X Close

Organised Crime Research Network

Home

A UCL-based research network on preventing and controlling organised crime

Menu

Upcoming Seminar: ‘The war on Organised Crime: The African Case’

Patricio Estevez-Soto5 December 2017

We are delighted to announce our second seminar in our Seminar Series for the 2017 – 2018 academic year: ‘The War on Organised Crime: The African case’ by Dr. Sasha Jespesrson. Join us on Wednesday December 6 2017 at 17:00 at the Teaching Room of the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science in 35 Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9EZ.

As always, there will be informal networking over drinks and nibbles after the seminar.

Speaker Profile

Dr. Sasha Jesperson

Sasha Jesperson is the Director of the Centre for the Study of Modern Slavery at St Mary’s University Twickenham. Before coming to St Mary’s, Sasha was leading research on organised crime at the Royal United Services Institute, working closely with government departments to ensure that research is useful for strengthening policymaking on organised crime. Her research background is on organised crime and particularly the role of development is preventing and responding to criminal activity.

Sasha completed her PhD at the London School of Economics. Her research examined international initiatives to address organised crime through peace building missions under the framework of the security-development nexus, comparing examples from Sierra Leone and Bosnia. Sasha also completed an MSc in Human Rights at the London School of Economics and worked for Amnesty International for three years, primarily focusing on human rights in conflict and post-conflict contexts.

Upcoming Seminar: “Migrating ‘Ndrangheta: The mobility of Italy’s most powerful mafia”

Patricio Estevez-Soto17 October 2017

 

We are happy to announce our first seminar of the 2017-2018 academic year: “Migrating ‘Ndrangheta. The mobility of Italy’s most powerful mafia” by Dr Anna Sergi. Join us on Tuesday 31st of October 2017 at 17:00 at the Teaching Room of the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science in 35 Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9EZ.

As always, there will be drinks and nibbles after the seminar.

Seminar summary

The clans of the ‘Ndrangheta, from the Southern Italian region of Calabria, have become the wealthiest and most powerful Italian mafia groups, allegedly present in over 25 countries around the world, undisputed oligarchs of the cocaine market and reliable criminal partners for other criminal groups around the world. Their presence in Europe, Canada, USA and Australia mainly has been certainly facilitated by the mass migration from Calabria in the past century while current criminal relationships are rekindled thanks to the availability of faster communication and means of travels. Moreover, the Calabrian region is exceptionally challenged in its development and in the implementation of innovation strategies, which is cause and effect of the mafia presence.

The ‘Ndrangheta clans are poly-crime criminal networks and they engage in a variety of criminal and semi-legal activities, from illegal waste dumping to online gambling, from EU fraud to the flower industry, from money laundering to renewable energies. The purpose of this talk is to present the ‘Ndrangheta clans in today’s forms, by looking at  examples from Europe, Australia, Canada, and USA specifically focusing at the way the clans exploit local economy to pursue their global criminal activities.

Speaker profile

Dr Anna Sergi

Lecturer in Criminology and Deputy Director Centre for Criminology, Department of Sociology, University of Essex, UK

Dr Anna Sergi holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Essex, UK, an LLM in Criminal Law, Criminology and Criminal Justice from King’s College, London and a specialist law degree from the University of Bologna, Italy. As a lecturer in Criminology at the University of Essex, she specialises in organised crime and mafia studies, from different perspectives, privileging comparative research approaches in policing and criminal justice methods. She has been a visiting fellow in different institutions, including New York University, Flinders University, University of Melbourne, the Australian Institute of Criminology and the University of Montreal.

Dr Sergi has published articles in international peer-reviewed journals and two books, one about the ‘Ndrangheta and the glocal dimensions of Calabrian mafia clans, and another on the policing of organised crime and mafias in Italy, UK, USA and Australia. Currently, she is working on project on mafia mobility across Europe, Canada and Australia, funded by the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust in the UK.

Review: Open Source Intelligence and Organised Crime seminar

Philip T Doherty1 February 2017

IMG_3912

On Tuesday the 24th of January, we were privileged to welcome Michael Endsor, from King’s College London, to conduct a seminar addressing the factors associated with open source intelligence and the subject of ‘Organised Crime’. Michael is a research associate of the ‘International Centre for Security Analysis’, and eluded to the abundance of information available through social media for the collection, analysis and processing of intelligence.

The boom of social media in the last decade has spread internationally, with the example of Facebook reaching 1.79 billion users at the end of 2016. Michael explained that social media can be used as a ‘database bank’ for the collection of information on various sources, and can positively enable law enforcement agencies to develop social networks within organisations. Furthermore, with the ever growing population of online users, law enforcement can use open source intelligence (OSINT) to better their understanding of the spatial mapping of the demand for illicit products, and their consequent supply chains.

The patterning of identifying criminal activity is observed differently within each of the media sites. However, similarities occur as a trending ‘hashtag’, where the user tags a post with a specific code, enabling other interested users to interact and create online networks. Popular tags include ‘#junkiesofiggg, #dope, #ilovedope, etc.’ Michael’s primary focus within the seminar was ‘Instagram’, as patterns are observable in imaging as well as text. He described the characteristics of certain images, where an individual enjoys flaunting their wealth through designer products, and large sums of cash; while others directly display the illicit product they are trying to sell.

Instagram has tried to block certain hashtags from trending and existing altogether, however this has not seen a reduction in criminal activity, as extra letters have been added to the tag in order to avoid the security protocols. The most popular form of criminal activity on social media is the distribution of drugs.

The advantage to law enforcement is the insight into names/coding of products, the packaging of certain drugs, the regions of distribution (due to geolocation tagging on images), the individuals involved in such a transaction, and the observation of proliferating online networks. Through the analysis of tags, shares and direct messaging (DM), law enforcement are able to trace products back to the distributer are consequently spark an investigation for an arrest. This can also lead to the research into open source hotspot mapping (both temporal and spatial) for specific use of illicit produce and the supply demand markets of these.

 
IMG_3923

Michael’s research paper ‘A structural Analysis of Social Media Networks: A Reference Guide for Analysts & Policymakers’ is a brilliant example of how intelligence can be gathered from public, and even private accounts, of social media.


The views expressed in this blog post are the authors own and do not necessarily represent the views of UCL, the Department of Security and Crime Science or the UCL Organised Crime Research Network.

Upcoming Seminar: Open Source Intelligence and Organised Crime

Patricio Estevez-Soto16 January 2017

We are happy to present our first seminar of 2017: Open Source Intelligence and Organised Crime by Mr Mick Endsor, from Kings College London.

The seminar will be held on Tuesday January 24, at 5 pm, in the teaching room of the Department of Security and Crime Science (35 Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9EZ). As usual we welcome all who are interested in the topic of organised crime, and the OCRN will provide refreshments for informal networking after the seminar.

Mick Endsor is a research associate at the International Centre for Security Analysis. He holds an MA with Distinction in Intelligence and International Security from King’s College London. Mick previously read History at the University of Leeds, where he obtained a First Class Honours Degree in 2012. A former intern at ICSA, Mick has also worked on secondment at the National Crime Agency where he provided open source intelligence expertise. Mick’s research interests include: open source intelligence, organised crime and intelligence-led approaches to strategy and security.

Seminar Overview:

Open source and social media intelligence offers law enforcement the opportunity to generate insights into a range of criminal activities and organised crime networks that can be integrated with other data sources to better understand organised crime threats. Analysing drug related posts on Instagram provides a case study of how social media information can provide insights into patterns of supply and demand as well as new developments in the illicit drugs market.

Review: Using technology and intelligence to fight human trafficking

uctzhid27 July 2016

by Helden De Paz Mancera * and Ana Lorena Vigil Gomez Haro**

© Patricio Estévez-Soto

© Patricio Estévez-Soto

Last 26th July 2016, the UCL Organised Crime Research Network convened a seminar entitled “Using technology and intelligence to fight human trafficking”. Our guest speakers were Dr Bill Peace, and Lovisa Ladälv from the independent charity Stop the Traffik.

Stop the Traffik (STT) has a prevention approach and focuses on building resilience communities so that they may be able to recognise human trafficking practices and report them in the best way possible, without placing themselves in a dangerous situation. SST has launched three global campaigns with the aim to raise awareness on human trafficking practices in the supply chain of the chocolate, fashion and tea industries on a global scale.

© Florian Hetzel

© Florian Hetzel

STT’s latest project is the Stop APP, which aims to empower communities to report any suspicion of human trafficking worldwide. This information, along with that gathered from different partners, is then analysed in the STT intelligence-led prevention centre and provides analytical products such as traffickers’ profiles, criminal networks, modus operandi and hotspots. By using this type of technology and intelligence, it is possible to identify where human trafficking takes place and how it looks in order to go back to the communities and further their awareness so they may be able to prevent it from happening.

© Florian Hetzel

There is evidence that human trafficking takes place in a community, through a community, and into a community. Hence, everyone can do something to prevent it. Currently, the Stop App has different partners such as IBM, Financial Times, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, amongst others who are becoming more involved in the fight against human trafficking. If you want to get the App in your mobile device please visit: http://www.stopthetraffik.org/uk/page/the-stop-app

*Helden De Paz Mancera is pursuing an MSc in Countering Organised Crime and Terrorism at the UCL Jill Dando Security and Crime Science Institute.

**Ana Lorena Vigil Gomez Haro is pursuing an MA in Intelligence & International Security at King’s College London.

The views expressed in this blog post are the authors own and do not necessarily represent the views of UCL, the Department of Security and Crime Science or the UCL Organised Crime Research Network.

Using technology and intelligence to fight human trafficking

Patricio Estevez-Soto13 July 2016

Don’t miss our next seminar: “Using technology and intelligence to fight human trafficking” with Dr Bill Peace.

Bill will talk about how the STOP APP collects information on human trafficking, which is later analysed in the intelligence-led centre.

The STOP APP empowers every person with a smart phone to take action against human trafficking. It is the first of its kind in combining community empowerment, big data management and anti-trafficking expertise to disrupt, combat and prevent this global issue.

The seminar will take place on July 26 at 5:30pm in the Teaching Room of the UCL Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science (35 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9EZ), and will be followed by a small networking reception with fellow OCRN members.

——-

Speaker’s Bio:

Bill is a security and intelligence professional of some 30 years standing. Most recently he served in the leadership of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). Prior to that he worked for the National Criminal Intelligence Service, and in various Civil Service roles embracing policy and operational aspects of defence, security, intelligence, counter-terrorism and protection.

In SOCA, he had responsibility for developing the intelligence management strategy and related capabilities. This included establishing the open source intelligence unit and overseeing information legal issues such as the operation of authorities under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act and compliance with the Data Protection Act. He led the development of approaches to intelligence exploitation through ‘big data’ analytics and data fusion, and worked on problems of corruption by organised crime.
Bill also led the UK’s national Financial Intelligence Unit, which resided in SOCA, managing a significant element of the national response to the threat from money laundering and terrorist financing, including the UK’s regime for national reporting of suspicious financial activities and transactions. In addition he held portfolios for managing strategy, international law enforcement cooperation through Interpol, and corporate risk.

Bill Holds MA and PhD degrees in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge.

Panama Papers and Organised Crime

Patricio Estevez-Soto11 July 2016

 

OCRN Seminar: Panama Papers
On Wednesday the 25th May 2016, UCL’s Organised Crime Research Network held a seminar on one of the most recent hot topics in organised crime: the Panama Papers.

The speaker, Stephen Platt, is a barrister and the author of books such as “Criminal Capital: How the Finance Industry Facilitates Crime”

As a practitioner in the field of financial crime, Stephen took the stand to speak to a packed seminar room at UCL’s Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science about the implications of the Panama Papers to financial crimes, such as those associated with organised crime.

OCRN Seminar: Panama Papers

Stephen delivered a very clear and thought-provoking talk that went beyond long-held assumptions on the nature of money laundering (such as the 3 stage model), and discussed how differences in regulatory frameworks in the worldwide financial system—in particular those that facilitate the shady practices exposed by the Panama Papers—generate a number of criminal opportunities that range from reckless risk-taking  by the financial industry to facilitating and enabling crime by third parties (such as money laundering, corruption, fraud and tax evasion).

The seminar was followed by refreshments and the opportunity to network with fellow OCRN members.