COVID Spurs ‘Scourge’ of Organized Crime: Report

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Will History Repeat Itself? Scene of a Camorra murder, Italy, 1998. Photos from Cippolini Collection via Flickr.

The majority of people worldwide live in countries with high levels of organized crime, a crisis made worse by COVID-19, according to the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GI-TOC).

Transnational organized crime is an underlying driver of many major geopolitical challenges, including conflict, political instability and forced migration.

On Tuesday, the Global Organized Crime Index will be launched by GI-TOC, drawing upon 350 experts and a two year effort to develop this tool. It measured the criminality in 193 UN member states.

“Organized crime is a scourge that afflicts countries in every corner of the globe, from tiny island states to large economic superpowers, and is an underlying driver of many major geopolitical challenges including conflict, political instability and forced migration,” said the group.

The Index highlights the adaptability of organized crime to the pandemic. In the face of lockdowns and travel restrictions, criminals not only “retooled their regular business, but also exploited new opportunities presented by the global health crisis,” said GI-TOC.

Individuals, communities and businesses struggling to stay afloat also became increasingly vulnerable to organized criminal behavior, either as victims or as perpetrators.

The Index tracks human trafficking, human smuggling, arms trafficking, the heroin, cocaine and cannabis trades, synthetic drugs, fauna crimes, nonrenewable resource crimes and flora crimes.

Addressing the pervasiveness and entrenched nature of organized crime revealed by the Index will require a coordinated global response, said GI-TOC, “but as yet this remains lacking.”

By providing a consolidated hub of data and baseline evidence of the phenomenon in countries across the world, the Index aims to be a catalyst for further debate on transnational organized crime.

Nancy Bilyeau is deputy editor of The Crime Report

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