Criminal Innovation and Illicit Global Markets: Transnational Crime in Asia
Conference Paper, Philippine Social Science Council Beyond Politics and Spectacle: Crime, Drugs and Punishment, March 17-18, 2017, Manila, Quezon City
34 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2016 Last revised: 14 Apr 2017
Date Written: April 13, 2017
The size and reach of the market in illicit products and services reflect patterns of globalization, economic growth, and armed conflict as well as government and civil society responses to the impacts of these markets. In Asia, these illicit markets have grown rapidly with the opening up of trade and development of China, India and ASEAN boosted by infrastructure development and increased wealth. Traditional crime groups have re-vitalized and new entrepreneurial crime groups have emerged to capitalise on the illicit market opportunities contributing to a surge in the distribution and the use of narcotics as well as other contraband (i.e. counterfeit products and medicines, timber, exotic species, e-waste, weapons, labour trafficking) in Asia and worldwide. These developments have triggered extreme responses, such as Philippines’ President Duterte’s bloody ‘war on drugs’.
Illicit drugs account for more than a third of the estimated annual $US100 billion criminal economy in Asia (UNODC, 2013). Countermeasures at the regional (ASEAN, UNODC, INTERPOL) and national level have focused law enforcement on drug supply and distribution while alternative ‘harm reduction’ approaches, including treatment and de-criminalisation, have not developed apace. Policies such as ‘drug free zones’ and the ‘war on drugs’ have unintended consequences, undermining the rule of law and enhancing the profits of criminal organisations. Chronic court delays and severe prison overcrowding are also costly by-products. This paper outlines the illicit markets-criminal organisations nexus in Asia and considers how responses to transnational crime can amplify or diminish its hidden power.
Keywords: Triad, Organized Crime, Illicit Markets, Counterfeit Products, Golden Triangle
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