Organized crime and human trafficking are among the grave problems of contemporary society. The evidence shows that these types of crimes are widespread in the world, and particularly in the United States. Consequently, the US authorities should consider the factor of organized crime and human trafficking when they develop local, national and international policies. Despite the fact that each country in the world has implemented certain steps to fight the issues, public claims propose to apply certain changes in the development of the state anti-crime policy. The following paper presents the statistics, legal facts, and public opinion proposing various steps to combat organized crime and human trafficking in the US. There is a presumption that more improvements should be implemented in the existing programs to raise the efficiency in elimination of the crime problems.
The Problem of Organized Crime in the US
Organized crime (OC) is one of the serious problems in the US. The evidence shows that it is spread in various states differently. Moreover, there is a threat to the country from various criminal groups from the external environment. As a rule, the organized crime groups present an international threat. Thus, there is a need for the country to restrict access to international crime to operate in the country. Moreover, the anti-crime policy has to include strategies for fighting domestic organized crime. Consequently, the local and federal law regulators have to consider both aspects of the issue for the definition of the policy. Also, in order to describe the problem of organized crime, a clear definition is required.
The legal system has been fighting OC for centuries. At the same time, scholars state the difference in their definitions, which may vary depending on the focus of the issue. Consequently, the character of the definition influences the choice of methods fighting OC. In order to clearly define the alarming case, van Dijk (2007) raises the need for answering the list of substantial questions. They lead to the responses that assist in distinguishing the organized crime from other types of crimes by discussing its essential characteristics. Moreover, the answers should lead to the stipulation of the notion of OC under scrutiny.
Based on the commonality in definitions, one of the distinctive features of organized crime is its attempt to influence the mechanisms of its social control. The reason for the behavior is resultant from the ability of law offenders to cooperate. The quality of OC in perspective leads to the implantation of its representatives into the mechanisms of social control. The situation results in the corruption of the legal system, which aggravates the problem of the management of OC. Therefore, the proper definition of organized crime is an illegal activity that may influence any social or economic sphere. It uses criminal methods systematically, often with the aim of financial profit. Moreover, it abuses its social connections to implement the influence on the legal bodies and businesses.
The typical representatives of OC are gangs and criminal syndicates. The mentioned OC groups involved in various criminal activities. Moreover, the scope of all their illegal activities is not restricted to economic, commercial, electronic crimes or violent actions. Different types of small and big crimes, such as robbery, smuggling, theft, murder, rape, kidnapping, money laundering, and racketeering, are used to support the criminal organization. Furthermore, Finklea (2010) indicates features that may serve as attributes of the organized crime groups. The scholar suggests structure, restricted membership, continuity, violence or the threat of violence, illegal enterprises, legitimate business penetration, corruption, and lack of ideology as the major peculiarities of OC. Thus, organized crime is identified not just by its methods, but by the features of its routine actions and structure within the society. Moreover, its threat to the government grades from the intimidation to the citizens of the country to the dangers for national economy and security. The latter threat rises from the wish of the organized crime group members to escape investigation, prosecution, and punishment. Thus, the local, state and federal regulators have to develop special policy addressing the particularly dangerous type of crime.
One of the issues closely connected to organized crime is human trafficking (HT). Its essence is based on a legal action, which later turns into illegal control of an individual. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime defines the issue as “the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them”. The degree of human exploitation may vary. Interpol defines several types: trafficking in women for sexual abuse; trafficking aiming at mandatory labor; sexual abuse of children; and trafficking aiming to obtain organs. Each of the activities is a grave crime against humanity, and it should be prosecuted and punished appropriately. Research claims that HT is a serious problem in developing countries. However, there is evidence that human trafficking generates $9.5 billion of income for criminals annually in the U.S. alone. Thus, the US is not an exclusion from the list of countries that require the action plan to mitigate the problem.
Moreover, contemporary mass media addresses human trafficking as one of the crucial problems for American society. For instance, U.S. News states that:
Modern-day slavery is happening right before our eyes. Girls, women and even young boys are imprisoned in brothels, controlled by pimps on the street and tortured if they resist. Many toils in fields, factories, and fishing boats for little or no pay, beaten if they try to escape. (Krulak & Freeh, 2015)
Furthermore, some news agencies send the request and petitions to deputies and regulators providing various solutions. For example, reporters from CNN indicate that some problems are connected with data collection and analysis. At the same time, the media claims that the reports of HT in recent years indicate a significant drop in a number of detectable cases. For instance, the reports in 2012 show the efficiency of mitigation actions, as the success rate doubled from 18% to 36%. Thus, media involvement serves as a deep social concern about the issue of human trafficking. Therefore, there is a strong need for an effective anti-human trafficking policy to be implemented.
State Policy Addressing Organized Crime and Human Trafficking
The task of fighting organized crime and human trafficking cannot be fulfilled by one particular organization. Due to the complexity of the nature of OC, various departments and institutions have to unite their resources and efforts. The cooperation significantly increases the efficiency of detecting the offenders, catching them and planning their further prosecution and punishment. Moreover, the unified effort aims at achieving the effective elimination of OC on the domestic and international levels. Therefore, the first step in policymaking is deputies understanding of the importance of united response. As Deputy Attorney General Cole claims:
We realized that law enforcement measures alone would not fully counter the threat of transnational organized crime. Included in this approach was: the work of our Department of the Treasury to impose financial sanctions on major transnational organized crime groups and individuals. (The US Department of Justice, 2015).
Moreover, regulators pay special attention to the issue of human trafficking. Thus, Deputy Attorney General Cole also stressed the need for “enhanced global attention and a unified law enforcement response to fight against human trafficking”.
The key organization combating organized crime is the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The institution serves as a main regulating body, an initiator and an executor of the processes that fight OC. Thus, Finklea (2010) points out that the branch The Transnational Criminal Enterprise Section has direct responsibility for fighting organized crime. Moreover, the division is split into units investigating Italian, Eurasian/Middle Eastern, and Asian and African groups and gangs to increase efficiency. The FBI implements two principal actions when combating OC and HT. Firstly, they identify the organization and its actions. Secondly, they allocate the financial sources for the gang elimination. Thirdly, they start the operation against OC. Thus, it is essential for the FBI to cooperate with their local associates and other federal agencies to fulfill the aforementioned mission.
Furthermore, fighting domestic organized crime should be linked to federal and international policy in order to increase its efficiency. The government of the US has developed a National Security Strategy to combat the organized crime within the borders. Its primary goals are protecting Americans and partners from the harm of transnational criminal networks (TCN); assisting to strengthen governance and transparency as well as fighting corruption; breaking up the economic power of TCN and protect strategic markets from penetration and abuse; defeat of TCN; building international consensus and cooperation (National Security Office, 2011). Furthermore, the policy fighting against domestic organized crime has become weaker in recent years. The reason is that the government shifts resources to addressing international threats such as terrorism. For instance, there is evidence that the FBI’s efficiency towards domestic OC has lowered, which leads to an increase in the number of cases of organized crime (as shown in Figure 1). Also, agent utilization gradually drops. Finklea (2010) explains the reason for rendering the fight with OC as the sixth-highest priority matters, which utilizes 35% of agents. Consequently, the FBI diverted agents from traditional crime squads to counterterrorism squads. In conditions of resource reallocation, the overall efficiency of the anti-organized crime policy drops.
Figure 1. Organized crime cases filed with the U.S. Attorney’s affices
The anti-crime policy proposed based on the analysis aims to increase the efficiency of anti-organized crime activities. The policy focus should be on the development of advanced cooperation between various bodies and departments in order to identify the OC members and investigate their activities. Moreover, cooperation with antiterrorist departments is important. In fact, the evidence shows that various terrorist organizations connect with OC members in order to obtain weapons or information. The new policy has to consider the interconnections between different crime groups in the first place while providing information for anti-OC departments. Furthermore, revealed membership in an OC structure should be prosecuted and punished. The action is important in order to prevent criminal structure from future growth. The agents should investigate the sources and personas that might be involved in corrupt legal schemes. In order to reveal the undercover connections, the FBI has to implement advanced cooperation with the banks and law offices. Thus, it is important to track the origin and the final destination of financial flows involving a large amount of money. Finally, the conditions of human labor should also be examined in order to reveal cases of forced labor in OC-owned premises.
In addition, the financial aspect of the problem of human trafficking should be addressed. Thus, unemployment should be considered as a factor that contributes to the increase in gang membership and human trafficking. The agencies have to track the unemployed citizens. Moreover, they might organize various consultations for decreasing the level of unemployment and informing of the threat of HT. Basically, unemployment is a manifestation of the country’s inefficient social policy. It is claimed that the flawed social sphere has a direct correlation with the rates of organized crime. Therefore, the state should consider solving negative socio-economic problems. Furthermore, various social and political institutions, as well as businesses, should be protected from the intrusion of organized crime. As Secretary of the State John Kerry indicated in 2014, “Wherever rule of law is weak, where corruption is most ingrained, and where populations can’t count on the protection of governments and of law enforcement, there you find zones of vulnerability to trafficking”. The gravest case of such intrusion is the entrance of OC in the criminal justice system. Based on the dangers of OC, the legal bodies and institutions should be thoroughly protected. The protection should involve assuring both physical defense and financial independence. Moreover, the public sector should be secure from the attempts of lobbying by the criminal structures. Often, OC attempt to block or enact laws in order to achieve profits. In many cases, the illegal activities occur at the customs. Buscaglia (2003) suggests a correlation between the low efficiency of the customs system and the high levels of organized crime. Therefore, one of the most important factors in the elimination of OC is the understanding of its impact on the stakeholders.
The society often misunderstands the role of the anti-criminal policy. One of the reasons, as described by Frost and Monteiro (2011), is that in some states “the criminal justice policymaking process is largely insulated from the public influence and opinion”. Furthermore, the authors claim the perception of people about the crime is not particularly accurate. Thus, the designers of the anti-organized crime policy should broadly explain to the public the aims of their plans. Consequently, the measures would remove any misconception about the issue.
Furthermore, there are claims from the victims of human trafficking. One of their main factors is that they require assistance from the state to return to normal life. Moreover, the factors that further aggravate the situation are that they are prosecuted as well as the criminals. Thus, the situation requires serious changes to defend the victims of human trafficking from criminal punishment. Consequently, the proposed policy measures address the weakest point of the existing programs in fighting organized crime and human trafficking. Their implementation would foster the detection of organized criminal groups, prevent corruption and ease the detection and prevention of cases of human trafficking.
Summarizing the presented information, the derived conclusion is that the problems of organized crime and human trafficking are a serious concern for the US. Despite numerous measures that aim at combating social issues, one can state that the existing policy has issues. Therefore, its modification is needed in order to increase its efficiency. For instance, the government has to apply more efforts to detect illegal money traffic, corruption and the attempts of the criminal community to work in the legal system. Furthermore, the government should lower the level of unemployment. The aforementioned strategies should go along with informing of unemployed citizens of the threat of organized crime and human trafficking. The mentioned steps would raise the overall awareness of the population, stimulating it to cooperate with legal and executive bodies. Consequently, the policy would help to lower the level of organized crime and human trafficking in the country.