The Beat
12 Mar 2015|
Wildlife trafficking

AUSTRAC Typologies of Crime report

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has published their annual typologies of crime and case studies report. It makes for interesting reading, both in terms of how people actually launder money, and for the prison sentences they receive for doing so. The case studies cover a range of examples with Australia and the Asia–Pacific; not surprisingly, there are plenty of examples of the increasing harms caused by cybercrime.

Mums, dads and bitcoins

The Australian Crime Commission has reminded us that it’s not only organised criminal networks and outlaw motorcycle gangs who are using virtual cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. ACC’s national manager of intelligence John Moss told a Senate inquiry last week that everyday Australians used increasing amounts of virtual currencies to purchase illicit drugs and other illegal materials online.

Cryptocurrencies and the online drug trade are two factors which have contributed to an increase in the amount of drugs purchased in Australia. The ACC’s Illicit Drug Data Report 2012–2013 revealed 86,918 seizures of illicit drug seizures, a 66% increase on the previous decade, with a significant amount of these drugs arriving by post.

Wildlife crime

The President of the United Nations General Assembly used World Wildlife Day to call for international cooperation to counter wildlife trafficking, poaching and the illegal trade of animals. Sam Kutesa, who is also the former Ugandan Foreign Minister, called for initiatives including improved intelligence sharing and the strengthening of global, regional and national enforcement. Kutesa cited concerns that the illegal wildlife trade attracted organised criminal networks, as well as rebel and terrorist groups. His comments were reinforced by the International Fund for Animal Welfare that estimates the illegal wildlife industry to be worth US$19 billion per year. The group also expressed concern about links between illicit wildlife trade and terrorism. As we’ve discussed previously, it’s important to counter different kinds of organised crime to prevent the profits used to fund terrorism.

Boston bombing trial: admission of guilt?

The trial of Boston bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev began last week, with defence attorney Judith Clarke telling the court, ‘it was him.’ This wouldn’t be so bizarre if Tsarnaev hadn’t entered a plea of not guilty.However, some argue that this’s a strategy to save Tsarnaev from the death penalty by emphasising how much influence his older brother, now deceased, exerted over him in the planning and execution of the attack. It’s also possible that a plea deal might be sought later in the trial, which is expected to last around four months.

Offbeat: German intelligence ‘tapping’ scandal

And finally, Australia isn’t the only country have suffered an embarrassing leak concerning their intelligence facilities. The new Berlin HQ of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German intelligence service, was compromised when thieves broke into the top levels of the mostly unoccupied building and stole taps from the bathrooms, resulting in floods which destroyed doors, electrical wires and safety features. Looks like Germany might be in for a Flood Report of its own.

Clare Murphy is an intern working within ASPI’s Strategic Policing and Law Enforcement Program. Image courtesy of Flickr user Rob Young.