Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/381781
12 Proceedings Fall 2014 www.uscg.mil/proceedings Such actions further limit U.S. infuence on emerging mar- kets, commerce, and transportation. So, the infuence of criminal organizations threatens to disrupt U.S. access to natural resources from the region. Furthermore, it threat- ens to undermine regional transportation networks, upon which maritime trade and commerce relies. Converging Threats Other regional and transnational threat actors collaborate with criminal networks to expand the unlawful trade in drugs, other goods, and people. By expanding their net- works to include international drug traffcking organiza- tions, human smugglers, insurgents, and international terrorists, criminal organizations further undermine con- stitutional governments in the region. For example, drug trafficking organizations from the Western Hemisphere are forming business partnerships with criminal networks in West Africa to ship cocaine to Western Europe and the Middle East. 2 As regional and transnational threat networks converge, they challenge the ability of local governments to provide stability. Notably, regional and transnational threats, such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia and Hez- bollah, continue to expand their involvement in the inter- national drug trade to fund insurgent and terrorist activi- ties targeting local government organizations and offcials. 3 Unstable societies enable international terrorist groups to conceal their activities, as they prepare to use converged networks to transport people and weapons to attack the U.S. Smuggling The convergence of criminal networks presents a signif- icant threat to the United States and its neighbors in the Western Hemisphere. These networks operate sophisticated smuggling enterprises that are capable of forging off- cial documents, bribing and intimidating government offcials, and subverting border controls. By penetrating existing transportation infrastruc- tures, they move criminals, fugitives, terrorists, traf- fcking victims, economic migrants, as well as drugs, arms, counterfeit products, and other illicit goods. Each year in the Western Hemisphere, human smug- gling alone generates more than $6.6 billion in rev- enue. 4 Criminal networks use this revenue to solidify, diversify, and expand their spheres of infuence. The Internet As criminal networks expand to the Internet, they drive black markets for all types of malware and sto- len information. They operate anonymously, using extortion, fraud, and identity theft to create new revenue streams. In addition, criminal organizations use informa- tion technologies to plan, fnance, and coordinate activi- ties. These actions disrupt economic activity and undermine people's confdence in legitimate commercial and social net- works. Enabling Through Subterfuge Criminal networks also operate "front" companies to invest in maritime transportation, trade, and commerce. Aided by dishonest professionals, including accountants, bankers, real estate brokers, fnanciers, and attorneys, criminal net- works engage in commercial transactions to launder money, forge documents, and transport people and goods. These clandestine relationships enable criminal networks to remain hidden. In addition, they enable criminal networks to thrive and expand, further influencing the economic development of Western Hemisphere societies. Committing Resources to Combat Transnational Organized Crime The 2011 Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime commits all instruments of national power to neu- tralize transnational criminal networks, their accomplices, and collaborators. The strategy establishes fve objectives: ➤ Federal agencies will work together to protect the people of the Western Hemisphere from violence and exploita- tion. ➤ Offcials will enable partner nations to build stronger governments, capable of fghting corrupt criminal infu- ences. ➤ Federal agencies will prevent criminal networks from penetrating strategic markets and fnancial systems. ➤ Agencies will target the infrastructures that the most dangerous criminal organizations use to carry out U.S. Coast Guard crews from the San Diego area intercept a suspected drug smuggling boat and crew in international waters off the coast of Baja California. The suspects were turned over to Mexican authorities for prosecution. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Offcer Henry Dunphy.