Criminal Groups and Transnational Illegal Markets: A More Detailed Specification With the Aid of Social Network Theory

Gerben Bruinsma, NSCR and Leiden University
Wim Bernasco, NSCR

Criminological research in the last ten years makes clear that organized crime groups can be considered as flexible criminal networks. However, this concept in criminology is far from clear. In this paper three kinds of organized crime groups are examined with the aid of concepts of social network theory. The criminal groups are studied in three illegal transnational markets: (1) heroine market; (2) the market of stolen cars, and (3) the trade in women. These three illegal markets are described briefly to present the context in which the criminal groups are executing their criminal activities. Based on existing empirical data of Dutch studies on transnational criminal groups, the structure and kind of relationships in their networks are analyzed. The analyses show great differences in shape, content and, structure of the criminal networks. The paper will be concluded by some propositions on criminal groups and by some recommendations for criminological research in the area of organized crime

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Updated 05/20/2006