The 5 biggest organized crime groups in the world


September 3, 2015

Source: Fortune

Cyber crime is grabbing the headlines these days, but the largest criminal gangs are still making most of their money from drugs, sex, and extortion.

It’s tough to go even a few months without seeing the effects of organized crime on the economy and everyday life. The most salient example these days is the rash of thefts of credit card data from big-name retail chains like Home Depot and Target.

While these threats are headline-grabbing and particularly frightening because e-commerce is a relatively new phenomenon and businesses and consumers aren’t totally sure how to protect themselves from hackers, it’s still a drop in the bucket in terms of overall organized crime earnings.

 Yamaguchi Gumi

A 2013 survey from Javelin Strategy and Research estimates that the annual total loss to Americans due to identity theft was roughly $20 billion. But much of those costs comes from efforts to prevent identity theft or recover from its effects, rather than what thieves earn from their crimes. Compare that to estimates of pure revenue from other forms of organized crime like the drug trade and human trafficking: the Organization of American States estimates that the revenue for cocaine sales in the U.S. has reached $34 billion annually. When you add the market for other illicit drugs and revenue generators like human trafficking and extortion, it becomes clear that organized crime is still making most of its money from its legacy businesses, despite the fact that criminals are always looking for new ways to make a buck.

So, who are the biggest organized crime gangs around the world and how do they make their money? Organized crime revenues are very difficult to estimate, as criminals often spend a significant amount of time trying to hide what they make. Also, “organized crime” is a loosely defined concept. Anything from a vast drug smuggling ring to a handful of car thieves can be classified as organized crime groups, and the cohesiveness of organized crime organizations around the world varies widely. Some groups, like Japan’s Yakuza, are highly organized and hierarchical, allowing economists and crime fighters in Japan to attribute much higher revenue totals to Yakuza groups than others around the world. Here are the top five criminal gangs, ranked by revenue estimates:

1. Yamaguchi Gumi—Revenue: $80 billion

The largest known gang in the world is called the Yamaguchi Gumi, one of several groups collectively referred to in Japan as “Yakuza,” a term that is roughly equivalent to the American use of “mafia.” The Yamaguchi Gumi make more money from drug trafficking than any other source, according to Hiromitsu Suganuma, Japan’s former national police chief. The next two leading sources of revenue are gambling and extortion, followed closely by “dispute resolution.”

The Yakuza date back hundreds of years, and according to Dennis McCarthy, author of An Economic History of Organized Crime, Yakuza groups are among the most centralized in the world. While other East Asian gangs like Chinese Triads, which are a loose conglomeration of criminals bonded together mostly by familial relations, Yakuza are bound together by “elaborate hierarchies,” and members, once initiated, must subvert all other allegiances in favor of the Yakuza. Even with the Japanese government cracking down on Yakuza in recent years, this centralized structure has made it easy to attribute a massive amount of revenue to this single gang.

2. Solntsevskaya Bratva—Revenue: $8.5 billion

Russian mafia groups sit on the other side of the organizational spectrum from Yakuza. Their structure, according to Frederico Varese, a professor of criminology at the University of Oxford and an expert on international organized crime, is highly decentralized. The group is composed of 10 separate quasi-autonomous “brigades” that operate more or less independently of each other. The group does pool its resources, however, and the money is overseen by a 12-person council that “meets regularly in different parts of the world, often disguising their meetings as festive occasions,” Varesi says.

Solntsevskaya Bratva

It’s estimated that the group claims upwards of 9,000 members, and that it’s bread and butter is the drug trade and human trafficking. Russian organized crime in general is heavily involved in the heroin trade that originates in Afghanistan: it’s estimated that Russia consumes about 12% of the world’s heroin, while it contains just 0.5% of the world’s population.

3. Camorra—Revenue: $4.9 billion

While the Italian-American mafia has been severely weakened in recent decades by law enforcement, the Italian mafia in the old country is still running strong. Despite years of efforts from citizens, journalists, and government officials, the local governments in Italy remain linked to and protective of various mafia groups, to the point where a 2013 study from the Università Cattolica and the Joint research Centre on Transnational Crime estimated that mafia activities generate revenue of $33 billion dollars, mostly divided among Italy’s four major mafia gangs.

Camorra boss Antonio Iovine

Camorra is the most successful of these groups, raking in an estimated $4.9 billion per year on everything from “sexual exploitation, firearms trafficking, drugs, counterfeiting, gambling … usury and extortion,” according to the report. And Camorra has been at it a long time. Based in Naples, the group’s history dates back to the 19th century, when it was formed initially as a prison gang. As members were released, the group flourished during the bloody political struggles in Italy during the 1800s by offering protection services and as a force for political organization among Italy’s poor.

4. ‘Ndrangheta—Revenue: $4.5 billion

Based in the Calabria region of Italy, the ‘Ndarangheta is the country’s second largest mafia group by revenue. While it is involved in many of the same illicit activities as Camorra, ‘Ndrangheta has made its name for itself by building international ties with South American cocaine dealers, and it controls much of the transatlantic drug market that feeds Europe.

‘Ndrangheta

It has also been expanding its operations in the U.S. and has helped prop up the Gambino and Bonnano crime families in New York. In February, Italian and American police forces arrested dozens of ‘Ndrangheta and Gambino family members and charged them with crimes related to the transatlantic drug trade.

5. Sinaloa Cartel—Revenue $3 billion

Sianola is Mexico’s largest drug cartel, one of several gangs that has been terrorizing the Mexican population as it serves as the middleman between South American producers of illegal drugs and an unquenchable American market. The White House Office of Drug Control Policy estimates that Americans spend $100 billion on illegal drugs each year, and the RAND Corporation says that about $6.5 billion of that reaches Mexican cartels. With an estimated 60% market share, Sinola cartel is raking in approximately $3 billion per year.

El Chapo Sinaloa

Despite the fact that Sinaloa’s leader was arrested February, the cartel seems to have avoided the sort of bloody—and costly—succession battle that has plagued some groups when a leader is taken out of commission.

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Country-by-Country Map of Drug Policy Positions in the Americas


August 9 , 2013

Source: insightcrime.org

This map breaks down every country’s stated position on legalisation and decriminalisation of drugs in the hemisphere. It is in this context that Uruguay is set to enact historic legislation and become the first country to legalise production, distribution, and consumption of marijuana.
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The interactive graphic (below and here) was prepared by InSight Crime for the 2012 Summit of the Americas and includes background information and links. It is also downloadable here (pdf) as a chart.

SEE ALSO: Gorilla in the Room: Legalization and Decriminalization in the Americas

The Summit put the issue on the table but achieved little else.

The Organization of American States (OAS) later issued a report outlining possible scenarios for the future of drug policy in the region. In one scenario, some governments in the region change their laws, while others maintain the status quo. The result is chaos and the formation of two blocks: one that is in favor of “legalization,” and one that is against it.

This appears to be the direction the region is headed. While some states in the United States, most notably Colorado, have passed laws that are similar to that of Uruguay, the US federal government remains firmly entrenched in its longtime position against the legalization of marijuana. Most governments in the region continue to follow the US lead.

There are similar contradictions in other countries as well, especially with regards to consumption versus production. While consumption is often “legalized” in small doses, production is outlawed. Uruguayan lawmakers in favor of marijuana legalization say they are addressing this contradiction in the legal code.

The Map Explained

The red countries in the map represent those who have publicly stated they are against both legalization and decriminalization of narcotics.

The yellow countries are those that either have partial decriminalization laws or have argued in favor of this, but have said they are against legalization.

The green countries are those who are open to debate on drug decriminalization and legalization.

Screen Shot 2013-08-09 at 12.10.48 AM

 

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Brazil to Install Border Security Cameras


June 1, 2013

Source: Insightcrime.org

Brazil will install video surveillance cameras along the 17,000 kilometer border it shares with 10 other countries, as part of a national public security strategy aimed at combating organized crime along the frontier.

Border_Security_Brazil

Brazil’s National Public Security Secretariat will provide $13.9 million (29.5 million Brazilian reales) to 60 municipalities in 11 states that border other countries, for the purchase and installation of at least 624 security cameras, Folha reported. Funds will also be used for the transmission systems, video surveillance reception, and the training of system operators. Muncipal, state and federal authorities will work together to review the images

The cameras will be particularly heavily clustered along the border with Paraguay, in the Mato Grosso do Sul, Parana, and Santa Catarina departments, according to Folha’s map.

InSight Crime Analysis

Installing security cameras is part of a wider initiative focusing on Brazil’s border security. Since the implementation of the “Strategic Border Plan” in August 2011, Brazil has reportedly broken up 65 criminal organizations operating along the frontier. Brazil has also signed cooperation agreements with a number of countries, most recently Bolivia, in an attempt to help further secure its borders.

Rio-amazonas

As Latin America’s largest market for cocaine and a transhipment point for drugs going to Europe, border security is a major issue for Brazil. Bolivian and Peruvian cocaine is shipped from Bolivia or through Paraguay, along routes controlled by Brazilian gangs. Human trafficking is also a major problem, leading the government to recently invest in ten new control posts in border towns.

It is worth questioning whether the increased camera surveillance will significantly impact border crime, and whether the cost will be worth the investment. The US has had mixed results with its own expensive border strategy, which emphasized the use of technology. Geographical factors may make surveillance particularly difficult in some regions of Brazil, such as the Amazon. Moreover, evidence from the US has suggested that increased border security in certain zones simply shifts illegal crossings into different areas.

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Europol identifies 3600 Organised Crime Groups active in the European Union (SOCTA 2013 Report)


April 6, 2013

Source: Europol

In the most detailed study ever undertaken of its kind in the European law enforcement community Europol has identified an estimated 3,600 organised crime groups currently active in the EU. The EU Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA), published by Europol today, found that international drug trafficking remains the most active organised crime activity but it also identified the emergence of new criminal phenomena, many linked to the current economic crisis and the internet.  These new developments are changing the nature of organised crime towards a model based around a networked community of heterogeneous, international groups.

europol

“A new breed of organised crime groups is emerging in Europe, capable of operating in multiple countries and criminal sectors. These groups are no longer defined by their nationality or specialisation in one area of crime but by an ability to operate on an international basis, with a business-like focus on maximising profit and minimising risk. They are the epitome of our new globalised society,” says Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.

The 2013 Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) delivers a set of recommendations based on an in-depth analysis of the major crime threats facing the EU. The report draws on significant intelligence collected from law enforcement agencies in the EU Member States, other EU Agencies, and Europol’s own databases.  The Council of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers will use the report’s findings and recommendations to define priorities for the next four years.

Based on analysis of the prevailing threats the SOCTA 2013 has identified the crime areas which require the greatest concerted action by EU Member States and other actors to ensure the most effective impact on the general threat. These threats include crime areas that have recently gained significance or were not regarded as priority areas earlier, but now stand out against other crime threats because of their impact on society.  The priorities identified in the report are:

  • Facilitation of illegal immigration
  • Trafficking in human beings
  • Counterfeit goods with an impact on public health and safety
  • Missing Trader Intra Community (MTIC) fraud
  • Synthetic drugs production and poly-drug trafficking in the EU
  • Cybercrime
  • Money laundering

The conditions of the current economic crisis and resulting changes in consumer demand are fuelling a shift in serious criminal activity.  Reduced consumer spending power has inspired counterfeiters to expand into new product lines such as commodity counterfeiting, illicit trade in sub-standard goods and goods violating health and safety regulations. In addition to the traditional counterfeiting of luxury products, organised crime groups are now also counterfeiting daily consumer goods including foods and medical products. The increased production and distribution of these goods have significant implications for public health and safety.

Meanwhile other forms of economic crime, especially fraud, have grown in scale and impact.  Missing Trader Intra Community (MTIC) fraud, which derives from a manipulation of the VAT tax regime, is responsible for the loss of billions of Euros each year in the government revenues of Member States, illustrating the extent to which organised crime harms the economy.

Money seized by German customs agency Zoll during anti-money laundering operation is displayed before agency's annual statistics news conference in Berlin

“The fight against organised crime has big implications for the EU’s ability to secure an effective economic recovery.  Through a recent expansion of the ‘black market’ and notable developments in fraudulent activity criminal groups are denying governments, businesses, and citizens billions of Euros each year in lost tax receipts, profits, and private income.  Stronger action is needed in the EU to close down these criminal activities and protect our economic base,” says Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol.

The internet is also a major driver of criminal activity, enabling organised crime groups to access a large pool of victims, obscure their activities and carry out a diverse range of criminal acts in a shorter period of time and on a much larger scale than ever before. The spread of the internet and technological advances have caused significant shifts in crime areas and the pattern of criminal activity.

The SOCTA 2013 report is Europol’s flagship product providing information to Europe’s law enforcement community and decision-makers about the threat of serious and organised crime to the EU. The report exists in two versions a restricted for law enforcement and a public version which is available in the Europol publications section of their website.

EU crime gangs find new ways to make money in bad times

 

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‘I was protecting my child’: Pregnant country star Mindy McCready defends ‘kidnapping’ her son


Source: Daily Mail

Country music star Mindy McCready has spoken for the first time about ‘kidnapping’ her son and going on the run.

The singer said she took her five year old son Zander as she feared for his safety.

McCready, who is pregnant with twins, was arrested after being found hiding with her son in a closet at a house in Arkansas having fled from Florida and sparking a nationwide hunt.

‘Protecting my child’: Mindy McCready told ABC News that she took her five year old son Zander as she feared for his safety

But in her first interview since a court hearing over custody rights  she said she did not feel she was doing anything wrong in taking her son.

McCready said she would ‘not ever think that me taking my own child, that I carried for nine months, that I gave birth to in the hospital by myself would ever be breaking the law.’

‘What I did was to protect my child, and there’s not a person in the world that’s going to tell me that that is wrong,’ she said.

In an interview to be shown on Good Morning America on Friday, the singer claimed she was forced to take her son as she feared for his safety.

Custody battle: Mindy’s ex boyfriend Billy McKnight with their son Zander 

McCready is locked in a custody battle with her mother Gayle Inge.

She said she was so concerned that during a visit to her father’s home in Cape Coral, Florida, she decided to take her son and leave.

‘I know there are rules that are written down that we’re supposed to follow, and guidelines that we’re supposed to follow, but there’s a difference between right and wrong, and right and wrong in my opinion should come first, always,’ McCready said.

Inge was appointed Zander’s guardian in 2007 while McCready served six months in prison for a probation violation related to an earlier drug charge.

Troubles: Mindy, seen here in a mug shot from 2007, has been arrested five times

McCready and her son were found cowering in a closet by police in Arkansas following a tip off.

A nationwide kidnapping alert had been issued with US Marshalls hunting for McCready and her son.

The singer said her son was terrified when a SWAT like team grabbed them last Friday.

‘He was screaming, “Please don’t touch me, please don’t touch me, please don’t touch my mommy.  Please, leave me alone, I want to be with my mommy,”‘ McCready said.

Police denied they had used any force and had a social worker with them who took Zander into their care.

McCready appeared before a judge in Arkansas and was not charged with any kidnapping offence.

After the hearing she said she was a ‘happy woman’ but did not go into details of the custody hearing.

Her son remains with foster parents.

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Brat Camps and Boot Camps for troubled teens


Source: Boot camps
Brat Camps
    Whoever would’ve guessed that watching a bunch of unruly, disrespectful “brats” would be considered entertainment?! From the UK to the United States, viewers are glued to their televisions, watching the adventures, battles and emotional breakdowns of a group of teens that need a quick dose of reality in the new TV series “Brat Camps”.
    Brat camps are very similar to wilderness programs and some of them closely resemble the juvenile boot camps that have grown in popularity. Brat camps are considered by many to be good options for teens that have early signs of problems but have not become firmly attatched to negative influences and bad behavior. However, teens that have developed bad habits over long period of time would benefit more from long-term options that range from 12-18 months. Long-term options have the ability to replace bad habits with positive, constructive habits that will benefit the teen throughout their lives.
 Boot Camp Overview

Started as an alternative to jail for juvenile adolescents, there are serveral types of teen boot camps from state run to privately run where the teen will be mentally and physically challenged. These facilities can be a starting place for getting your teen help. In both the state and private environment the camps goal is to scare kids straight generally only giving a good short-term solution. Parents often seek out boot camps with the assumption that a “wake up call” is all that is needed for their troubled teen.

Boot Camps are often short-term, however, long-term boot camps have increased in popularity for their ability to help defiant adolescents improve their behavior at home and school. They are modeled after military-style, military exercises, and intense physical training focusing on reality, respect and responsibility. Many teens lack these qualities, yet they desperately need them in order to successfully transition into adulthood. This experience can help teens replace destructive attitudes and behaviors with new perspectives and direction in their lives. The theology behind a short-term camp being that a “quick reality check” will turn a child around who has been acting out. These boot camp style programs are usually ineffective for teens that have developed bad habits over a long period of time and are in need of long term change.
What is it like to be in a Teen Boot Camp?
A true teen boot camp will include uniforms, marching in formation as well as a “yes sir” and “no sir” mentality.  They will include a very structured environment that includes the trainers getting right in the face of the cadet. Barracks will be similar to those in the U.S. Military’s “basic training” program and will be authentic in areas including bunk beds, foot lockers and a very strict, no holes barred system of inspections that must be completed without error if the teen is to survive the ordeal, even for a short period of time.  Whether a child is able to handle this type of environment is actually a question that must be considered before a parent puts a struggling teen in the midst of these intense drill instructors and within the environment that does not permit any outside contact for a prescribed period of time. Parents should consider more than just if the cadet can survive. They should consider whether juvenile boot camps are the right choice for a troubled teen. It is clear that teens with behavioral problems that are beyond the scope of these environments should not be considered for teen boot camps.

Do Boot Camps Work?

    These type of programs are designed as a quick fix and may help a struggling teen with respect, obedience and appreciation. However, they are not a good long term option for teens that need help. Recidivism rates suggest that they are not a good solution for long term change.

Health and Safety Issues
    Health and Safety of your teen should be considered when choosing a juvenile boot camp. Boot camps have come under fire recently with health and safety issues. Some may attempt to push a child too much or may be to extreme with their in your face approach. Many choose to use too much military drill instructor techniques. While the drill sergeant may have success with military basic training cadets who have voluntarily gone to boot camp. Ex-drill sergeants may be ineffective with a struggling teen that is not as motivated as some one enrolled into the military.

Published by: ABP World Group International Child Recovery Services

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