John P. Sullivan
Broadly speaking, transnational crime involves criminal enterprises that cross national boundaries. For our purposes, we are looking at transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) that engage in transnational organized crime (TOC). Phil Williams (1994) suggested that transnational organizations, including TCOs, conduct centrally directed operations in the territory of two or more nation-states, mobilize operations and optimize strategies across national boundaries. For Williams, these enterprises were functionally specific and sought to penetrate, not acquire new territories. That is changing. That loose definition is only a starting point for understanding the dynamics and logic structure of what is perhaps best understood as “global crime”.
The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, known as the Palermo Convention, defines an organized criminal group as:
a structured group of three or more persons, existing for a period of time and acting in concert with the aim of committing one or more serious crimes or offences established in accordance with this Convention, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit … (United Nations, 2000, Article 2(a), p. 2)
Essentially, transnational or global crime exploits global economic flows to garner profit and power. In the traditional view, TOC and TCOs are concerned only with profit; that is, exploiting the black market to concentrate ...