I wish to bring knowledge to the general community about some key issues that I believe are critical to our health, social stability, and prosperity.  We all wish and need to live in a healthy, stable, and prosperous environment.  I refer you to Maslow’s Heirarchy of Needs when I suggest that our basic needs are not being met – thus contributing to the general state of unhappiness throughout society [Sources: World Happiness Report – Addiction and Unhappiness in America, Wikipedia].

Introduction

Organized Crime does not contribute positively to our overall happiness; nor to our economic outlook in general.  Crime groups have evolved through the years, with some becoming so large they have a ‘corporate’ like structure complete with Organizational Charts, C-Level Executives, and Human Resource departments!

While little seems to be published about them, their effects ripple across the lives of everybody in the world.  In 2000 the Mafia controlled approximately 20% of all of the businesses in Italy having an annual turnover of 15% of the Italian Gross National Product (GNP) [Source: BBC News].  Mafia profits were being invested in real estate, retirement homes, supermarkets, hotels, and restaurants – the monies made would have been enough to pay off the European public debt!

Even the rich are affected.  In 2010, one of Canada’s richest men poured $112 Million into a gambling venture headed by three businessmen with ties to organized crime, and were locked in an international fight over Caribbean casinos with links to one of Canada’s Mafia clans [source: CBC].  Some ‘businessmen’ in Russia laundered between $20 to $80 Billion dollars through Europe, Britain, and the USA from 2010 to 2014 [Sources: The Guardian, Wikipaedia, OCCRP].  In total, 19 Russian banks were involved, laundering money to 5,140 companies in 96 countries, through 732 banks. Money laundering only serves to devalue currencies and can lead to the eventual collapse of an economy.

As we turn our backs to Organized Crime in North America they gain more power and control – generating Billions in revenue [Source: Fortune.com].  The Council of Foreign Relations spoke of the dangers in remaining blind to organized crime’s penetration into our economies, but this did not receive the visibility it deserved in the media [Source: Council of Foreign Relations Video]. In 2017, in Canada, an exiting RCMP Commissioner went on the record stating that organized crime is the biggest threat facing Canadians – and he was not the first as back in 2012 the RCMP’s top Mafia-hunter in Ontario stated that a little-known Mafia organization called the ’Ndrangheta has risen to a “Tier 1” national threat. Even prior, in 2010, Canada’s CSIS advised of their concern over how much control and influence foreign governments have on the Canadian government.

The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency reported the threat posed by Organized Crime as being greater than that of terrorism costing their economy £37 Billion yearly [Source: BBC].  It states that there are over 4,600 serious and organized crime groups committing offenses including child abuse, trafficking, and drug dealing.  Europol also identified organized crime as a threat to the European Union [Source: Europol].  The United States National Security Council also advised that organized crime is becoming a threat to their National Security [Source: US White House Archives].  In Canada, organized crime is reported to have risen to a “Tier 1” national threat [Sources: The Star, The Globe and Mail].  In 2007 Canada’s Criminal Intelligence Service identified Canada as having over 950 organized crime groups [Source: CBC News].

Transnational organized crime poses a significant and growing threat to national and international security, with dire implications for public safety, public health, democratic institutions, and economic stability across the globe. To gain a better understanding of the history and current threats the Italian Mafia poses, I suggest you read a tactical paper published by Europol [Source: Europol].

Nation States

We sometimes forget that some Nation States are always looking for a weakness to exploit:

  • Little media coverage was provided when the Canadian Security Intelligence Service department advised concern over how much control and influence foreign governments have on the Canadian government [Source: CBC News (Video)]
  • In 2018 there was a lot of media coverage in the United States about Russia’s involvement in their elections [Source: CNN]
  • Significant media coverage of China regularly hacking United States interests of the United States – even after signing non-aggression agreements [Source: CNBC]
  • An article published on the Breaking Defense website discusses how the People’s Republic of China’s national effort to collect foreign technology, has yielded “…the loss of millions of US jobs, degradation of American industry, the rise of Beijing’s global political and economic clout, and a significant increase in China’s high tech military capabilities.”
  • In 2020 it was reported that 54 scientists have resigned or been fired from various institutions as a result of an investigation by the US National Institutes of Health their failure to disclose financial ties to foreign governments in the support of their research. In 93% of those cases a Chinese institution was providing the funding.

I often wonder – why isn’t anything done to these countries? Why does it seem that they are able to perform actions that are documented as ‘Acts of War’ – yet nothing happens? I submit that it might be something to do with the opinions aired in this commentary, which I feel hold significant truth.

Connecting Organized Crime With Nation States and Terrorism

Governments will partner with organized crime when faced with a common interest as this enables them to combine their power and influence and leverage information and contacts to infiltrate other governments, militaries, financial systems, public utilities, and infrastructure (with our own included)! For example, in 2017 an Canadian Security Advisor confirmed that some Nation States are backing organized crime when their agendas overlap – offering technical capabilities, impunity, and money to steal information from companies, or to send another nation state a “message” that they do not like an action they have taken [Source: IT World Canada].

Here is another article referencing that when goals or revenue streams become aligned, Organized Crime, Nation States, and Terrorists will join forces to extend their reach into countries and will share approaches and tactics [Source: AWD News, V3 News, Security Intelligence]. Here is a supporting news article regarding the Sicilian mafia being investigated for potential links to terrorist activities abroad [Source: The Guardian]. It is surprising just how aligned ISIS and the Mafia’s revenue generating systems are alike!

In January 2010, the U.S. government completed a review of international organized crime concluding that it had expanded dramatically.  The National Security Council stated, “Today’s criminal networks are fluid, striking new allegiances with other networks around the world and engaging in a wide range of illicit activities, including cyber crime and providing support for terrorism.” [Source: Security Intelligence, Security Intelligence].  This presents an international threat to financial systems through cyber-crime and sophisticated fraud schemes to create channels to fund terror campaigns and mass-casualty weapons. Even regular crime like shoplifting has even become tied to terrorist groups [Source: 10TV News].  While terrorism has come to Canada, it has yet to hit us hard [Source: National Post].

Cost of Crime

The Canadian government estimates between $5 to $15 Billion CAD is laundered annually in Canada by organized crime – which is part of a $1 Trillion dollar global industry.  It is estimated that organized crime costs Canadians 5 Billion dollars annually to combat economic-related crimes (credit / debit card fraud, e-crime, identity theft, email scams, phishing).

A survey from Javelin Strategy and Research estimates the annual total loss to Americans due to identity theft alone was roughly $20 Billion, and the Organization of American States estimates that organized crime makes approximately $34 Billion annually from the sale of cocaine.  In the US the Department of Justice has spent $622.2 Billion USD combating money laundering (amount spread over 60 years and total not including other government agencies).  [Sources: Statistics Canada, Globe and Mail, United Nations Office On Drugs And Crime, The Marshall Project].

Loss of Privacy

Another cost of crime rarely discussed with truth, due to secrecy and other secret uses for the collected information, is that of our loss of our privacy. While connected more with a terrorist attack on US soil, a program was enacted that effectively collected all of the information transmitted via any digital and analogue communication devices, almost around the world. This loss should not be discounted, as it continues to be actively gathered and used in ways that evade the judgement of any legal systems viewed by the public as having final authority around the world. Here is a great series Frontline did on this, call “United States of Secrets” – part one is here. Part two is here.

Ignoring it all

By ignoring Organized Crime, Nation States, or Terrorists, we essentially give away our economy and way of life.  A journalist on Ted Talk shared some of the far reaching impacts that organized crime has on us [Source: Ted Talks]. As we become more and more desensitized by the media, we must do our best to stand up for those living under less than satisfactory conditions and consider what they suffer: loss of life, freedom, liberty, and happiness [Source: Mirror, Independent, International Business Times, I am Syria, NBC News, Spiegel, Guardian, International Business Times].  And those unable to escape, and even those who do, will continue to be subjected to recruitment efforts [Source: Fox News World]. It is possible, left unchecked, Canada could become the next Italy, where the Army has been called in to help curb turf wars [Source: Mirror].

Corrective Measures

On January 29, 2014, the Brazilian Anti-corruption Law came into effect [Source: Global Compliance News].  This law mandated that legal entities would be held liable for illegal acts committed by any of its employees or by third parties, without the need to evidence intent or that the company’s management had actual knowledge or approved the specific improper acts.  The authorities only need to evidence that the illegal acts were committed in the benefit or interest of the company.  This could be considered one of the Brazilian Government’s biggest steps in its efforts to combat corruption and bribery. I believe that the North American economy would improve if this were to be implemented, as it would act as a move forward in the removal of organized crime from the economy.

Personal Experience

I do not believe that anyone should be forced to live in conditions that are sub-par (emotionally, physically, or economically) so that others can become more powerful at their expense. I have seen the effects organized crime can have on business and in your daily life first-hand throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s.  I lived in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada when Dominic Musitano was leader of the Musitano crime family (a clan of the ‘Ndrangheta crime group).  My family owned the type of business that the Mafia wanted to be a part of (a wrecking yard), so we would find ourselves under their threat when we refused to partake in illegal activities (money laundering, switching VIN’s on cars, stolen property, etc.) and we were also harassed by corrupt police officers.

One of the common problems we had was with running a tow truck. For instance, if you arrived at a crash scene officers would have already called tow trucks for companies that would pay them kick-backs or that were part of the organized crime group the cop had become under the influence of – so we would be dismissed by the police and harassed if we spoke with anyone on the crash site – citing interfering in a police investigation, holding traffic, or etc… So I found it interesting to read that in 2020 this is still a problem!

It is my belief that so long as Organized Crime remains unchecked, they will continue to increase in power and will remain a negative force on our economy, leading to our having less than satisfactory lives.  Crime groups share the same technologies as us and our economy – but they leverage each other for strength and work against us, or through us, for their wealth. I urge everyone to take this serious and stand up to this threat – before we lose to our inaction.  We are transitioning into a world where we care less about each other, family is starting to become second to work, and the media is making us less sensitive to one another.  This allows people having power and immoral intentions to have more control over us. As we become desensitized we take steps closer towards accepting a way of life that should be considered unacceptable to everyone on the planet.

You can make a difference – here are some links to Canadian officials that are willing to listen:

  • report suspicious financial transactions to: FINTRAC
  • report criminal activities, including drug deals, to: Crime Stoppers or your local police department
  • report threats to our national security: your local police department or CSIS
  • report human trafficking to: RCMP