The end of the twentieth century ushered in an era of transformative technology that has revolutionized the global marketplace. At the same time, transnational criminal networks have benefited from this revolution and have used it to penetrate economies and political entities across the globe. Their tremendous growth has had staggering consequences for the stability and development of states, and has posed a serious threat to the lives and wellbeing of populations everywhere. In addition to globalization, a shift in government resources toward combating international terrorism has also provided this opportunity, and the collective response in combating this scourge so far has been either timid or misguided.
Traditionally organized crime was viewed as a domestic concern. Today however, organized crime often weaves seamlessly across national borders. This issue of the Journal aptly broadens the traditional domestic scope by focusing on organized crime's transnational nature. The editors have solicited a wide range of experts to discuss its impact in an effort to expose and confront this little-understood threat to global security and development. Rather than catalogue all forms of crime in every region, this issue seeks to provide a better understanding of transnational organized crime (TOC) as a phenomenon by exploring its stimuli, consequences, and possible solutions.
Each essay focuses on a particular characteristic of TOC, using regional or topical cases to illustrate the author's arguments. Jay Albanese opens the issue by showing how crime has evolved under twenty-first-century conditions, arguing that TOC is in fact a modern manifestation of age-old crimes.
The next two authors, Louise Shelley and Michael Levi, focus on global commerce. Shelley undertakes an in-depth analysis of the multibillion-dollar counterfeit market, which she depicts as a hotbed for terrorism and corruption. Levi, in his discussion on the shifting complexities of who and what are threatened by TOC seeks to redefine commercial fraud as a manifestation of organized crime.
The issue then pivots to the effects of the drug trade on the stability and development of fragile states. Douglas Farah reports on the changing nature of Central American gangs, in particular their strengthening of ties with transnational criminal organizations, which he argues will wreak havoc on the region and its fragile institutions. Ashley N. Bybee examines how new trends in the drug trade in...