Table of Contents

Handbook of Transnational Environmental Crime

Handbook of Transnational Environmental Crime

Edited by Lorraine Elliott and William H. Schaedla

Crimes associated with the illegal trade in wildlife, timber and fish stocks, pollutants and waste have become increasingly transnational, organized and serious. They warrant attention because of their environmental consequences, their human toll, their impacts on the rule of law and good governance, and their links with violence, corruption and a range of crossover crimes. This ground-breaking, multi-disciplinary Handbook brings together leading scholars and practitioners to examine key sectors in transnational environmental crime and to explore its most significant conceptual, operational and enforcement challenges.

Chapter 2: Criminal networks and illicit chains of custody in transnational environmental crime

Lorraine Elliott

Subjects: environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, politics and public policy, international relations


This chapter investigates contemporary literatures about the nature and characteristics of criminal networks involved in transnational environmental crime (TEC). In this context, the purpose of the chapter is to offer some thoughts about the kinds of analytical tools that can assist in making sense of the networked dimensions of transnational environmental crime. The focus here is on logistic trails, illicit chains of custody, and networks as entrepreneurial structures for managing so-called black trade in environmental commodities and wastes. This network or chain of custody approach is a response to three trends. First it responds to claims within the relevant communities of practice that networks have become an enduring feature of the illegal transnational and global trade in wildlife, timber, wastes and pollutants. Second, it is motivated by Edwards and Gill’s (2002, p. 204, emphasis added) recommendation that ‘switching the focus of research from a . . . preoccupation with the attributes of . . . criminality to the relationships of exchange between traders [and] markets’ will make it possible to identify both ‘a continuum of licit–illicit markets and corresponding interventions directed at their regulation’. Third, it takes account of the influence of various theoretical approaches to network analysis in academic fields of endeavour as apparently disparate as criminology, global value chain analysis, and global governance. In light of these three factors, it follows that insights from network analysis, and the analysis of criminal networks in particular, could prove useful for helping us to understand how illegal chains of custody and profit function in the field of transnational environmental crime, how they are sustained and where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

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