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- UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime defines an organised criminal group as:
- A group of three or more persons that were not randomly formed; existing for a period of time; acting in concert with the aim of committing at least one crime punishable by at least four years’ incarceration; in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, financial or other material benefits.
- Organised crimes are done with the motive of monetary gains by illegal means. Organised crimes are transnational in nature. Their presence is a great threat to the country’s security.
- Organised crime as per Maharashtra control of organised crime act, 1999-
” Organised crime” means any continuing unlawful activity by an individual, singly or jointly, either as a member of an organised crime syndicate or on behalf of such syndicate by using violence or threat of violence or intimidation or coercion, or other unlawful means, with the objective of gaining pecuniary benefits, or gaining undue economic or other advantages for himself or any person or promoting insurgency.
- Interpol has defined organised crime as “Any group having a corporate structure whose primary objective is to obtain money through illegal activities, often surviving on fear and corruption”
- According to UNODC Organized crime is considered to be a changing and flexible phenomenon.
- Many of the benefits of globalization such as easier and faster communication, movement of finances and international travel, have also created opportunities for transnational organized criminal groups to flourish, diversify and expand their activities.
- Traditional, territorial-based criminal groups have evolved or have been partially replaced by smaller and more flexible networks with branches across several jurisdictions. In the course of an investigation, victims, suspects, organized criminal groups and proceeds of crime may be located in many States. Moreover, organized crime affects all States, whether as countries of supply, transit or demand. As such, modern organized crime constitutes a global challenge that must be met with a concerted, global response.
- Organised crime (OC) is a highly sophisticated, diversified, and widespread activity that annually drains billions of dollars from the global economy by unlawful conduct and illegal use of force, fraud, and corruption.
- Organised criminal activities weaken the stability of the nation’s economic system, harm innocent investors and competing organisations, interfere with free competition, seriously burdens interstate and foreign commerce, threaten domestic security and undermine the general welfare of the nation and its citizen
- Organised crime can be grouped into two parts as-
- Traditional organised crime (illicit liquor trade, betting, gambling, extortion etc.).
- Non-traditional organised crime (money laundering, circulation of fake currency, Hawala transfer etc.)
- Organised crime thrives in areas where enforcement of law and order is not proper.
|Factors helping in the growth of organised crime|
- Increasing demands of illegal goods in the global market like the trade of Human organs, endangered wildlife, drugs etc.
- Geographical terrain and opens borders.
- Globalisation had brought new opportunities and markets for these groups.
- Unholy nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and criminals
- The criminalisation of politics.
- Technology also helped them to operate safely hence reducing their risk.
- Return compared to the risk factor is very high.
- India’s proximity with drug-producing regions like Golden Crescent in the West and Golden Triangle in the East.
- The globalisation of the economy has definitely helped crime syndicates carry out their illegal activities across the borders with great ease. This has been further facilitated by the phenomenon of ‘digital money'. Such organisations, very conveniently find safe havens outside the country.
|Characteristics Of Organised Crime|
- The criminal group operates beyond the lifetime of individual members and is structured to survive changes in the lead ship.
- The criminal group is structured as a collection of Hierarchically arranged interdependent offices devoted to the Accomplishment of a particular function. It may be highly structured or maybe rather fluid. It is, however, distinguishable as the ranks are based on power and authority.
- The membership in the core criminal group is restricted and based on common traits such as ethnicity, criminal background or common interests. The potential members are subjected to a lot of scrutinies and required to prove their worth and loyalty to the criminal group.
- The rules of membership include secrecy, a willingness to commit any act for the group and intent to protect the group. In return for loyalty, the member of a criminal group receives economic benefits, certain prestige, and protection from law enforcement.
- The criminal group relies on continuing criminal activity to generate income. Thus, continuing criminal conspiracy is inherent in organized crime. Some activities such As supplying illegal goods and services.
- Violence and the threat of violence are an integral part of a criminal group. The violence or threat of it is used against the members of the group to keep them in line as also against the outsiders to protect the economic interests of the group. Members are expected to commit, condone or authorize violent acts.
- The members of the criminal group aim at maximizing the group’s profits. Political power is achieved through the corruption of public officials, including legislators and political executives. The criminal group maintains power through its association with the “protectors” who defend the group and its profit
|Types Of Organised Crime|
Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking
- It is perhaps the most serious organised crime affecting the country and is truly transnational in character. India is geographically situated between the countries of Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent and is a transit point for narcotic drugs produced in these regions to the West.
- India also produces a considerable amount of licit opium, part of which also finds its place in the illicit market in different forms. The illicit drug trade in India centres around five major substances, namely, heroin, hashish, opium, cannabis and methaqualone. Seizures of cocaine, amphetamine, and LSD are not unknown but are insignificant and rare.
- Smuggling, which consists of clandestine operations leading to unrecorded trade, is another major economic offence. The volume of smuggling depends on the nature of fiscal policies pursued by the Government. The nature of smuggled items and the quantum thereof is also determined by the prevailing fiscal policies.
- India has a vast coastline of about 7,500 kms and open borders with Nepal and Bhutan and is prone to large scale smuggling of contraband and other consumable items.
- Though it is not possible to quantify the value of contraband goods smuggled into this country, it is possible to have some idea of the extent of smuggling from the value of contraband seized, even though they may constitute a very small proportion of the actual smuggling.
Money Laundering & Hawala
- Money laundering means the conversion of illegal and ill-gotten money into seemingly legal money so that it can be integrated into the legitimate economy. Proceeds of drug-related crimes are an important source of money laundering the world over.
- Besides, tax evasion and violation of exchange regulations play an important role in merging this ill-gotten money with tax evaded income so as to obscure its origin.
- This aim is generally achieved via the intricate steps of placement, layering and integration so that the money so integrated into the legitimate economy can be freely used by the offenders without any fear of detection.
- Money laundering poses a serious threat the world over, not only to the criminal justice systems of the countries but also to their sovereignty
Terrorism & Narco-Terrorism
- Terrorism is a serious problem which India is facing. Conceptually, terrorism does not fall in the category of organised crime, as the dominant motive behind terrorism is political and/or ideological and not the acquisition of money-power.
- The Indian experience, however, shows that the criminals are perpetrating all kinds of crimes, such as killings, rapes, kidnappings, gun-running and drug trafficking, under the umbrella of terrorist organisations.
- The offence of murder is punishable under section 302 IPC by life imprisonment or death sentence. The conviction rate in murder cases is about 38%. The chance of detection in contract killings is quite low.
- The method adopted in contract killings is by engaging a professional gang for monetary consideration.
Kidnapping for Ransom
- Kidnapping for ransom is a highly organised crime in urban conglomerates. There are several local as well as inter-State gangs involved in it as the financial rewards are immense vis-a-vis the labour and risk involved.
Illegal Immigration A large number of Indians are working
- Abroad, particularly in the Gulf region. Young people want to move to foreign countries for lucrative jobs. Large scale migration is fostered by the high rate of unemployment in the country and higher wage levels in foreign lands. As it is not easy for the aspirants to obtain valid travel documents and jobs abroad, they fall into the trap of unscrupulous travel agents and employment agencies.
- Trading in sex and girl-running is a very profitable business in which the underworld plays an important part. Flesh trade has been flourishing in India in various places and in different forms. The underworld is closely connected with brothels and call girl rackets, making plenty of money through this activity.
- They supply young girls to brothels in different parts of the country, shuttling them to and from the city to minimise the risk of their being rescued. According to a study conducted by the Indian Health Organisation, there are over 1,000,000 prostitutes in Bombay and an equal number in Calcutta. Delhi and Pune have an estimated 40,000 each.
|Problems In Control Efforts|
Inadequate Legal Structure
- There are several difficulties in combatting organised crime. First of all, India does not have a special law to control/suppress organised crime. Being a continuing conspiracy, the incidents of organised crime are dealt with under the general conspiracy law and relevant special Acts.
- The existing law is inadequate as it targets individuals and not criminal groups or criminal enterprises. Conspiracies are hatched in darkness and proving them in a court of law is a herculean task.
Difficulties in Obtaining Proof
- As organised criminal groups are structured in a hierarchical manner, the higher echelons of leadership are insulated from law enforcement. It may be possible to have the actual perpetrators of crime convicted, but it is difficult to go beyond them in the hierarchy because of rules of evidence, particularly, non-admissibility of confessions made by criminals before the police.
- The witnesses are not willing to depose for fear of their lives and there is no law to provide protection to the witnesses against organized gangs. The informers are not willing to come forward like some kind of stigma is attached to being an ‘informer’.
Lack of Resources & Training
- In our Constitutional framework, the police are the State’s subject. Investigation of cases, their prosecution and the setting up of the criminal courts is the responsibility of the State Government concerned. Most of the States face a resources crunch and are not in the position to spare adequate resources for the criminal justice system agencies.
- The number of police personnel posted in police stations is inadequate. Besides, hardly any training facilities exist for the investigation of organised crime.
Lack of Co-ordination
- India does not have a national-level agency to coordinate the efforts of the State/city police organisations as well as central enforcement agencies, for combating organised crime. Further, there is no agency to collect, collate, analyse, document and function as a central exchange of information relating to international and inter-state gangs operating in India and abroad. Similarly, there is no system of sustained pursuit of selected gangs at the national and state level.
- Apart from a lack of institutional framework, there are problems of coordination between the Central Government and the State Governments and between one State Government and another State Government due to differences in political perceptions.
Criminal, Political & Bureaucratic Nexus
- There has been a rapid spread and growth of criminal gangs, armed Senas, drug mafias, smuggling gangs, drug peddlers and economic lobbyists in the country which have, over the years, developed an extensive network of contacts with the bureaucrats, government functionaries, politicians, media persons and democratically elected individuals at the local level.
- Some of these Syndicates also have international linkages, including with foreign intelligence agencies. In certain states like Bihar, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, these gangs enjoy the patronage of local-level politicians cutting across party lines
- The crime syndicates do not respect national boundaries. Certain crimes, particularly drug trafficking, are planned in one part of the world and executed in another.
- Criminals also move fast from one part of the globe to another. Different nations have different legal structures. A certain act may be a ‘crime’ in one country but not in another. To illustrate, money laundering is a crime in the USA and several European countries but not in India
No Specific law:
- India does not have any specific law to deal with organised crime. It depends on various provisions of IPC and other laws which are scattered.
The anonymity of leadership
- As organised criminal groups are structured in a hierarchical manner, it becomes difficult to identify these leaders. Also, such groups keep changing their leadership to avoid law enforcement agencies.
No Central Agency
- India does not have any central agency to coordinate with state agencies, for combating organised crime.
- Some of the crimes are planned outside the country. Tough terrain in India’s neighbourhood provides safe havens to these organised criminals.
Poor criminal justice system
- There are 3 crore pending cases in the Indian judiciary. The delayed justice and poor investigation by police also give the opportunity to these organised criminals to exploit the system.
- We should also create one central agency mandated under the law, to coordinate with state agencies for all the issues related to organised crime.
- Improving intelligence is the most important task because organised crimes are done anonymously. Such anonymity can only be traced with the help of strong local intelligence.
- Cooperation of International organisations, governments and civil society is needed to curb crimes with no borders.
- The central government should allocate more resources to the state government to improve its criminal justice system.
- The police department should be made truly independent to deal with organised criminals.
- Improving the criminal justice system.
- Separating law and order functions and investigation functions of the police.
- Unemployment should be reduced by giving priority to job creation and skill development.
|Linkages Between Organised Crime and Terrorism|
- Terrorism and organised crimes (money laundering, drug trade, weapons trade, human trafficking, fake currency) are conjoint twins that pose a great threat to the world through their syndicate and their deadly effects.
- As to carry out terrorist activity a lot of money is required so, terrorists engage in organised crime to fund their terrorist activity. Organised crime is the main source to generate money for terrorists.
- Due to the transnational nature of the organised crime, they host the terrorist and create opportunities for their growth in new areas.
- Terrorist groups use the established network of organised criminal groups for the transfer of money.
- Organised crime groups provide smuggled arms and explosives to terrorist groups in exchange terrorist groups provide protection, drugs etc.
- The terrorist organisations also mobilise funds by providing couriers of illegal drugs and arms etc. for the various organised criminal groups.
- They have a symbiotic relationship and their strong presence can be seen in the areas having ineffective governance. But all organised crime is not terrorist acts and not all terrorist acts are organised crimes.
Examples showing the relationship between organised crime and terrorism:
- Human trafficking, drug trafficking and gun-running are some of the other criminal activities that have been common sources of funds for terrorism.
- In the Northeast, extortion is the fundamental basis for funding all forms of terrorism. In addition to this, kidnapping has been used extensively for spreading terror and raising funds.
- In J&K, counterfeit currency has been a major source of funding terrorism. Money laundering plays a significant role. Hawala (money laundering) transactions take place swiftly and effectively in Kashmir.
- In the Maoist terror movements, extortion is yet again a common phenomenon. They have also indulged in robberies of banks to fund their movement.
Similarities Between Organised Crime and Terrorism:
- Both use extreme violence and the threat of reprisals. The violent activities include the use of kidnappings, assassinations, and extortion.
- Both operate secretly, though at times publicly in friendly territory.
- Both defy the state and the rule of law. They present a great security threat to the nations.
- Both are highly adaptable, innovative, and resilient.
- They both have provided social services, though this is much more frequently seen with terrorist groups.
Difference between organised crime and terrorism
Linkages Between Organised Crime and Terrorism:
- Terrorist groups need arms and money to fight against security forces. The organised criminals and terrorist groups become clients of each other. Organised criminals groups smuggle arms, drugs, cattle, humans to generate money for terrorist groups.
- Terrorist groups always try to destabilise the country and bring down the morale of security forces. When the terrorist groups are unable to confront the security forces directly, they turn towards organised criminals. Thus organised criminals indirectly help these terrorist groups.
- Organised criminal groups generally establish a strong communication network. These organised groups act as eyes and ears of the terrorist groups.
- Terrorist organizations in India, especially in the northeast, mobilize funds by becoming couriers of illegal drugs and arms and at times even human beings from one point to another within the country.
- Terrorists are always in need of money. As they fail to mobilise large amounts of money, they take the help of organised criminals to exchange counterfeit currency with arms.
- Penetration of Organised crime and its link with terrorism in different states of India.
Breaking the Nexus of organised crime and terrorism
- With increasing international pressure, increased understanding between governments of different countries the state funding of these terrorists is going down day by day so, for financial viability, their link with organised crime is increasing.
Following steps can be taken to deal with nexus-
- Stringent laws are required like the Gangster act to tackle organised crime.
- Better intelligence and along with good military support.
- Disrupting the networks of terrorists and syndicates of organised criminal groups.
- Multilateral arrangements applied in which terrorist organisation and organised criminal network and their link can be broken by intelligence, local police and with help of central government departments.
- Loopholes in the laws which are exploited by the organised criminal networks should be removed.
- Capacity and better training to law enforcement agencies of the country.
- Government’s effort to deal with organised crime in the country-
- Various laws under IPC and CRPC.
- Enactment of Maharashtra control of organised crime act, 1999.
- The unlawful activities prevention act of 1967.
- Various measures related to the prevention of these crimes in border areas and coastal regions of the country.
- Strengthening of law enforcement of agencies.
- But as organised crimes are transnational in nature collect efforts needed.
- So, at the world level, these initiatives were taken
- UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime along with three other protocols i.e. trafficking in persons especially women and children, smuggling of migrants, illegal manufacturing and trafficking of firearms.
- Creation of financial action task force to deal with the issue of money laundering and terror funding.
- The threat of organised crime is increasing day by day as organised crime feed over instability and weak law enforcement so, strengthening the governance mechanism is the key. India must take its immediate neighbour in confidence that their land must not be used for organised crime and strengthening the regional organisation.