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Australian Army trials.
Australian troops during a
routine night patrol of Honiara.
utside specialist circles, little is written about the gradual
erosion of governance in weak states caused by transnational
organised crime. Yet transnational organised crime has
developed enormously in the Asia-Pacific region since 1990
and the end of the Cold War. It has played a role in the
steady decline of effective governance in the fragile Pacific states. It
certainly played a role in the failure of the Solomon Islands. It might open
the way for defacto colonial rule by China in some Pacific states should
they so choose; and if they do not (as in the Solomon Islands) it creates
a strategic distraction for powers such as Australia who may oppose the
spread of Chinese influence. The corrosive influence of transnational
organised crime in the Solomon Islands played a role in forcing a necessary
Australian colonial intervention.
Transnational organised crime also poses direct strategic threats to the
region. The development of two profitable, highly successful and extremely
sophisticated trans-Pacific drug supply chains since 1995 bears witness to
this. Multi-ton shipments of cocaine move west, while similar shipments
of heroin, methamphetamines and precursors (as well as people) move
east. Meanwhile, the supply chains established are used to flood Pacific
states with counterfeit goods, ruining honest businesses and enabling
illegal immigrants and their masters to seriously damage their economies.
All along these supply chains, local governance is eroded, or laid open to
corruption on a scale it cannot possibly withstand.
This article is the first of two, which will examines all of these issues. The
first article will cover the broad picture, while the second – to be published
in October APDR - will cover the impacts on individual Pacific States.
TRANSNATIONAL ORGANISED CRIME
Transnational organised crime is different. Conventional criminal acts
are committed by individuals to meet the criminal’s immediate needs.
Organised crime is exemplified by outlaw motorcycle groups. They work
for profits over the long term by organising services, whereby customer
demands for illegal goods and services are met. Transnational organised
crime however, simply raises the stakes to a new plane. To qualify, it has to
meet one or more of the following criteria.
example being a supply chain for counterfeit goods produced in China
and sold in Australia.
a criminal group in more than one nation. An example being where
Tongan transnational organised criminals move cocaine and heroin
from Tongan stockpiles to Australia.
substantial effect in another nation. An example being where Fijian
Indian organised criminals undervalue exports from India to Fiji and
deny Fiji customs revenue.
the preparation, planning, direction or control takes place in another.
An example is the construction of the methamphetamines ‘Superlab’ in
Suva, Fiji, but which was planned in China.
Criminals are expert risk managers, well aware of the need to protect
their operational and financial cores. Transnational organised criminal
businesses are no longer mono-ethnic or wedded to one commodity. They
Transnational Organised Crime and
the Threat to Strategic Stability
PART 1 THE NATURE AND GROWTH OF TRANSNATIONAL ORGANISED CRIME 1990-2010
APDR Sept 2010.indd 17
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