Transit crimes in the Internet age: How new online criminal opportunities affect the organization of offline transit crimes

Lavorgna, Anita (2014) Transit crimes in the Internet age: How new online criminal opportunities affect the organization of offline transit crimes. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


There is a general consensus that the Internet has expanded possibilities for so-called transit crimes—i.e., traditional trafficking activities. However, the extent to which the Internet is exploited by offenders to carry out transit crimes and the way in which it has changed those offenders’ behaviors and the criminal processes remains under- investigated. The aim of this thesis is to understand what kind of criminal opportunities the Internet offers for conducting transit crimes and how these opportunities affect the organization of transit crimes, as concerns both the carrying out of the criminal activity and the patterns of relations in and among criminal networks. In order to achieve this goal, a model of script analysis—a way to highlight the sequence of actions that are carried out for a determinate criminal activity to occur— was developed in order to classify the criminal opportunities that the Internet supplies for selected transit crimes (wildlife trafficking, trafficking in counterfeit medicines, sex trafficking, and trafficking in recreational drugs), to identify cyber-hotspots, and to allow a richer and deeper understanding of the dynamics of Internet-mediated transit crimes. The data were collected by means of case study research and semi-structured interviews to law enforcement officers and acknowledged experts. For each criminal activity considered, through the script framework it has been possible to identify different types of criminal opportunities provided by the Internet. The empirical evidence presented demonstrates that the criminal markets considered have become—even if to a different extent—hybrid markets which combine the traditional social and economic opportunity structures with the new one provided by the Internet. Among other findings, this research indicates that not only has the Internet opened the way for new criminal actors, but it also has reconfigured relations among suppliers, intermediaries, and buyers. Furthermore, results were compared across transit crimes to illustrate whether and to what extent Internet usage impacts them differently. The differences seem to depend primarily on the social perception of the seriousness of the criminal activity, on the place it fills in the law enforcement agenda, and on the characteristics of the actors involved. This study, albeit with limitations, provides an accurate description of the Internet as crime facilitator for transit crimes. It concludes by highlighting the possibilities of environmental criminology as a theoretical framework to investigate Internet-mediated transit crimes, offering some final observations on how relevant actors behave online, and suggesting new directions for research.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:International Studies
PhD Cycle:26
Subjects:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/12 SOCIOLOGIA GIURIDICA, DELLA DEVIANZA E MUTAMENTO SOCIALE
Uncontrolled Keywords:Internet; organized crime; cybercrime; criminal networks
Repository Staff approval on:09 Apr 2014 14:28

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