It has become evident that organized criminal networks and smugglers employ sophisticated strategies to avoid detection, invent ways to circumvent crime-fighting agents and surveillance agencies, and try to incriminate the world’s major shipping and logistics corporations.
The type and size of the smuggled product play an important role in choosing the means of smuggling. In this regard, research has revealed that commercial goods are the preferred mode of conveyance for drug smuggling networks. According to the “insight crime” journalistic organization that specializes in crime, these mafias depend on innovative and complex smuggling patterns each time to transport contraband across ships, whether through containers, storage rooms, fuel tanks, or even through the captain’s cabin, his assistants, and the ship’s engine rooms.
On the other hand, these criminal networks rely on impersonating a customer, merchant, or importer who wishes to complete a commercial transfer process with the most important international shipping companies, so that it appears on the surface to be a legal and legitimate deal, but on reality, it is a cover for smuggling large tonnes of drugs or other contraband and smuggled goods.
It is worth noting that globalization and the technological revolution all played a role in the development of this criminal ideology by disseminating knowledge, facilitating communication, accelerating the movement of money and travel, and developing new ways of thinking. In addition to the basic factors represented in the secretive nature of organized crime networks, which makes monitoring their movements and even distinguishing their activity and work from legitimate legal activities difficult, except after a period of time that can be shortened or extended indefinitely.
UNODC has recognized that the globalization of trade and finance has created new opportunities for criminal groups to exploit weaknesses in the global economic system and that addressing this challenge requires sustained efforts and collaboration across multiple sectors and stakeholders.
Faced with this reality, large and trustworthy companies fall prey to organized crime networks, necessitating immediate action by companies involved in global trade and supply, such as AGA WORLDWIDE, TRH Trading Corporation, MSC, Maersk, and Sea Trade Group, to tip the scales. Instead of being prey to gangs, they fell networks in their nets.
The involvement of organized crime networks and the process of trapping them did not happen by chance, but rather through the development of proactive plans and the tremendous efforts undertaken by these commercial companies over many years, with the aim of acquiring skills, building capabilities, and preparing protection teams. It was based on a never-ending series of procedures that substantially aided in opposing the operations of these criminal networks and preventing them from slipping into them.
These commercial companies developed the capabilities of their employees through several steps, some of which we summarize:
- Investing in intensive digital courses and programs known as “Know your customer”, by adopting accurate and detailed means that are keen to collect data on every customer who communicates with it, without neglecting to train its employees also on “Valid as Trusted” courses, which aims to check the information received about the customer in various ways.
- Building effective and long-term partnerships that work to enhance protection from organized crime networks, with agencies to combat and monitor organized crime, at the national level through countries, armies, police forces, and major companies, as well as at the international level through INTERPOL, the European Union and United Nations organizations.
- Adopting accurate standards when selecting employees and work crews to ensure the confidentiality of recorded information and goods stored in warehouses, while adopting strictness in completing legal transactions to conclude deals within the terms of international trade.
- Developing and implementing protection protocols aimed at enhancing cooperation between international shipping companies and major commercial companies, with the goal of ensuring that the names of these companies are not used to mislead them, by following up on accurate customer and purchase deals with brokers, as well as conducting a comprehensive survey of goods at various stages of supply chains. These protocols take into account the completion of transactions with clients in a flexible, non-complex way.
Many studies have estimated the size of economic losses caused by organized crime networks’ actions, as well as the effects and consequences of these losses. According to this year’s Global Financial Integrity Report, organized criminal networks produce between $1.6 and $2.2 trillion in illegal revenues every year. Not to mention the economic consequences of organized crime. Other studies have found a link between organized crime and rising levels of corruption and violence, which can jeopardize society’s economic well-being.
The task of monitoring the relationship between global economic systems and criminal networks involved in contraband smuggling is undeniably complex, requiring sustained effort and collaboration among many stakeholders, as unanimously agreed by Professor James Cocken, a leading expert on transnational organised crime, and Dr. Louise Shelley, the recognized expert in transnational organized crime, and experts in the United Nations organizations and international organizations concerned with Interpol, Europol and the like.
We note that the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Ghada Waly, during a session of the UN Security Council on the topic “Strengthening Maritime Security: A Case for International Cooperation”, presented four proposals on the part related to smuggling networks via ships, which included “implementing the international legal framework and building capacities.” expand partnerships, and strengthen comprehensive crime prevention responses.
Matters require increased security measures adopted at ports, increased international cooperation between organizations to combat organized crime, and a proactive and collaborative approach to monitoring criminal activity in supply chains. It also requires adopting proactive plans and steps, as many major global economic companies have done, and those concerned with global trade and supply, such as AGA WORLDWIDE, TRH Trading Corporation, MSC, Maersk, and Sea Trade Group. This is accompanied by increased media, social, and economic awareness of the dangers posed by these criminal networks, with the goal of exposing how they manipulate companies and contribute to their defamation, all of which are critical steps in combating the organized crime of all types and reducing its risks and repercussions.