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Three gangs were said in to be taking 8 to 15 percent of southern Taiwan's budget for public engineering contracts, according to press reporting. Although the organized crime problem in Taiwan is largely domestic, Taiwan-based criminal groups use the island's extensive international trade and financial links to further their illegal activities overseas.

According to world trade data, the port of Kao-hsiung handles some 5 million containers annually, the third largest volume after Singapore and Hong Kong, making it vulnerable to narcotics and contraband smuggling through Taiwan to other international destinations. Shipping and other businesses in Taiwan, some influenced by organized crime, that have established subsidiaries and partners in major commercial centers in other countries, particularly Panama and elsewhere in Latin America, are believed to be used as fronts for smuggling, illicit transactions, and money laundering.

Increasing indirect trade between China and Taiwan, and Beijing's policy of encouraging investment by Taiwan businessmen, probably is contributing to growing contacts between Taiwan and mainland Chinese criminal syndicates. Some Taiwan-based triads have links to Hong Kong and China, including establishing front companies or investing in specific criminal ventures. In , Chinese authorities discovered two Taiwanese-financed methamphetamine drug laboratories in Hunan Province.

Vote buying has provided criminals significant influence within Taiwan's political system, especially at the local level. Members of crime groups themselves seek, and often win, public office, which allows them access to lucrative public contracts and offers limited immunity from prosecution and a chance to cleanse criminal reputations. Political corruption and the ties of former ruling party politicians to organized crime continue to be potent political issues in Taiwan.

Taiwan's new President, who won election in March largely on an anticorruption, clean government platform, has pledged to make this one of his highest domestic priorities. Ethnic Chinese Criminal Networks The international criminal threat posed by ethnic Chinese criminal networks has become more complex as crime groups originating in mainland China have joined the traditional triad societies of Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan in expanding their networks far beyond China's borders.

While the powerful triads, which trace their origins to Chinese secret societies in the 17th century, are the largest of the Chinese criminal associations, they continue to operate largely according to traditional practices and their criminal activities are largely focused on more traditional extortion, gambling, drug trafficking, gunrunning, and alien smuggling enterprises. The upstart Chinese criminal groups from mainland China, on the other hand, are more loosely organized, their members more flamboyant, and their criminal operations often more sophisticated.

These groups are also extensively involved in international drug trafficking, alien smuggling, arms trafficking, and money laundering, but they have also moved more aggressively than the triads into more sophisticated and highly profitable areas of credit card fraud, theft of computer chips, software piracy, and other intellectual property violations. Both the triads and crime groups originating in mainland China have established relationships with ethnic Chinese crime groups in countries throughout the Pacific Rim, Europe, and the Western Hemisphere.

Using traditional Chinese practices of networking, ethnic Chinese crime groups rely on a broad criminal fraternity that can broker contacts in any country where there is a large ethnic Chinese community and help facilitate transnational criminal activity. Chinese organized crime has strong roots in Chinese ethnic enclaves around the world.

Local Chinese crime groups--ranging from street gangs to more formally structured groups modeled after, or affiliated with, traditional triads--typically are extensively involved in local rackets like gambling, loan sharking, narcotics distribution, prostitution, and business extortion. While they are closed and secretive to outsiders, Chinese criminal organizations generally have few qualms about cooperating with other ethnic criminal groups in profitable joint ventures.

For example, in the United States, Canada, and Europe, Chinese organized crime groups have worked with Italian and Dominican criminal organizations in trafficking heroin. Europe and North America are major targets for Chinese criminal networks. Although ethnic Chinese groups are not as powerful as Italian or Russian organized crime in Europe, they have long-established footholds in the Chinese communities of several European nations from which they appear to conduct most of their illegal operations.

International Chinese organized crime groups are particularly strong in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Since the late s, Chinese criminal organizations have also established themselves in Central Europe, which has become a major conduit for moving illegal Chinese immigrants to Western Europe. Worldwide Triad Activity, Triads Versus Mainland Chinese Criminal Groups Most triad societies are based in Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Macau, but their influence spans international boundaries with members located in virtually every country that has a sizable Chinese community.

Triads, which collectively have an estimated worldwide membership that exceeds ,, are fluid associations of ethnic Chinese criminals and quasi-legitimate businessmen involved in an array of criminal enterprises. Most Hong Kong triads have evolved into loose-knit groups operating and cooperating with each other on the basis of personal introductions and mutual interests.

Triad leaders do not dictate to members what criminal activities they should pursue and generally do not receive monetary benefits unless they are directly involved with the actual criminal enterprise. Hong Kong police estimate there are 50 to 60 different triad societies operating in Hong Kong. Currently, Hong Kong's largest triad, Sun Yee On, is the only one with a true hierarchical structure.

By contrast, the 14K triad, still one of the most powerful, is comprised of more than 15 loosely affiliated groups. In addition to their traditional criminal enterprises, Hong Kong triads have diversified more into sophisticated white-collar crimes. Recent Hong Kong government figures suggest increased triad involvement in high-tech computer crimes and criminal activities such as possible manipulation of the stock and futures markets.

Using connections in mainland China and taking advantage of the different legal systems in Hong Kong and the Guangdong region of southern China, the Hong Kong triads have also increased their cross-border criminal activities. The major triads like 14K and Sun Yee On, both based in Hong Kong, and the United Bamboo Gang, based in Taiwan, have autonomous branches extending worldwide that help to facilitate transnational criminal activities.

In the s, Hong Kong triads strengthened their presence and relationships in Western countries, including by making various investments in legitimate businesses, as a hedge against the political, economic, and law enforcement uncertainties of Hong Kong's reversion to China in The 14K reportedly is the fastest growing triad in Canada. It is not unusual for different triad groups, both in Hong Kong and abroad, to work together where there is a specific opportunity for mutual profit. Hong Kong police, however, maintain that there is no international triad network or centralized control over cross-border activities, such as drug trafficking or alien smuggling, between mainland China and Hong Kong.

Most cooperation in such criminal enterprises is more ad hoc collusion, according to Hong Kong authorities. Criminal groups from mainland China, typified by the Big Circle Gang and the Fuk Ching Gang, have cells operating in countries around the world that cooperate with one another on an ad hoc basis to conduct far-reaching criminal schemes. These criminal cells typically operate autonomously with no known central authority controlling them.

Cell leaders use their extensive connections to organize often very complex criminal operations that require a high degree of organization and planning. The coordinated efforts of members in various countries enable them to carry out international drug trafficking, arms trafficking, alien smuggling operations, as well as a variety of more sophisticated financial fraud crimes. US and Canadian law enforcement reporting indicates the Big Circle Gang, which is the dominant organized crime group in China, has in a short time become one of the most active Asian criminal organizations in the world.

By the early s, the Big Circle Gang had established criminal cells in Canada, the United States, and Europe, It is extensively involved in drug trafficking, alien smuggling, vehicle theft and trafficking, and various financial, intellectual property rights, and high-tech crimes. Big Circle Gang cells are also highly sophisticated in their use of technology to thwart law enforcement investigations, according to US law enforcement.

Chinese Criminal Threat to the United States The United States faces a growing threat from Chinese organized crime groups that are using Canada as a base from which to conduct criminal activities that impact our country. Members of ethnic Chinese criminal groups from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau have exploited Ottawa's immigration policies and entrepreneur program to enter the country and become Canadian residents, which makes it easier for them to cross into the United States.

Canada has become a gateway for Chinese criminal activity directed at the United States, particularly heroin trafficking, credit card fraud, and software piracy. The two largest Hong Kong triads, 14K and Sun Yee On, increased their presence and made substantial property investments in Canada during the s.

Sun Yee On members are involved in trafficking heroin and methamphetamine, as well as alien smuggling, to the United States, where the triad has ties to New York's Tung On Gang. The Big Circle Gang is responsible for importing much of the Southeast Asian heroin entering Canada--much of which is then smuggled into the United States--and the source for many of the counterfeit credit cards used in North America. Japan Over the years, Japanese crime syndicates, known as yakuza, have exploited their traditional roles in arbitrating disputes and loan collection to gain a wide measure of public acceptance.

The yakuza's practice of "sokaiya," corporate extortion, often by threatening to disrupt corporate shareholders meetings, has been generally tolerated by Japanese society, despite the economic influence it has given organized crime. Their role in local communities has sometimes placed the yakuza in a better position than the government to respond to civic emergencies, such as when they responded more quickly and efficiently than the Japanese Government in bringing relief aid to victims of the earthquake in Kobe.

The yakuza have also benefitted from historically weak anti-crime legislation and limited law enforcement investigative authority. By adhering to rules of conduct that preclude violence against the police and innocent civilians, Japanese crime syndicates traditionally have been able to operate largely in the open, including highlighting the location of their headquarters in local communities.

The yakuza were able to cash in on Japan's economic and real estate boom in the s to expand their profit-making activities beyond their traditional criminal arenas of drugs, gambling, prostitution, and corporate extortion. Housing loan companies, jusen, that were affiliated with major Japanese banks reportedly issued a portion of their loans, many of which were not repaid, to yakuza-tied firms as part of the speculative boom in real estate in the s.

As a result, the yakuza were behind many of the problem loans leading to the collapse of the jusen mortgage industry. In some cases, the yakuza sought to block the disposal of real estate assets that underlie the bad loans. Although information is limited, press accounts indicate it is very likely that the yakuza have links to Japanese Government officials and have influenced some government decisions. Few of these incidents are widely publicized.

In November , however, yakuza connections to sokaiya scandals involving major Japanese banks and similar related allegations against members of the powerful Finance Ministry were widely reported in the Japanese media. Despite the longstanding tradition of tolerance for the yakuza, the Japanese have become less accepting of organized crime activities in recent years, primarily because of public concerns about increasing street crime and drug abuse, rather than the yakuza role in the financial crisis and banking scandals.

Despite the yakuza, ethnic Chinese criminal gangs linked to illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and arms trafficking are publicly perceived as the most serious criminal threats to Japan. Japanese Yakuza Taken as a whole, the yakuza are among the world's largest and most powerful criminal confederations.

The yakuza are highly structured and criminally diverse organizations that have thoroughly penetrated Japanese society, including the legitimate economic sphere, through their extortion-like practice of "sokaiya. According to Japan's National Police Agency, 60 percent of the estimated 90, members and associates of yakuza families are affiliated with one of three groups: the Yamaguchi-Gumi, Sumiyoshi-Kai, and Inagawa-Kai.

These groups control most organized criminal activity in Japan, including gun trafficking, drug smuggling, alien smuggling, prostitution, illegal gambling, extortion, and white-collar crime through infiltration of legitimate businesses. While most of their criminal operations are in Japan, yakuza groups have established a presence throughout Asia, Australia, and the Western Hemisphere.

The yakuza have used their international networks primarily to acquire narcotics, guns, or illegal immigrants-- particularly women for prostitution--for the Japanese market. Yakuza groups acquire most of their heroin and methamphetamine from Chinese criminal groups in Taiwan and Hong Kong and may have established relationships with South American trafficking organizations for obtaining cocaine.

China, Taiwan, and Russia are major sources of firearms for the yakuza; Japanese police officials have estimated that 90 percent of the illegal weapons seized each year come from overseas because of Japan's strict gun control laws. The yakuza also rely on their international connections for illegal aliens to work in the prostitution, entertainment, and construction enterprises they control in Japan.

The Yamaguchi-Gumi group, which includes affiliated gangs throughout Japan, runs extensive prostitution rings that prey on women from Latin America, Russia, and Southeast Asia. Some of the Chinese migrants smuggled into Japan continue on to the United States, but there is only fragmentary evidence indicating that yakuza groups are directly involved in smuggling illegal aliens into this country.

Although most yakuza criminal relationships overseas are used to facilitate their own criminal activities, some yakuza families are establishing more longterm alliances with other international crime organizations. The Russian connection appears to be particularly important to yakuza groups; in the Japanese press reported that the head of the Yamaguchi-Gumi had announced his intention to establish working relationships with the Russian mafia.

Russia has become a major source of firearms and prostitutes, and a growing source of drugs, for the Japanese yakuza. The establishment of regular flights between major Japanese and Russian cities and relaxed travel restrictions are likely to facilitate long-term ties between Russian and Japanese crime groups. North Korea's Role in International Drug Trafficking A large share of the methamphetamine consumed in Japan comes from North Korea, according to media reports; more than 40 percent of the methamphetamine seized in Japan in came from North Korea.

There have been regular reports from many official and unofficial sources that impoverished North Korea has engaged in drug trafficking--mostly to Japan, Russia, and China--as a criminal state enterprise to raise badly needed revenue. Over the years, customs and police officials of many countries have apprehended North Korean persons employed as diplomats or in quasi-official capacities at North Korean state trading companies trying to smuggle drugs produced elsewhere.

Yakuza Threat to the United States One of the most significant threats posed by Japanese organized crime groups is their investment in legitimate businesses in foreign countries to launder proceeds from their criminal operations in Japan. The yakuza reportedly have invested heavily in US and Canadian real estate, ranging from golf courses to hotels. By playing the stock market, yakuza groups have also laundered criminal proceeds through US financial institutions, according to US law enforcement.

Japanese criminal activity in the United States has primarily involved fraud and money-laundering activity. The Inagawa-Kai yakuza crime group, which is involved in drug and arms trafficking, extortion, investment frauds, and money laundering, has invested heavily in Hawaii and the states on the west coast of the United States.

Africa Porous borders, ample routes for smuggling drugs, weapons, explosives, and other contraband, and corruptible police and security forces make Sub-Saharan Africa an inviting operational environment for international criminals, drug traffickers, and terrorists. Major Sub-Saharan cities with extensive commercial, financial, and sea and air transportation links to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia are hubs for international criminal activity, particularly by Nigerian criminal syndicates.

Nigeria Nigeria is at the center of international criminal activity coming from Africa. With Nigeria an historical trading crossroads both in Africa and along maritime routes between East and West, the international criminal operations of Nigerian syndicates are the legacy of a history of moving capital and commodities on a global scale.

Nigerian criminal syndicates centered in Lagos, many of which have global networks, operate with virtual impunity in an environment of pervasive corruption. Decades of mostly military rule in Nigeria have exacerbated the problem, ruining the Nigerian economy and nearly bankrupting the Nigerian Government. Moreover, decades of gross economic mismanagement, with which the newly elected civilian government has just begun to grapple, have left not only private citizens but also government and law enforcement officials and junior and noncommissioned military officers with great incentive to engage in criminal activity to make ends meet.

Under the recent military regime, many of Nigeria's political and military leaders, government bureaucrats, and business elites routinely accepted and demanded bribes or kickbacks in return for facilitating profitable business activity-- whether in the lucrative oil sector, competitive procurement contracts, or the drug trade.

Corruption and resource constraints have made meaningful law enforcement investigations and prosecutions against the crime barons very difficult in Nigeria. Corruption extends to all levels of the military, which has dominated politics in Nigeria for most years since independence.

Likewise, civilian politicians and bureaucrats have engaged in massive corruption, whether during periods of civilian or military rule. Nigerian sea and airports are rife with corruption, and borders are porous to criminals, terrorists, and illegal migrants.

The decades-long history of corruption and mismanaged exchange rates has also benefited the money-laundering activities of Nigerian criminal syndicates. Past Nigerian regimes have typically tried to cast the drug trafficking and financial frauds committed by Nigerian criminal syndicates as victimless crimes that are driven by demand in Western countries.

Anticorruption campaigns mounted by military and civilian governments alike have yet to alter the culture of corruption in Nigeria. Nevertheless, some Nigerian elites, including in the military, have come to recognize that pervasive crime and corruption in Nigeria have crippled the economy, contributed to social and political tensions, and undermined relations with major historical trading partners, including the United States and West European countries.

Widespread fraud has caused Nigeria to lose billions of dollars in business and foreign investment, according to press reporting. These factors have caused many Nigerian elites to advocate a crack down on corrupt officials and criminal activity, and the new civilian government seems much more inclined to take up this challenge. Nigeria's President Obasanjo, elected in the aftermath of a highly corrupt military regime, has pledged institutional reforms to cut down on pervasive corruption and to crack down on criminal activity, particularly drug trafficking.

The country's history of widespread corruption, however, and the influence of powerful crime barons make effective follow-through on these promises highly problematic. South Africa As a major locus of maritime trade and air traffic between Asia, Europe, and the Western Hemisphere, South Africa is emerging as a significant hub of international criminal activity.

The lifting of international trade sanctions with the end of apartheid has made South Africa readily accessible to international criminals whose operations take place within the framework of legitimate commercial business activities. South Africa's modern airports and harbors--including container ports at Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, and East London--are attractive to criminals smuggling narcotics and other contraband.

South Africa's well-developed business connections to the West and political connections to some states of concern can be used by criminals to broker illicit transactions involving arms, controlled technologies, or strategic commodities. For criminal organizations, South Africa also has the advantage of a modern financial system linked to financial markets worldwide, which facilitates money laundering. And, as happened in Russia, criminal organizations recruit professionals with skills well-suited to competing in the modern business environment who were pushed aside or sidelined by the political and economic changes taking place in South Africa.

Major Nigerian Drug Trafficking Routes With the increase in international travel and business since the apartheid government turned over power in , the scope of organized crime in South Africa has evolved from generally small-scale operations centered in localities to nationwide syndicates. South African police officials have identified almost organized crime groups operating throughout the country, with at least 32 having international connections, according to press reports in Almost half of the groups were reported to be primarily involved in drug trafficking, and approximately 60 groups were associated with financial crimes.

Foreign organized crime groups, primarily Nigerian, Russian, and Chinese syndicates, have established bases of operations in South Africa since the mids for a variety of illegal activity, including drug trafficking and other contraband smuggling, poaching and trafficking in endangered species, money laundering, and financial crimes. The international drug trade has become a particularly serious problem for South Africa.

Nigerian traffickers are finding South African air and seaports to be attractive gateways for transshipping both cocaine and heroin into the West European market. South Africa's growing role in the international drug trade has increased its domestic addiction problem, especially for cocaine, which Nigerian traffickers have made widely available at low prices.

South African authorities are most alarmed by the presence and activities of Nigerian, Indian, and Russian criminal organizations. They are becoming concerned by growing numbers of Chinese triad criminal groups operating in South Africa. Nigerian criminal groups have established cells in expatriate communities in South Africa's major commercial centers, while Indian criminal organizations operate within the country's substantial South Asian population.

Russian criminals have exploited legitimate business opportunities in South Africa to launder money and reportedly engage in money laundering, arms smuggling, automobile theft rings, and illicit strategic commodities transactions, including in gold and other minerals.

The dramatic increase in criminal activity in South Africa initially caught the government unprepared. Violent crime and drug abuse have grown substantially since the early s. In late , South African police estimated that there were between 5 and 8 million illegal firearms in the country. Efforts to confront organized crime are undermined by widespread corruption in the police and the lack of tough laws.

This environment has contributed to the rise of ethnic-based vigilante gangs, particularly among the Muslim minority, that have taken the law into their own hands. Alarmed by these developments, the South African Government has begun taking measures to improve its anticrime legislation and enforcement capabilities. East Africa Having a long tradition of contraband smuggling, the countries along Africa's Indian Ocean coast are emerging as significant transit points for international drug traffickers, particularly in the Southwest Asian heroin trade.

The large volume of cargo handled by major East African seaports in Mombasa, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, probably hides substantial amounts of contraband trade, including drugs, coming from the Middle East, Pakistan, India, and Southeast Asia. In addition, Nairobi and Addis Ababa are major international air hubs in the region. An increasing amount of Southwest Asian heroin is appearing in Kenya, some reportedly en route to Chicago and New York.

Trade and customs agreements among the East African countries are probably widely exploited by international criminals and traffickers, including to move drugs and contraband into southern Africa. This route is used by South Asian criminal organizations smuggling methaqualone, also known as mandrax, produced primarily in India to the lucrative South African market.

The terrorists who bombed the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in took advantage of lax border controls in the region and immigration procedures to move materials and personnel into place. Sudan remains a safehaven for terrorist groups. As countries along the traditional routes used for trafficking Southwest Asian hashish and heroin have given more emphasis to drug interdiction, East Africa has become more attractive as a transshipment point not only because of its international transportation and commercial connections to the rest of the world but also because of lax law enforcement capabilities.

Preoccupied with regional crises and substantial domestic problems, including high local crime rates, East African governments so far have not given priority to targeting international criminal activity, and they lack the resources to do so effectively. In addition, international criminals and drug traffickers routinely bribe customs and law officials to ignore contraband trade. Allegations of official complicity in drug trafficking through Kenya have increased in the last year, given impetus by a multi-ton seizure of hashish in Mombasa in January Members of parliament and high-ranking police and administrative officials have been linked to facilitating or protecting that shipment.

Nigerian Criminal Enterprises Worldwide, there are hundreds of Nigerian criminal cells located primarily in major metropolitan centers in North America, Europe, and Asia. Recent estimates suggest that more than Nigerian crime cells are operating in at least 80 countries. Nigerian criminals take advantage of large West African ethnic communities in these cities to establish the infrastructure needed to support a wide range of criminal activity-- foremost among them drug trafficking and sophisticated schemes to defraud individuals, businesses, and governments--which reap billions of dollars in illicit proceeds.

Nigerian crime groups also facilitate illegal immigration of Nigerian nationals to metropolitan areas around the world, whom they then use for filling high-risk, low-level roles in drug trafficking, and are involved in trafficking women and children to Europe, especially Italy. The United States and Britain are the primary targets of Nigerian criminal activity, with Nigerian crime cells elsewhere in the world purchasing drugs or providing financial and logistical support.

Between 25 and 30 percent of the heroin seized at US international airports in recent years was taken from couriers employed by Nigerian trafficking groups, according to US Customs data. While a large number of Nigerian criminal groups operating overseas appear to be small and autonomous, many others belong to large criminal syndicates based in Nigeria.

The smaller groups frequently pool resources and are able to tap into highly fluid networks in countries around the world to facilitate their criminal operations. Many Nigerian crime groups in countries around the world appear to be compartmented cells of larger syndicates controlled by crime barons based primarily in Lagos. The barons, some of whom have substantial economic and political clout in Nigeria, oversee the day-to-day operations of a network of crime cells deployed worldwide to undertake or support a wide range of criminal activities.

Drug Trafficking Nigerian criminal syndicates are among the world's most active traffickers in Asian heroin--particularly to the United States--and are increasingly trafficking South American cocaine to various regions in Africa and throughout Europe. Producing no heroin of their own, Nigerian traffickers have well-established networks in Southeast and Southwest Asian countries to acquire the drug.

The steady and virtually uninterrupted flow of Nigerian-controlled heroin from these source regions is facilitated by criminal cells in transit countries along the way. Nigerian traffickers typically smuggle only small quantities of drugs, using both express mail services and thousands of individual couriers in an effort to overwhelm market country customs and law enforcement capabilities and to lessen the cost of any seizures. They tend to avoid sending drug couriers on direct flights from drug-producing and key transit countries to market countries, relying instead on a widely diverse number of routes transiting airports throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Using techniques and concealment methods similar to those used to smuggle heroin from Asia, Nigerian criminal syndicates dominate transatlantic cocaine shipments between Brazil and Africa, from where the drug is transshipped to markets in South Africa and Europe. In planning their drug courier runs, Nigerian traffickers make careful study of customs and security procedures in producer, transit, and market country air and sea ports. They readily adapt to international law enforcement measures against them.

Nigerian traffickers, for example, are now recruiting "low profile" couriers who are less likely to draw the attention of international customs agents. These include Caucasians, women often with children , and the elderly. To avoid scrutiny at US international airports, Nigerian traffickers sometimes deliver drugs to Canada or Mexico for overland transshipment into the United States. Financial Fraud Schemes In addition to their significant role in narcotics smuggling, Nigerian criminal syndicates are involved in a wide variety of financial fraud schemes that target private citizens as well as businesses, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The most notorious of these are advance fee scams, in which thousands of unsolicited letters and faxes based on fraudulent representation are sent by Nigerian criminals to businessmen worldwide with the promise of great profits at the cost of upfront cash investment. The letters and faxes set forth simple investment schemes, promises of "easy money," elaborate assurances, and extraordinarily low risk. They provide detailed instructions for establishing linked bank accounts and exchange of authorization letters and account numbers to give the appearance of legitimacy, then require various transaction fees before any moneys can be released.

Victims of Nigerian fraud schemes may be strung along for months or years paying transactions fees and taxes before realizing they are being conned. In , US victims reported several hundred million dollars of losses to Nigerian advance fee frauds, according to US law enforcement.

These figures do not include losses to victims from outside the United States. In addition, many people do not report being victimized by advance fee fraud schemes because of fear or embarrassment. Nigerian criminal cells worldwide also specialize in sophisticated schemes targeting banks and financial institutions through credit card and check fraud, student loan and mortgage frauds; insurance companies through fraudulent claims for automobile accidents, personal injuries, and life insurance; and government entitlement programs through false or appropriated identifications and theft from legitimate recipients.

Illicit funds raised through financial fraud schemes are often used to capitalize narcotics trafficking. The penetration of government bureaucracies in many countries has enabled local Nigerian cells to defraud government entitlement programs. South America As the exclusive source of cocaine for the world market, South America is a primary locus of the international drug trade. Colombian traffickers are responsible for producing most of the world supply of finished cocaine, and they have established drug-trafficking networks throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Analysis of cocaine flows data from US detection and monitoring assets and data on cocaine use elsewhere in the world show that most of the cocaine produced in Colombia is for the US market. Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador are the primary staging areas for drug exports destined for the United States. In the last decade, however, international criminal activities linked to South America have expanded beyond the drug trade and become more multifaceted.

The continent's increased commercial and transportation links to Europe and Africa, as well as to the Caribbean basin and the United States, have attracted an increased presence of foreign criminal organizations. Greater regional economic integration has helped South America emerge as a significant source of counterfeit products for the international market.

Money launderers are exploiting the region's weak enforcement against illicit transactions to move and shelter criminal proceeds. The power and influence of criminal organizations have eroded good governance, diverted attention and resources away from more pressing political and security problems, and skewed the economies of many South American countries.

Throughout the region, the activities of local criminal mafias have become a significant political, as well as law enforcement, concern. Crime groups in many countries have suborned local police officers and other public officials to safeguard their illegal activities. Colombia The drug trade in Colombia has helped fuel decades of violence, corruption, political strife, and, particularly in recent years, insurgency. Colombian drug profits since the s have bought power and influence at the highest levels of the government, judiciary, and financial institutions.

Government leaders have faced daunting obstacles, including bribes, threats, violence, and other tactics, as they to control drug-trafficking operations. The level of violence and narco-terrorism reached its apex in the late s and early s when countless police were killed by traffickers, a major presidential candidate was assassinated, the headquarters of Colombia's lead investigative agency was destroyed in a high-casualty bombing, and an airliner was destroyed in flight.

In , trafficker financial support may have been influential in the victory of President Samper in a close election. Bogota's antidrug efforts since the mids--including arrests of key traffickers, increased interdiction, and recent extradition of three traffickers to face drug-trafficking charges in the United States--have reduced much of the overt influence exercised by powerful trafficking organizations, but Colombian traffickers have adapted to stay atop the worldwide cocaine trade.

The dramatic increase in coca cultivation in Colombia--from less than 20 percent of the Andean total in to 67 percent in is the primary catalyst of the current crisis. The United States is committed to substantial support for Plan Colombia, Bogota's response to the crisis developed in close collaboration with Washington. Central to Plan Colombia's success will be crippling the drug trade by substantially reducing coca cultivation and the processing and movement of cocaine and heroin within three years.

Of particular significance in Colombia's current crisis, surging drug production is providing substantial resources to insurgent and paramilitary groups that threaten the country's stability. Promoting and protecting coca cultivation in the areas it controls, the FARC has emerged as a major player in the drug trade throughout Colombia, particularly in the south where cultivation increases have been the greatest.

The substantial revenues raised by the FARC through its involvement in the drug trade have increased the ability of the insurgents to operate freely throughout the country and to finance growing numbers of armed combatants. US Government analysts estimate that the FARC could potentially earn nearly half of its total revenues from taxing the drug trade. Other illicit activities, which include kidnappings, robberies, and other crimes, account for most of the rest. Meanwhile, paramilitary involvement in drug trafficking is also increasing.

The leader of the most notorious paramilitary group stated publicly that 70 percent of his budget comes from the drug trade. Andean Coca Cultivation, Along with guerrilla attacks against economic targets, the drug trade has been a major factor in Colombia's economic difficulties. The black-market peso exchange used extensively by Colombian traffickers, through which drug proceeds in the United States are exchanged for trade goods that are smuggled into Colombia, has caused the contraband import industry to capture more than 25 percent of the country's retail market.

Colombia's imports from Panama, whose robust financial and commercial sectors make it an outlet in the black-market peso exchange, are now dominated by contraband. Colombian money transmitters have adapted to disruptions caused by successful enforcement operations--such as the Operation Casablanca, which targeted the Mexican financial system--and to US regulatory efforts, such as the Geographic Targeting Order in New York, to continue laundering drug proceeds through the black-market peso exchange.

Colombia is also the world leader in the production of counterfeit US currency. Ongoing investigations in Colombia indicate that drug trafficking and counterfeiting are linked; the same courier networks are often used for trafficking drugs and counterfeit US dollars. With more than systems installed in federal, state, and local government facilities, as well as educational institutions and corporate Category: Video Conferencing 7 e2c Rosyth, Scotland, United Kingdom e2c provide a range of solutions which allow gaming machine manufacturers to design and build high performance solutions for both video based and mechanical reel based machines.

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