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How To Combat Transnational Crime

U.S. National Security Advisor, General James Jones.
U.S. National Security Advisor, General James Jones.

Transnational crime is a threat to the security of each of our nations that we must address together.

Speaking at a Security Conference in Sochi, Russia in early October, U.S. National Security Advisor General James Jones said that "transnational crime is no longer solely a public safety or law enforcement problem that is the exclusive purview of domestic authorities. Rather, it is a threat to the security of each of our nations that we must address together."

Whereas in decades past, criminal organizations were largely domestic or regional in scope, and due to their centralized nature the arrest of a single key member was sometimes enough to dismantle them, today's global criminal syndicates operate transnationally and are comprised of loose networks that cooperate intermittently but maintain their independence. And unlike their predecessors, they employ sophisticated technology and financial savvy, said General Jones.

"Enterprises that once focused on particular illicit activities are increasingly diversifying their operations," he said. "If we do not act together to prevent them, these trends will only continue to intensify in the years to come. And that is something that should concern all our nations. In a world full of transnational threats, transnational crime is in an ascendant phase."

To fight back, we must organize around a set of fundamental principles, said General Jones. We must protect our citizens from the violence and exploitation by criminal networks, and help vulnerable countries fight corruption and foster good governance. We must break the financial infrastructures of transnational criminal networks, and build international consensus and cooperation.

This we can do by strengthening traditional law enforcement functions; by denying criminals access to the international financial system; by disrupting drug trafficking, which facilitates many other illicit enterprises. We must take steps to prevent criminals from traveling by protecting our borders. And we must develop international partnerships to target more aggressively transnational criminal threats and illicit networks especially across the Pacific and Atlantic.

"The expanding size, scope, and influence of transnational crime threatens each of those principles," said General James Jones, "and is one of the most significant security challenges we face . . . . as an international community. No nation, no matter how powerful, can tackle it alone. And we look forward to working together . . . . to help shape a better future for each of our countries."