By a Biometrica staffer
The Global Organized Crime Index paints a “worrying picture of the reach, scale and impact of organized crime in 2020.” The data driven analytics tool evaluated 193 United Nations member states. The 2020 report, the first published by Global Initiative, found that a majority of people worldwide lived in countries with high levels of organized crime.
There are “widespread shortcomings in global levels of resilience to organized crime, from weaknesses in criminal justice systems to rampant corruption and violent crackdowns on the freedom of the press and civil society,” the report added.
The Global Initiative was formed in 2011-2012 after off the record discussions in New York between officials of law enforcement agencies from developing and developed countries. It is an independent civil-society organization, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
The two primary metrics the index uses are criminality and resilience to organized crime. It then assigns a rating score between one and 10 for both these metrics.
The United States was accorded a criminality score of 5.5, making it 66th of 193 countries, higher than the global score of 4.88. The human trafficking score for the US was 5.5, just below the global score of 5.58. In this, the United States was 92nd of 193 countries.
When it came to the heroin trade, the US was particularly vulnerable, and placed at No. 23 in the world with a score of 6.5, well above the global average of 3.97. The story was similar when it came to cocaine, with it pegged at 7, placed in the 22nd position, again significantly higher than the global average of 4.52.
The picture was even more grim when it came to the trade in synthetic drugs, with the US coming in at 7.5 compared to a global average of 4.62, placing it 14th out of 193 countries.
When considering mafia-style actors, too, the country is somewhat vulnerable, and was placed at the 54th position with a score of 5, in comparison to a global average of 3.89.
Criminal networks were also found to be very active in the United States with an assigned score of 6.50, above the global average of 5.45, putting the country in the 47th position worldwide.
It was also found that foreign actors had a significant presence in the US. with the country receiving a score of 5.5, putting it in the 80th place.
Despite the U. S. proving to be significantly vulnerable across so many parameters, it came in at 6.58 in terms of resilience against organized crime, placing it 28th out of 193.
The report observed that 2020 was a particularly challenging year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, as organized crime pivoted to changing scenarios.
“In the face of lockdowns and travel restrictions, criminals not only retooled their regular business, but also exploited new opportunities presented by the global health crisis,” the Index observed. “Individuals, communities and businesses struggling to stay afloat also became increasingly vulnerable to organized criminal behaviour, either as victims or as perpetrators, albeit more often than not due to the absence of any viable alternatives.”
This echoed the views of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) that had warned the pandemic had brought about new opportunities for organized crime groups (OCGs).
There’s a “parallel pandemic” of crime threats linked to Covid-19, INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock warned at the start of 2021. As INTERPOL reminded everyone on its Covid-19 safety guidelines page: “Criminals don’t take breaks. Even as everything around us is being put on hold, they are looking for new ways to generate profits.”