Episode 6: Transnational Crime and Criminology
This blog is the sixth and final in a series related to the inaugural season of the Oxford Centre for Criminology Podcast
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In this episode of the Oxford Criminology podcast Dr Alexander Kupatadze is interviewed. He is an expert in the field of transnational crime and corruption in post-soviet Eurasia. While in Latin American countries the main commodity smuggled across borders is narcotics and specifically cocaine, a more diversified array of goods pass through the borders of Eurasian countries. Tobacco, heroin, arms and radioactive materials, potentially purchased by politically motivated groups in an attempt to construct atomic weapons, are among the products passing through.
Throughout the podcast he details the vulnerability of post-communist Eurasian states to political corruption and thus high levels of organised and petty crime which are not mutually exclusive phenomena, but interlinked and somewhat interdependent. In Eurasian countries, large scale smuggling is usually carried out by state affiliated actors. Therefore, concerning the notion that political corruption should be reduced, the assumption follows that organised and petty crime will likewise suffer. To achieve this our guest points to the effectiveness of ‘political reshuffling’ in the form of revolution. However, these radical transitions of power are unlikely in many of these post-soviet and Latin American states.
When questioned about what could be done to halt the flow of illicit products and reduce organised crime, Dr Kupatadze outlined that the Russia-Ukrainian war presents new threats and challenges, but also opportunities to halt the flow of illicit products. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many of the traditional smuggling routes used by groups have been closed and therefore these groups are looking for alternative routes. He impressed that in this scenario and in all cases of prevention, integrated-comparative studies are essential and can be used to learn and pre-empt these organisations next move. He further outlined that academics’ tendency to compartmentalise crimes and groups into distinct categories is unhelpful. Crime, he stated, is fluid and flexible. Political/terrorist organisations, organised crime groups and petty criminals are not necessarily operating in different fields; often there is collusion and overlap. For example, terrorist groups regularly function as diversified criminal businesses in order to fund their criminal activity and exchange favours with petty criminals.
Furthermore, in combatting terrorists activity, Dr Kupatadze discussed the use of profiling and algorithms. Effective profiling has been considered difficult if not impossible. Therefore, he considers that while these methods may be important in narrowing existing networks, more intense examinations of individual cases need to be made before decisions are made.
Finally, the podcast concludes with a discussion of the media’s influence on transnational criminal activity and terrorism; does social media present new problems or solutions? Dr Kupatadze acknowledges the preventative potential of social media through education. The informed citizen, he argues, is one of the greatest combatants to corruption, organised crime, and terrorism. However, social media also aids terrorists and criminal organisation by providing them with a greater platform for disseminating their idea and selling their services/products.
How to cite this blog post (Harvard style):A. Schuster. (2022) Episode 6: Transnational Crime and Criminology. Available at:https://blogs.law.ox.ac.uk/centre-criminology-blog/blog-post/2022/10/episode-6-transnational-crime-and-criminology. Accessed on: 01/06/2023