are buying gold using specialist websites and then using that as “currency” with illegal websites that have similar accounts. Read more.


More than a billion rands’ worth of suspected criminal assets have been frozen since the formation of South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) Assets Forfeiture Unit (AFU) seven years ago.

Vusi Pikoli, the NPA national director, has told a parliamentary hearing that this sum indicates the size of what he calls “the criminal economy”.

Read the full and related stories


The 2006 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) is an annual report by the Department of State to Congress prepared in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act. It describes the efforts of key countries to attack all aspects of the international drug trade in Calendar Year 2005 and was released March 1, 2006.
Volume I covers drug and chemical control activities. Volume II covers money laundering and financial crimes. Full report.


A course at Roma Tre’s faculty of law on the history and culture of the mafia is proving wildly popular with students

Enzo Ciconte, former member of parliament for the Partito Comunista Italiano between 1987 and 1992, renowned mafia expert, historian and a consultant to the parliamentary anti-mafia committee, is sitting in his small but panoramic office near the Pantheon. In between numerous phone calls, he is vivaciously explaining why running the first course – begun last year – on the birth and development of organised crime in Italy at the faculty of law of the Università di Roma Tre is one of the best things he’s ever been involved in. “I am convinced that the students who take part in the course will bring an anti-mafia approach and a spirit of legality to their profession,” he says. “If students choose a course like this it means they have an ideal or moral motivation that is pushing them, something extra.”
Read the full story.


Thousands of pirate DVDs have been seized following an undercover police operation in the city. Plain clothes police officers carried out the operation in the Locksbrook Road area, where one officer was offered a pirate DVD for sale. Following this lead, officers raided a house and seized 4,000 counterfeit DVDs with a street value of around £20,000. Police say only a large organised crime operation can be behind producing a haul of this size.

Among the discs police have seized are copies of films which are still at the cinema in the UK and will not be legitimately released on DVD for months. Titles included Final Destination 3, King Kong, The Chronicles Of Narnia and Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. During the raid, officers also discovered a processing room with hi-tech equipment to produce discs.
Alongside this, officers found DVDs packaged and ready to sell illegally. Det Sgt Gary Stephens, from Bath CID, said the operation had been a big success. “The indication from a seizure of this size is that organised crime is involved,” he said. “This is one point for us to target organised crime. “It also goes to show that pirating DVDs is not always a cottage industry. “We were astonished by the quantity of DVDs that were recovered. “Other equipment seized included thousands of printed inserts, DVD storage spindles and covers for sealing the finished product. “In total there are 13 evidence bags full of items which we believe were destined to be sold illegally.”

The seizure comes just days after a new police unit, dedicated to combating film piracy, was launched in London. The Metropolitan Police’s Economic and Specialist Crime Command will work jointly with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) to investigate piracy offences. Top of the new unit’s list are the large organisations making vast sums of money selling pirate DVDs. Mr Stephens said: “Our investigation will complement the work of Fact, which is working hard to collate intelligence on crime trends and criminal activity in the area of film piracy offences. “This sort of crime can not only be damaging to legitimate film manufacture and distribution but also linked to more serious crime.”

Raymond Leinster, director general of Fact, welcomed the police operation and said: “DVD and film piracy is a crime and these arrests show that the organised crime operations behind much of the piracy are targeting towns and cities across the UK, bringing other criminality along with them. “Avon and Somerset police is working with Fact to identify and arrest those responsible for such crimes.” DVD piracy is seen as high profit and relatively low risk compared to other crimes. Piracy can also be more profitable that drug dealing. According to a report by Interpol, one kilo of pirated discs is worth more than one kilo of cannabis resin. Three people were arrested following the raid at the house in Bristol. Two have been bailed pending further inquiries and a third will appear in court at a later date.

28 february 2006


The incentive to smuggle guns into Colombia is doubled because the cocaine received in exchange for guns is consistently in high demand. Trading one product – guns – in high demand for another – cocaine – with even higher demand is good business. This market is inherently transnational, beyond the control of any single government. Read the full story.


The Centre of Asian Studies (CAS), at the University of Hong Kong, is convening a new phase of workshops focused on Asian regionalism. These workshops build on the highly successful China-ASEAN and China-India Roundtables that have been running since 1998 and 2001, respectively; with the overall objective of fostering and enhancing regional academic dialogue and policy exchanges. The first workshop was held in Hong Kong in December 2005 on the topic of Governance and Regionalism in Asia. The second workshop will be held on the 7th and 8th of December 2006 in partnership with the Asian Center, University of the Philippines.

The second workshop in this series aims to explore the emerging forms and modalities of contemporary irregular migration in Asia, with a focus on the patterns and substance of illegal migration, people smuggling and human trafficking. As the East Asian region has integrated for the greater good of its peoples, markets and states new challenges have emerged. The increased intra-regional movement of people for work or pleasure is one manifestation of closer ties between the countries of Asia. But just as the 1997 Asian financial crisis was a negative manifestation of closer economic ties between regional states, so too the illegal movement of peoples across national borders is a challenge arising from the closer links between regional peoples and societies.

Irregular migration is one of the main criminal offences of the 21st century. In its most benign manifestation it involves the subversion of legal and regulatory regimes in multiple countries or jurisdictions. While the act of human trafficking, along with that of narcotics and small arms, earns criminal organisations and their customers billions of dollars in direct and indirect revenues. In the Asia-Pacific there are significant flows of illegal migrants for labour and/or sexual exploitation, both intra-regionally as well as to other parts of the world. These flows are driven by both supply and demand factors within a general environment of regional and global economic disparities for many of the source and transit countries.

We are now calling for paper abstracts for this workshop. Papers should be interdisciplinary in nature and could explore (but are not limited to):
Ø Theoretical and Historical Perspectives on Irregular Human Flows in Asia
Ø Comparative Domestic Approaches to Illegal Migration
Ø Case studies of Northeast, Southeast and South Asian Patterns
Ø Extra-regional Flows
Ø Role of Regional Institutions and International Organisations

For more information on these topics and what subthemes are being sought, see the website.

Successful applicants will be invited to participate in the Workshop to be held in Manila. Dependent on final confirmation of funding, travel and accommodation expenses will be covered by the organisers. It is intended that the papers will be published either as a special issue of a major academic journal or an edited volume and so will be expected to be in the order 7-9,000 words.

The co-organisers invite the submission of Paper Proposals on the above themes. Proposals should not exceed 1500 words. A one-page CV, including a list of recent relevant publications, should also be submitted at the same time. The closing date is Friday 31 March 2006. E-mail applications are preferred.

Please send paper proposals and CV to:
Asian Regionalism Project
Centre of Asian Studies
The University of Hong Kong,
Pokfulam Rd, Hong Kong SAR
E-mail: Ms Louise Mak
Web Site:


Organised Crime in History

Organised crime is often considered an essentially modern phenomenon. To some it is a product of the influx of immigrants to the United States in the late nineteenth century, brought to the boil in the Prohibition years. Especially adventurous souls may look even further back into history, to the seventeenth-century pirates who ravaged the Atlantic and the Caribbean.

However, the roots of organised crime are in primal human characteristics: the natural tendency for criminals to band together and specialize; the weaknesses of state and community institutions and the opportunities this creates for illegal structures; and the patronage and corruption existing within every body politic. Thus, from the protection racketeers of Ancient Rome to Aztec cocoa-bean counterfeiters, the murderers-for-hire of the original Assassins of Alamut to the fifteenth-century French Coquillards, organised crime has always lurked in the shadowy underside of organised society.

This special issue of the journal Global Crime, will be edited by Mark Galeotti, visiting professor at the School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers – Newark, USA, and director of the Organised Russian & Eurasian crime Research Unit at Keele University, UK. It seeks to reclaim the history of organised crime around the world and explore its many ways and forms and in particular its relationship to its host society. Contributions are welcome from historians, archaeologists, political scientists, criminologists, anthropologists and any scholars willing to cast a light into these shadows. The intention is that this special issue may also be published in book form.

Global Crime is a peer-reviewed journal published by Routledge devoted to high-calibre scholarship on serious and organised crime. Its coverage is not just on Organised crime in the strict sense, but on a wide range of criminal activities, from corruption, illegal market transactions, state crime and terrorism. This focus is deliberately broad and multi-disciplinary, its first aim being to make the best scholarship available to specialists and non-specialists alike. It endorses no particular orthodoxy and draws on authors from a variety of disciplines, including history, sociology, economics, political science, anthropology and area studies. Visit the web page of the journal.

The deadline for submitting abstracts to Dr Galeotti ( is 1 April 2006. We expect to receive the papers by 30 September 2006.


Over the past 10 years or more, with reference to the dangers of organized crime, the entire system of criminal law has undergone a series of fundamental changes. However, it has still not been clarified what defines organized crime and exactly wherein the particular danger lies. Jorg Kinzig of the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg has compiled a study that shows that organized crime is primarily a paraphrase for a new approach to investigation and prosecution. Full story (PDF).


Serbia recently adopted a law establishing a programme to protect those whose lives may be in danger as a result of testifying in court. The move is expected to strengthen the fight against organised crime.

Serbian Interior Minister Dragan Jocic and US Ambassador to Belgrade Michael Polt signed an agreement earlier this month on US assistance for setting up a witness protection programme in Serbia. The United States is providing Serbia with training as well as $75,000 for implementation.

A law establishing such a programme in Serbia came into effect on 1 January. The police unit that will guard the endangered individuals was formed in September 2005, and 12 Serbian police officers have already trained for the job in the United States.

Under the new law, protection will be given to witnesses, victims, defendants, judges, and court experts — as well as members of their families — if their lives are placed in danger as a result of testimony at trials. Protected persons will be hidden in Serbia and in neighbouring countries. Police can change their identity or even their physical appearance.

Jocic and Polt agreed that witness protection is crucial in the fight against the most severe forms of organised crime. According to Jocic, the knowhow provided by the United States is “invaluable in the implementation of the witness protection programme, which is one of the most important elements in the battle against organised crime”.

“This US donation will conspicuously contribute to the implementation of the protection programme and is one more step forward in establishing the Serbian government’s priority — the rule of law,” Jocic said at the 2 February signing.

Polt praised the Serbian government for adopting the new law, and said he is happy to co-ordinate with the justice ministry. Establishing a firm rule of law is the foundation of every democratic country and the lack of a justice system jeopardises a society’s values, he said.

Polt also said that witness protection is crucial in the fight against organised crime, including transnational crime. Serbia must keep enhancing its legal framework to ensure fair processes and safety for all victims and witnesses — “a necessary step” for the country’s full Euro-Atlantic integration, the ambassador said.

The United States will assist Serbia in the battle against corruption and crime, in finalising war crimes trials and in establishing an efficient and reliable legal system, free of political influence, Polt added.

The aid to Serbian police will be realised through the US Justice Ministry Permanent Legal Adviser’s programme and the US Marshal Service.

Published on SETimes (

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