Blog #2:Global Organized Crime

In Chapter 27, James H. Mittelman argues that globalization has transformed organized crime. Like transnational corporations, crime groups, according to Mittelman, are also economic actors because they use market mechanisms to make money globally. These mechanisms include forming alliances, investing and laundering their capital, using global information networks, and protecting themselves against risks (237). Technological innovations have made it easier for information to be transferred from one country to another. Aided by advances in airline travel and telecommunications, crime groups have found easier ways to move goods and labor across borders. Cities that are global centers, like New York, have become hot spots for crime groups to carry out their financial activities. Mittelman illustrates the globalization of organized crime by discussing the smuggling of Chinese immigrants. Smugglers in China, called triads, have contacts with people known as tongs in Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown community. Their connections allows for the global transfer of labor from Asia to the United States. Technological innovations are not the only affects globalization has had on organized crime. Mittelman points out that the opening of factories in China pushed farmers off the land, and, in effect, forced them to look for work elsewhere. China’s transition to a market economy marginalized these people, into crowded cities where jobs and services were becoming scarce due to increasing migration. Crime groups tend to flourish in poverty stricken communities. Knowing that these people are desperate, crime groups make money off poor people’s impoverished condition by smuggling them into other countries as laborers.

Mittelman states that the globalization of organized crime weakens the basis of government. By using computers and blending into ethnic neighborhoods around the globe, it is difficult for police to find criminal gangs and prosecute them for their illegal activities. In Pakistan, things are a bit different. The government is aware that opium is being made into heroin in secret labs, but they do not intervene in these areas because the Pashtun tribe rules there. An uprising is sure to occur, so instead the Pakistani government feels if they can convince poppy growers to substitute poppies for other crops, like oranges, then the labs would close down and the drug problem will decrease. The reporter provides the statistic that 1 in 11 males over age 15 in Pakistan are addicted to heroin. Due to these labs, it is easy to get and is inexpensive. Additionally, opium is smuggled into the country from Afghanistan. The government’s anti-drug crusade has been met with little success, as poppy farmers are armed and are more than willing to fight. Farmers do not feel they are involved in drug or illegal activity because they consider poppies a cash crop.  Since the Pakistani government that spends 80% of its budget on the military, not on services for its people, the income poppy growing generates (20 times more than what wheat generates!) is important for survival. It is very interesting how groups, the farmers and the Pashtun tribe, have so much influence over the Pakistani government’s actions when it comes to drug regulation. Mittelman may consider them crime groups because they are alternative social organizations that challenge the power and authority of the state.

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2 Responses to “Blog #2:Global Organized Crime”

  1. ahsana says:

    This blog is very interesting. Although there are many positive aspect of globalization, Mittleman’s article informs us about some of the negative aspects of globalization such as organized crimes. Distributing drugs globally and smuggling immigrants is a serious issue and can have devastating harmful effects to society in the future. An advanced technological innovation makes it easier for these illegal actions to take place and makes it difficult for government to track them, so they can put a end to this. I think in order for government to put a stop to this they have to dig to the root of the problem and stop it there. Although these social organizations are challenging the states power and authority I think government has to be firm and stringent about this issue.

  2. Prof. Hala says:

    Fantastic job tying together different material and common themes, as well as providing rich descriptions of different societal challenges in different places. You include a key fact in your post, that the Pakistan govt spends 80% of its revenue on the military. And that fact has special relevance for US citizens, since a good portion of that revenue comes from the US in the form of “foreign aid.” Pakistan is the third largest recipient of US foreign aid, behind Israel and Egypt.