The problem of organised crime has been pushed to the forefront of political policy, with a large amount of money pumped into "state and local law enforcement agencies (Maltz 1976)" in attempt to combat this growing phenomenon. The term 'organised crime' itself is 'frequently used but difficult to define (Levi 1998). Maltz (1976) made one of the first acknowledgements of the lack of a universally accepted definition of 'organised crime' and in turn highlighted this inconsistency when analysing the effectiveness of current policy. Hence, without a corroborative, common understanding outlining specifically what the notion of 'organised crime' is, we cannot validly promote that government agencies are contributing to preventing it. Maltz' (1998) contribution is relevant, in order to show the progression through time and the developments made when attempting to tackle the definitional issues surrounding the notion of 'organised crime.'
More traditional definitions of 'organised crime' refer to a specific act of set of behaviours, (Cressey 1969 cited in Maltz) however Maltz (1976) exercises an understanding of it being an "entity (P339)" consisting of a group of unspecified people using various "anthropomorphisms". He exudes that the blurred definitional issues leads to problematic circular reasoning, extenuating the need for not necessarily a unified definition but a clearer typology. This paradoxical reasoning is illustrated with the example that organised crime "runs the narcotics distribution in New York City" but in parallel "the distribution of narcotics is an organised crime" and all persons involved are "ipso facto (by the fact itself)" in 'organised crime'. This crystallises how vague and confusing pre-established attempts of define organised crime can be. Alternative conventional definitions also suggest the requirement of an "underclass of minority class ethnics (Simon and Schuster 1974)" in order for organised crime to function, which Maltz (1976) acquiesces not to be universally the case. Such demonstrates definitional discrepancies between the offender and the offense and the part they play in defining 'organised crime'. It should therefore be noted that this may provide sufficient definition for "a numbers operator but not for a bookie that takes thousand dollar bets (Maltz 1969)" This could however provide incite into criminal networks that exist in hierarchical form, where network structure can be visualised through a pyramid effect but does not provide universal incite into all other, differently structured networks of 'organised crime.'
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The only statutory attempt to effectively define organised crime is present in the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act (1968). It proclaims "organised crime means the unlawful activities of the members of a highly organised, disciplined association engaged in supplying illegal goods and services, including but not limited to gambling, prostitution, loan sharking, narcotics, labour racketeering and other unlawful activities of members of such organisations." This may include several aspects that organised crime involved but it should be recognised that not all good are illegal but may count as organised crime, for example cigarette smuggling. Hence, cigarettes are not illicit but tax evasion that occurs through the use of criminal markets and networks, is legal and so deemed a form of 'organised crime'. Furthermore, this specific statutory definition does not apply to "all crimes that are organised (Maltz P 340 1976)" and so forfeits as a valid and universal attempt at definition. Interestingly, just two years later in the Organised Crime Control Act (1970) no attempt was made to define organised crime. Such a use of the statutory definition was deemed unconstitutional and "too vague to be used in criminal code (New York Times P.33 January 24 1975)."
Through analyse of the numerous definitions presented for 'organised crime', Maltz (1976) establishes four common attributes; the commission of crimes, the type of organisation, some rigid, hierarchical and disciplined, violence or a threat of violence and corruption. Although widespread acknowledgements, the use of violence and/or corruption again does not exist in "all crimes that are organised Maltz (1976)." He continues to suggest that violence is inhibited "as a substitute for economic and political power for those who lack subtler means of coercion." This is not expressing violence as a condonable act but distinguishes for example "white collar criminals (Geis 1968)" from others by claiming they use more "sophisticated, covert and powerful forms of persuasion (Maltz 1976)" than violence. This is relevant as, although there is a well established relationship between 'organised crime' and 'white collar crime,' definitional confusion often exists between distinguishing the two. Albanese (2000) argues that so called 'white collar crimes' and 'organised crimes' both portray important elements of organisation; rational criminal motive, multiple participants, the use of corruption and or violence to maintain immunity from law enforcement agencies. Others on the contrary, disconnect this association by stating that organised crime in "business crime is usually referred to as white collar crime, except when committed by racketeers who enter into business, in which case it is called organised crime, even though the criminal acts may be identical Maltz (1976)." This is yet another example of uncertainty as to where the boundaries that identify a crime as 'organised crime' exists and further extenuates the how the lack of a unified definition raises issues. As far as policy is concerned, it is difficult to validate the investment of significant amounts of money in combating 'organised crime' when we cannot identify exactly what this seemingly indefinable phenomenon includes. Further, without a clear distinction between what organised crime is and what characterizes an act of it, we have no way of corroborating how efficiently our law enforcement resources are being distributed.
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Albanese (2000) some fourteen years after Maltz's (1976) publication reinforces the pre-existing and unresolved definitional inadequacies of 'organised crime.' As Maltz (1976) also conceded, the vague and varying definitions of 'organised crime' have "hampered the potential success of crime control programs (Albanese 2000)." Again, similarly to Maltz (1976), Albanese (2000) recognises the "emerging consensus" of characteristics organised crime involves, but with thirteen different authors offering interchangeable adaptations of its definition (Hagan 1983) in recent years, there has been little success in forming a unifying typology or definition. This slow and sometimes undetectable progression "over what constitutes organised crime Albanese (2000)" is inadequate considering the "long history of interest in the subject (Albanese 2000)"
In response to these inadequacies, Albanese (2000) engages an active debate concerning cause and effect. This surrounds whether criminals organise around available opportunities to commit crime or criminal opportunities create a new generation of offenders. Using the analysis of case studies (Gary Potter 1994, Ko Lin Chin 1996, Rensselaer 1997) he devised a typology proposing that opportunity factors, the criminal environment and the skills or access required to carry out criminal activity were the three major elements to consider when predicting the incidence of organised crime (Albanese 2000). The model incorporated both opportunity and offender availability factors when predicting 'organised crime' activity. A model of criminal opportunity and organised crime group interaction was simplified and visually represented to illustrate a collaboration of results highlighted in the case study analysis. Such exploration could provide essential focus for either implementing surveillance based strategy of pre-existing criminal groups or pro-active strategy to reduce criminal opportunities, which Albanese (2000) suggests emerge from social and technological changes. He also formulates an updated version of 'organised crime' definition based on a consensus over the last thirty years to be "a continuing enterprise that rationally works for profit from illicit activities; its continuing existence is maintained through the use of force, threats, monopoly control and/or the corruption of public officials Albanese (2000 Pp411 )." Although this definition seems offer more clarity as to what organising crime may involve, some acts of organised crime still cannot be incorporated into this definition. Albanese provides examples of where this definition may not accommodate for an "otherwise legitimate corporation such as a massage parlour offering sex for money to some customers (Albanese 2000 Pp411)."
Albanese (2000) also sought to counter stereotypes that have accumulated over the years concerning organised crime and its definition. Firstly, the assumption that organised crime involves large, namely culturally driven, crime groups with strong social relationships, forming the traditional perception of a "mafia" like organisation. This "associative paradigm (Pezzimo 1990)" can fuel stereotypical perceptions of a strong association between organised crime and the criminal 'mafia' groups. Although it is evident that 'mafia' like 'organised crime' groups have existed since the 1860's (Paoli 2004), this can blur understanding and hinder combating the definitional issues 'organised crime' presents. Albanese (2000) elucidates this misconception by clarifying that; a crime group can consist of just "two or more participants to suffice." Similarly, crime groups are not necessarily culturally driven but product driven, illustrating that people organise themselves within criminal networks to "simply to commit the crimes (Albanese 1996 cited in 2000)" and sometimes demonstrate "little or no group loyalty (Albanese 1996 cited in Albanese 2000)." This exemplifies the wide spread variation of behaviours in criminal networks and groups, revealing another depth as to why universally defining 'organised crime' has proven difficult.
From this, amongst others (Sacco 1986, Martin 1981, Smith 1980) Albanese (2000) supports the suggestion that organised crime "does not exist as an ideal type but rather as a degree of criminal activity or as a point on the spectrum of legitimacy." Moreover, organised crime can be interpreted to be "a type of a larger category of behaviour that may be called organisational crime. Albanese (2000)".This signifies a significant develop in typology, rather than definition, suggesting that although no unifying definition has been established, we are closer to understanding organised crime as a concept than we were initially with Maltz (1976). This is in no way undermining the credibility of primarily introducing the problem of defining organised crime and acted as a sturdy basis for the much needed develop in this area. Despite this, definitional issues to this day still propose significant problems in producing effective, assessable political strategies, providing little anticipation for a single meaningful definition of 'organised crime.'
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Drugs are such a prominent feature in society today, with a thriving global "criminal underworld (Van Duyne 2005)," operating in networks, dedicated to the satisfying the "needs of markets in the same way that legitimate enterprises and structures operate (Corn 1992)." With an ever increasing demand for illicit substances, the 'transnational' smuggling of drugs has been pushed to the forefront of political attention. Consequently, it appears relevant to explore the journey of heroin through smuggling as 'organised crime.' Primary focus will be placed around the networks and markets within which heroin smuggling exists. In order to provide sufficient incite into this phenomenon, the following aspects will be examined and appropriately scrutinized:
How prevalent is heroin smuggling?
Where does heroin come from and how is it smuggled?
How do we describe heroin smuggling networks and markets and what characterises them?
What definitional issues arise when describing heroin smuggling networks and markets?
How effective policy when attempting to disrupt heroin smuggling networks and markets
What wider implications does heroin smuggling have on other criminality in the uk?
How prevalent is heroin smuggling?
According to a World Drug Report (2010) conducted, the global trade in illicit drugs has an extortionate global turnover of billions of pounds, estimated to be approximated 5.3 billion pounds in the 2003/2004 annum. Drug trafficking was deemed the most profitable sector of 'transnational' criminality, signifying the greatest 'organised crime' threat to the United Kingdom. Heroin has very high consumer demand and proportionately maintains a high street value. This gives rise to an increase in the smuggling of heroin and the demand for production, maintaining the potential to establish extremely profitable criminal businesses. Although reported as a widespread global problem, we must also give reference to the "dark figure Raab and Milward 2004)" of heroin smuggling that exists within most aspects of 'organised crime" and criminality. Hence, as heroin smuggling is both "covert and illegal according to the social and political environment they act in (Raab et al 2004),"we cannot validly assess the true extent of the problem. Consequently, what is already established as a sinister and damaging aspect of 'organised crime' is potentially significantly more widespread then official statistics exude.
Where does heroin come from and how is it smuggled?
Afghanistan is responsible for the overwhelming majority of worldwide opium production, constituting for 89% of global illicit production in 2009 (World Drug Report 2010).
Intelligence assessments report the primary trafficking route for heroin to the UK transitions over land from Afghanistan to Europe via Iran, Turkey and the Balkans. Moreover, The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) believe 37% of all Afghanistan heroin departs from Afghanistan along this route, visually represented in the map provided. Unsurprisingly, Turkey and Iran were therefore responsible for more than half of all heroin seized globally in 2008 (World Drug Report, 2010). This de centralisation of the heroin trade has been speculatively explained through Afghanistan possessing all the "logistics required to produce (Raab and Milward 2004)" and smuggle the drug. Explicably, Afghanistan is geographically land locked sharing common boarders with six different countries, making the transition between countries easier to instigate and consequently could reduce the risk of detection. Van Duyne (1993, 1996) acknowledged this utilisation, describing most 'organised crime' in Europe as a criminal economy to be "essentially a cross border crime trade." Moreover, with "many loosely controlled borders and relatively small jurisdictions" this paves the way to suggest that the "largest illegal profits for European crime entrepreneurs are to be gained in the drug market (Van Duyne 1996)," Levi (1981) reiterates this notion stating that cross border crime, like heroin smuggling, is "attractive" as it creates problems of inter-country "legal jurisdiction, investigative cost and practical interest of police (Levi 1981)," all of which propose law enforcement agencies with prosecution issues. This only contributes to the thriving criminal networks exploiting the use of cross border smuggling.
Abdul Nasir (2004) reports that European counterparts provide smugglers with meticulously gathered information, including which airports have the weakest security measures, which customs staffs can be bribed and where safe land passage is available, in order to aid smuggling heroin over the borders. Smugglers also hire nomads and shepherds that roam the country borders to monitor detection and inform them of any compromising situations they may come across.
Other smuggling routes have been identified to run parallel with the monopolisation of Afghanistan heroin production. Following a 'Record Heroin Bust at Heathrow Airport (Sellers 2009),' the UK border agency seized 18 million pounds worth of heroin hidden in souvenirs from South Africa. The case was dealt with by the Serious Organised Crime Agency who seek to "put serious criminals behind bars, and use many other tactics to fight crime and keep you safe' (SOCA)." A further 80kg of heroin was uncovered in Dartford, Kent instigating the arrest of two men and an additional five taken to custody. Reports reveal three of the men were of British nationality. This represents a memorable success for the UK Border Agency, working along side organisations like SOCA using hi-tech scanning equipment and intelligence to identify drugs being smuggled. The case study also gives valuable insight into the methodology actors within drug networks use to smuggle heroin into the UK.
Although it is significant to establish the methodology and logistics that heroin smuggling demonstrates, it is arguably more intrinsically valuable to analyse the structure and characteristics of networks and markets they exist within, as this can give considerable incite into possible effective means of combating this form of 'organised crime.'
How do we define and what characterises heroin smuggling networks and markets?
Parallel with the definitional issues that exist in relation to 'organised crime,' defining both networks and markets is seemingly as problematic. Various theoretical and research based conceptualisations are offered to attempt to accurately characterise drug smuggling networks and markets. It should however be recognised that despite very credible attempts to define these complex networks and markets, many believe the provided conceptual framework is "too neat" to explain the very "messy reality (Johnson 1992)."
Structure of heroin smuggling networks
Bruinsma and Bernasco (2004) describe the differences in social organisation between criminal groups that commit 'transnational' illegal activities like heroin smuggling, using Social Network Theory. This theory emphasises the common supposition that human relationships form the basis of for organised criminal activity (McIllwain 1999) and from understanding the "dynamics behind these relationships and the networks they create, one can subsequently gain a clearer picture of organized criminal activity across time, space and culture (McIllwain 1999)." Hence, a social network refers to a set of actors and the relationships that bound them together, to form a structured network. It is these social networks that form the foundation for the social system of 'organised crime.'
Bruinsma and Bernasco (2004) proclaim that criminal networks are constructed in accordance with the shape of the markets they act within and investigate the high risk involved in cross border trading of drug, paying specific interest to that of heroin smuggling. Others contribute to explore these notions claiming generic drug smuggling networks to be "a bi lateral contract; where a group or a person will only know his or her immediate predecessor and successor in the supply chain (Raab and Milward 2003)." Research into heroin smuggling networks however suggest that they may be more cohesive than previously suggested, as illustrated in the structural network diagram above. Despite this, it has been proposed that these networks counter traditional views of being "highly rational and formally structured (Benson and Decker (2010)" but instead echo loose formal structure between more highly cohesive smaller dynamic, insulated groups (Natarajan 2006). Some people use this conceptualisation to describe how this allows networks to operate flexibly, as each smaller group "remains relatively separate from those earlier or later in the smuggling transaction chain (Zaitch 2002)." Potter (1994) supports this particular structural analysis claiming that the networks within drug markets are predominately "small, fragmented and ephemeral enterprises, with trade carried out between networks of small flexible firms". This not only implies drug smuggling networks to be comprised of sub-networks but views the market to operate in a disorganised (Reuter 1983) way.
Hobbs and Pearson's (2001) research into 'middle markets' reinforces this concept, recognising networks to be small and flexible, rejecting the traditionalist notion of "organised crime groups as tightly organised, complex and hierarchical entities whose tentacles reach around the globe." This Home Office research advocates that drug smuggling networks and market hierarchies oppose the conventional hierarchical pyramid. Although certain authoritative hierarchies can be identified, Hobb's and Pearson (2006) claim power is more evenly distributed along the supply chains. Moreover, as the "number of links in the chain between importation and retail level distribution is sometimes surprisingly short," the market is best represented by a flat or very shallow pyramid, illustrated in the very simple diagram given.
Relationships between actors in heroin smuggling networks
Actor's demographic characteristics vary considerably within a network demonstrating people with different ages, educational backgrounds and nationality, as expected with 'transnational' criminality. Subsequently, relationships between actors differ based on the structure the network takes, with some associations to be regional or familial based and others merely instrumental with minimal association between actors, affiliated only by the common interest of heroin smuggling. Given the highly profitable but comparably high risk involved in smuggling heroin, it could be suggested that a heightened sense of trust between certain actors within these networks, despite Raab and Milward (2003) described, drug smuggling networks exist in a predominately "bi-lateral."
On the contrary Bruinsma and Bernasco (2004) assert kinship and ethnicity to play a significant role in organising and upholding market and network structures along the entirety of the heroin supply chain. They maintain that "family relationships" are most commonly observed, claiming that the networks that smuggle heroin from Turkey through to the Netherland to be solely based on these family relationships. As a result, "familial ties strengthen affective bonds within networks making law enforcement problematic (Bruisma and Bernasco 2004)". Moreover, this suggests the relationships between actors in smuggling networks to demonstrate high levels of trust with strong social bonds. Hence heroin smuggling criminal groups are based on "collaboration between members of cohesive and often ethnically homogenous social networks (Bruisma and Bernasco 2004)."
The "Laws of supply and demand apply to the trade of illicit opiates (World Drug Report 2010)" including heroin. Some argue they operate as a predominately closed market; with dealers mainly dealing only to people they know (Cyster and Rowe 2006). It is however acknowledged that the as heroin is an illegal market, business transactions preponderantly occur on the streets, in attempt to minimize attention caused by the constant coming and going of customers and in turn reduces the risk of arousing police suspicion. According to Substance Misuse Research (2006) many users of heroin transition into dealing to financially satisfy their own drug habits. Hence, in many cases, contact with heroin markets initiates once people become users themselves and alter their role in the markets accordingly to appease their need for a personal supply of heroin. This illustrates how opportunists can transition from taking advantageous of illegal heroin markets for personal reasons to becoming actively involved in criminal networks.
As previously stated Potter (1998) describes drug markets to be "ephemeral." Research also exudes drug distribution markets to be 'episodic (Schiray 2001)' at high level smuggling and street dealing levels. For example high level smuggling can be affected by opportunist cross border smuggling and/or levels of opium production. Moreover, as dealers often stop and start distributing heroin when they attempt to cut down their own intake, market distribution and relative contact between networks can alter. Therefore, as the relationship between actors alters, the structure of networks within the drug smuggling markets modify. Thus, demonstrating disorganization within these markets and providing support for theorists that use social network theory to describe the structure and concept of heroin smuggling networks and markets.
This again echoes drug markets and the networks they consist of, to be "less centralized and structured than traditionally viewed (Morselli 2008)." Thus providing support for proposing this supposedly 'organised crime' to operate in a state disorganization, again countering traditional view that drug smuggling markets exist in a state of formal organization.
How effective is policy when attempting to disrupt heroin smuggling networks and markets?
According to the UK Drug Policy Commission (2008) current UK policy is focused upon three main objectives in tackling drug markets and distribution networks; supply reduction including interventions targeting sellers and traffickers, demand reduction interventions aimed at discouraging use and harm reduction by forging partnerships with local communities and drug treatment providers and other interventions. In theory this appears to hold logical credibility however it is questionable how effective such policy aspirations are in practise. Law enforcement agencies seek to achieve this through the following means:
Reducing the demand for heroin by catching, punishing and sentencing users, suppliers and producers.
Disrupting the operation of wholesale and retail heroin markets
Seizures of heroin at the point of importation
Eradication of crops in countries of production, mostly Afghanistan.
But how effective are these measures???...
This specific aim is subject to extensive criticism as reports suggest that 70% (£380 million in 2005/06) of the UK drug expenditure is allocated towards reducing the supply of drugs (Best et al 2001). Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) collaborate with other national and international law enforcement agencies, in order to seize illegally produced and smuggled heroin, hoping to disrupt the long chains of criminal networks associated with the supply of heroin and "stifle the availability of illegal drugs on our streets (UK Anti Drugs Co-ordinator, 2000)." Logic suggests that seizing large amounts of heroin being imported into the country would decrease supply, reactively increasing prices, contributing to a reduction in the amount of heroin purchased and consumed. Although a nice ideology, the realism is starkly different.
A two year in depth research study conducted by Weatherburn and Lind (1997), concluded that "heroin seizures had no effect on the price, purity or perceived availability of heroin at street level." They speculate that this could be for three possible reasons:
The quantities of heroin seized are too small relative to the quantities being imported to exert much effect
Importers consciously import sufficient quantities of heroin to compensate for the expected losses due to seizures or that importers
The heroin seized may have been destined for heroin markets other than the area it was seized within. This was a consideration, as there is little empirical evidence investigating this field and so a representative analysis, internationally and nationally has not yet been achieved.
McSweeney and Turnbull (2008) also acknowledge that traffickers and dealers can "alter the purity levels to widen profit margins, to alleviate the effects of seizures and enforcement interventions." This returns to the notion that drug markets are flexible and so "extremely resilient (UKDPC 2008)" with the ability to sporadically disperse and reconnect in accordance with law enforcement interventions. These markets for that reason prove highly fluid and adaptable, suggesting effective monitoring to be more difficult. It is therefore questionable whether such an extortionate proportion of UK expenditure to combat 'organised crime' using a supply reduction technique, as this research suggests the cost-benefit ratio to be disproportionate.
Demand and harm reduction
The research study also concluded there to be little or "no relationship between the rate of arrest for heroin use/possession and the price of heroin" or the "rate of admission to local methadone clinics (Weatherburn and Lind 1997)." Current practise employs "inconvenience policing (UKDPC Tackling Drug Markets and Distribution Networks in the UK 2008)" like the stop and search and/or arrest of heroin buyers in attempt to deter users in the future. This approach has little empirical evidence to suggest it to be an effective deterrent but instead an "irksome (UKDPC Tackling Drug Markets and Distribution Networks in the UK 2008)"approach to combating demand or harm reduction. This methodology can be viewed as more harmful than preventing harm, as inconsistent police responses may force users not to carry injection paraphernalia, increasing the likelihood of dangerous needle sharing. Furthermore, "altering both the behaviour of individual drug users and the stability and operation of drug markets, this approach to law enforcement could be acting counter productively(UKDPC Tackling Drug Markets and Distribution Networks in the UK 2008)."
Weatherburn and Lind's (1997) research does however state that two-thirds of those who sought entry to local methadone programmes indicated the price as a reason for stopping using heroin. Despite this, reflectively it is logical to propose that demand, supply and harm reduction focused law enforcement policies "alone is unlikely to be effective at reducing or solving problems concerning drug market activity (UKDPC Tackling Drug Markets and Distribution Networks in the UK 2008).
Definitional issues when analysing policy in relation to 'transnational' crime
Heroin smuggling 'Organised crime' is often described as 'transnational' criminality however many express that "a better understanding of organised crime can be gained from interrogating its local manifestation (Hobbs 1998)." Hobbs (1998) crystallises these discrepancies most credibly in his Going Down the Glocal: The Local Context of Organised Crime.
Considering the 'organised crime' phenomenon remains at the forefront of current policy, it is easy to accept the portrayal of heroin smuggling to be a 'transnational' problem. This term can portray misconceptions and so should be used cautiously as realistically crime is not experienced transnationally but instead stems from a "series of independent local units (Dunnighan and Hobbs 1996)" and networks that "stretch around the globe(Harvey 1989)." Hence, the phrase 'transnational' can be deemed descriptively inadequate because the "concept fails to embrace the complexity of 'local contextualities' (Giddens 1991 cited in Hobbs 1998)." Moreover, drug networks "constitute continuous paths that lead from the local to the global (Latour 1993 cited in Hobbs 1998)." Hence, from smuggling heroin across the country borders from Afghanistan to distributing on UK streets, the criminal networks are "local at all points (Latour 1993)" but operating within a larger market that extends globally.
Contextually, this could suggest that in order to disrupt global drug markets, focus should be localised to combat local networks and markets in order to disrupt larger drug smuggling markets. Thus to reiterate, the "localisation of the drug market will help policy making (Hobbs 1998),' rather than using generic global attempts to reduce heroin smuggling as an 'organised crime.'
What wider implications does heroin smuggling have on other criminality in the UK?
Actors in heroin smuggling networks are often involved in numerous alternative criminal networks, by holding transferrable skills. Bruisma and Bernasco (2004) comprehend that "certain characteristics and skills can be utilized in different criminal activities, such as a willingness to take risks, an ability to conceal illegal activities, an ability to threaten violence, a willingness to use violence, and having an extended network of criminal contacts." Many criminal and non criminal networks can be observed to overlap proving that "criminal collaborative links are not necessarily market-specific (Brunisma and Bernasco 2004)." This allows actors within networks to transfer and integrate between different criminal markets.
Kleemans et al (2008) elucidates that "social opportunity structure" can highlight why offenders within illegal heroin smuggling can have active involvement in numerous criminal networks and markets. It is theorised that it is essential social ties that "provide access to alternative profitable criminal opportunities (Kleemans et al 2008)." A "snowball effect (Kleemans and Van de Bunt 1999)." illustrates this idea, suggesting that once a person transitions into a criminal network, through social ties and a transfer of inter-actor knowledge and contacts, opportunity arises to broaden their involvement in other networks and illegal markets. This echoes aspects of social learning theory (Akers and Jenning 2009) demonstrating that observation and involvement in criminal activity provides learning opportunities that in this context can provide prospects of broadening a person's involvement in numerous criminal networks and markets.
Such theoretical association therefore supports reasoning for the urgent need to disrupt criminal markets, rather than placing predominate focus on reducing supplies of heroin. Evidently, heroin smuggling networks and markets pose serious problems for global government agencies, with serious implications for law enforcement agencies. Research analysis suggests that a combination of definitional issues, combined with a lack of sufficient, empirically supported policy focus is contributing to defects in delivering effective policy to combat the causes of 'organised crime.'