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Transnational Crime in Taiwan

Transnational Crime in Taiwan


Globalization promoted the movement of people, goods, services, and images across borders. However, it also created new opportunities for the occurrence of crime. Globalization is touted to have made crime a transnational problem unlike how it previously was as a local challenge. The United Nations lists 18 types of transnational organized crimes. The crimes include money laundering, terrorist activities, cultural goods, and art theft, theft of intellectual property rights, illegal arms smuggling, hijacking, piracy, insurance fraud, cybercrime, environmental crime, Human organ trade, illicit drug trafficking, bankruptcy fraud, infiltration of legitimate business organizations, corruption and bribery of public or political party officials, and other crimes committed by organized criminal groups. The effects of transnational organized crimes involve more than one country. A few persons perpetrate transnational crimes. However, the activities related to “transnational organized crime” are the emphasis of transnational crime.

The emergence of non-traditional security threats coupled with the raging activities of international terrorist organizations has forced countries to enter into cooperation to help build a common mechanism, for combating crime. The international community pursues the inevitable trend of comprehensive security. Besides, the community understands that the source of national security threats is no longer confined to the adversary’s military activities. Conversely, threats of national security are aligned to domestic and foreign factors that have the capacities to subvert national interests. Notably, the combination of terrorism, drugs, and money laundering not only affects the development of the national economy, the stability of social order, and the safety of people’s lives. Rather, the threats have an impact on the extent to which a threat expanded or deepened. To this effect, it gives a viable idea regarding the approach that an adversary may use to subvert the security interests of the society. Lack of effective control may compromise the safety of the nationals of the country. Thus, it is imperative that the relevant security stakeholders identify ideal mechanisms for addressing the security concerns of the country.

Taiwan gangs swam across China, Taiwan, and the U.S. The objective of their integration was to expand and combine forces for them to be more powerful. It was identified that creating a consensus of mutual legal assistance and laying a common form of cooperation against crime in Taiwan, China, and the U.S would help curb transnational crimes. Smuggling of drugs, firearms, and human trafficking not only affects the fiscal revenue and economic development of the three countries. Contrariwise, smuggling sabotages the region’s social order. Creating an institutional mechanism to fight the crimes would play a fundamental role in ensuring the wellbeing of the people.

Taiwan passed the Trafficking Prevention Act on January 23, 2009. The core concept of the Act includes the prevention and control of human trafficking. The program is commonly referred to as the 3P” (prevention, protection, prosecution). Prevention is considered as the most critical function of the Act than the latter two. Prevention measures play an influential role in ensuring that human trafficking is curbed. For instance, illegal immigration is no longer considered a significant threat to the security. Countries concerned were forced to implement relevant policies governing the movement of refugees into their countries. For instance, the use of biometric identification has played a key role in the process of identifying refugees moving in and out of the countries. Biometric identification relies on unique identity features such as fingerprints, face, iris, and other biological features to establish a database. If the features do not match those in the database, the individual would be blocked from crossing the border.  However, Taiwan enjoys the benefit of not having direct geopolitical threats. Nonetheless, terrorism and human trafficking share some attributes of transnational flows that may also affect Taiwan. Additionally, the country may be facilitating international crime by being a central point for the disbursement of funds. For instance, foreign workers in Taiwan may be a source of financing that facilitates transnational crimes.

Potential National Concerns

The United Nations passed an act, the “Convention for the Suppression of Human Trafficking and the Exploitation of Prostitution and Others” In 1949. In January 2000, the “UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons” was signed. The “Palermo Agreement” which was opened by the Member States and entered into force in 2003 also came into being. The U.S. instructed the State Council to submit annual human trafficking reports in agreement with the Law on the Protection of Human Trafficking of Persons (2000) and the Protection of Human Trafficking in Victims (2003). The U.S. American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) files an implementation report on Taiwan every year to assess the effectiveness of the policy of Taiwan. The effects of the cooperation are that Taiwan-US relations have significantly been strengthened.

The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime provides a definition of human trafficking. It provides a protocol on identifying what is human trafficking. However, the convention lacks a framework for the regular and continuous data collection on trafficking. In fact, there are no past records of human trafficking. As a result, UNODC completed two global reports on human trafficking in the past 2006 & 2009, to provide adequate information regarding human trafficking. The US Department of State has also produced and published a global “Trafficking in Persons Report, (TIP)” since 2001. Additionally, the “International Organization on Migration, (IOM)” collects information on victims of trafficking. Similarly, the “International Labor Organization, (ILO)” provides estimates of Labor exploitation of human trafficking on global and regional levels.

Illegal Activities and Transnational Threats

Transnational organized crime is a worldwide problem. However, the government is also blamed for making transnational crime common through corruption. As a result, their departments instigate a political coup, assassinate political leaders, and fuel international terrorist attacks. The “enterprise entity” of a transnational organized crime may be lawful or illegal. A majority of organized crimes involved in cross-border acts. For instance, in Taiwan, gang forces dominate the government and business sectors. Gangs extensively erode and divide Taiwan’s economic power. Taiwan gangs take part in the standard public works. The gangs extort protection fees from manufacturing industries demand environmental protection costs, resist significant commercial construction, and even manipulate the stock market amongst other disruptive activities.

Taiwan’s southern gangs cost South Taiwan’s public construction as high as 8% to 15% of its total regional budget. At the same time, the gangs expanded illegal activities overseas through the international economic and trade network. The trading system is identified for its role that once made Taiwan an international drug and private goods transfer station. Part of the Taiwan ship transport industry was used by organized criminal groups from Panama, Latin America, and other countries.  Transnational smuggling, illegal trade, and money laundering organizations have significantly increased. “Degradation” is a 19th-century Western social theorist’s argument. In the previous market stage of ancient Chinese society, shoddy goods flooded the villages without much regard for human needs.  News of recent upheavals taking place in Taiwan in 2015, dominated the news space. The news was evidence of Taiwan’s degradation. Taiwan used the China Union Pay Credit Card. However, Taiwan’s fraudsters used CUP cards to cheat billions of the Taiwanese dollars in just six months. In a bid to control the fraud, the People’s Bank of China introduced limits on Union Pay cards to help curb fraud. The incidences of fraud had contributed to a loss of 10 billion in just half a year. The Chinese police urged the Taiwan police to handle the cases. Up to 808 Taiwanese and 68 Chinese suspects arrested. The fraud incidences had a detrimental effect on the economic performance of the country.

Taiwan’s economics, exports, and consumptions experienced an economic slump and deterioration. Interestingly, the country’s telecommunication industry experienced significant growth. The increase was attributed to the use of electronic devices to facilitate fraud. The impacts of the fraud did not spare anyone. The former vice president Lui, Cui-Ron of Taiwan’s highest academic institution – Central Research Institute, lost her life saving of 21.27 million Taiwanese dollars. Similarly, other senior retired administrative officers were cheated. Taiwan’s fraud industry spread to other countries in Asia including China, Hong Kong, Macao, Vietnam, Philippine, Thailand, and Malaysia, amongst others where Taiwanese migrated. Taiwan had become a major fraud exporter. The crime was not unique to the financial sector. Contrariwise, the region’s security also deteriorated. Taiwan’s mafia gangs were now working with those of China. Chinese mafia is known for taking their victims captive. Today, the practice is not unique in Taiwan. Taiwan’s mafia started kidnapping Hong Kong businesspeople as a way to counter the losses they incurred from not being successful in fraud. The upgrading of Taiwan’s transnational organized has made the crime a cross-border affair, affecting other neighbors in the region such as Hong Kong and China.

Prostitution is also another form of transnational crime. Prostitution in Taiwan is illegal. Taiwan police department detected incidences of transnational prostitution in October 2015. The crime involved more than 100 female artists and models. The revelation was a national sex scandal that shocked Taiwan officials in the region. Interestingly, the discovery of prostitution events was made courtesy of the help of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The revelation was made after it emerged that several Taiwanese women were frequenting the U.S without any valid reason. Rigorous investigations identified that the women were moving to the U.S to do high-end prostitution business. The Taiwanese police acted swiftly upon being notified of the events transpiring. The case was conducted publicly to enable the public to know more regarding the events that occurred. Investigations revealed that several Taiwanese women were involved with rich people in the US, China, Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, amongst other regional countries. They introduced Taiwanese women to transnational prostitution, which was a high-end sex market. An example of how lucrative prostitution was in Taiwan is that of a Taiwanese female artist who traveled abroad with wealthy business people. The artist could make thousands of Taiwanese dollars in just a few days. Thus, prostitution was a major transnational business that lured as many as 100 female models

Transnational organized crime threatens the public’s life. Violence, drug crime, gambling, and prostitution all have a direct impact on the quality of life of society. Transnational organized crime does not only operate black-market trading and engage women in prostitution. Rather, it affects children whereby it forces them to engage in pornography. Similarly, millions of people become hooked on drugs, thereby diminishing their capacities to respond to their duties.

Intelligence Agencies Support Law Enforcement

Several agencies work together to help conduct investigations and hence curb incidences of crime in the region. DEA Special Operations Division was established in 1995. Additionally, the DHS, FBI, IRS, and federal prosecutor of the Crime Investigation Division of the Dept. of Justice work hand in hand to ensure that the effects of transnational crime do not transcend beyond Taiwan. The agencies are responsible for conducting investigations of electronic fraud and monitoring drug cases.

Drug trafficking is a transnational crime. However, the manufacture and trafficking of narcotics may also occur in the same country. The US DEA conducted a cocaine and heroin drug-source identification program that allowed drug experts to identify the country of drug seizure, and then determine whether the case is a transnational crime. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) coordinate the task of border security. The agencies work to prevent human trafficking and combat terrorist activities. The two bodies control the flow of people as ways of establishing protection measures. The use of biometric identification has been instrumental in curbing incidences of illegal immigration. Taiwan should also implement a biometric identification feature to help prevent human trafficking and counter-terrorism

Mafia-type organized crime includes various types of crimes. The most common forms of mafia-organized crime include drug smuggling and money laundering. Other emerging forms of crime include arms trafficking, terrorism, and the use of Apex technology. Unfortunately, it is difficult for law enforcers to curb such offenses. Such crimes demand the assistance of the international community. The efficient management of transitional crime cannot be left in the hands of only domestic police.

There are four judicial law enforcement entities namely, the Immigration Department, the Police Department, the Coast Guard, and the Investigation Bureau. All the departments work jointly to curb rising incidences of human trafficking in Taiwan. The agencies are also responsible for manning border security together with the immigration authorities. The efficient management of border security can only be attained through the effective positioning of the agencies. The agencies are also ideal for the management of non-traditional sources of threat.   Terrorism is a global problem. Terror groups are even conducting recruitments in the international community. The groups rely on foreign funding from their sympathizers in various parts of the world. The terror groups maintain contact with the affluent community who would help attain their objectives through funding.

There has been a significant rise in transnational crime since the end of the cold war. Regional conflicts have significantly increased since the late 1980s. However, the reduction in incidences of superpower confrontations has played influential roles in minimizing transitional conflicts.  It is believed that illicit activities such as trafficking of drugs, diamond smuggling, and human trafficking contribute to the rise of transnational crimes. Regional conflicts lead to an unprecedented number of refugees and further sabotage of the local economy. When there is conflict, terrorists have an ideal opportunity to pursue their agendas.

Managing the Intelligence-Law Enforcement Relationship

Foreign business relations transferred from the police department to custom patrol and immigration service in Taiwan since 2006. The Taiwan police department is mainly in charge of domestic law and order while the immigration department is involved in residence management, immigration counseling, border security, and exit.  The U.S. immigration units also emphasized n the essence of including terrorism as part of the critical mission. Taiwan’s immigration service has also implemented anti-terrorism tasks. Nonetheless, the definition, scope ad intensity of its implementation is different from that of the U.S.

Law enforcers in Taiwan focus on regional security issues. Regional organizations and INTERPOL work hand in hand to facilitate information sharing and joint operations. Organized crime can undermine the rule of law and good governance, especially in developing countries.” (P. 21 “The Globalization of Crime A Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment.” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 2010. Accessed February 9, 2017). It is imperative that the government changes its tactics of addressing terror crime. Evidence indicates that the motives for terror crimes include religious impulses and political gains. A weak framework to address the crime implies that policymakers in Taiwan would be incapable of formulating policies that would help combat terrorism. Moreover, poor governance and corrupt officials in many parts of the world work against the efforts of the country thereby enabling criminals, insurgents, and terrorists to operate with impunity. The criminals exploit informal value transfer mechanisms such as hawala or hundi and trade-based money laundering. They also use illegal cash couriers as bulk cash smugglers, especially in countries that have a nonexistent or weak anti-money laundering enforcement practices.” (P. 3-4 Johnson. D.T., (2010). The Escalating Ties between the Middle Eastern Terrorist groups and Criminal Activity. Washington Institute for Near East Policy). Taiwan can make a request for transnational crime prevention through the organization’s meeting. Taiwanese government can contact the U.S. Liaison police officers. As a result, foreign law enforcement personnel can collect intelligence to help in the investigation of transnational criminal activities in Taiwan. The visibility of Taiwan law enforcement organizations can be enhanced in the international community.

Beyond Information Exchanges: Using Intelligence Agencies in Enforcing Laws

Transnational organized crime has become a major challenge, in particular with the current trends of globalization. Money laundering crime is facilitated through quick money transfers offered by various financial institutions. The problem of money laundering is international. According to Article 14 of Taiwan’s money laundering laws and regulations, the Taiwan government shall enter into cooperation agreements or other international written agreements with foreign governments, institutions, or international organizations. The deals will help foster a plan under the principle of reciprocity to help prevent international money laundering. It would be ideal to strengthen supervision and inspection of the ACT to help to avoid occurrences and the development of transnational organized crime. The judiciary should reinforce the screening of illegal activities. It should also enhance its checks on high-risk “legitimate” industries to ascertain whether their activities are related to transnational organized crime. Similarly, higher-level economic sectors such as the cable TV and stock-listed companies should have their operations closely monitored to illuminate their engagement in transnational crime.

Law Enforcement and Intelligence in the War against Terror: The Implications of September 11, 2001

The concept of non-traditional security can be used to enhance the thinking of transnational crime research. The immigration unit under the Department of Homeland Security in the U.S. is facing major non-traditional security threats. DHS was forced to consider radical transformations of its security sector to ensure that it secures the lives of American citizens from terror attacks. Similarly, Taiwan may find the need to implement a new act to help protect its borders. Although the war on terrorism is a global issue, Taiwan is a more prominent victim of terror attacks. In fact, the neighboring countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia have no obvious factors that put their countries to threat. Conversely, Taiwan’s geographical and political position makes it a primary victim of terror crime. Transnational organized crime is often mistaken for one of the marginal problems of terrorism. Since the September 911 attack, some countries including the U.S. have transferred infinite resources from transnational crime to counter-terrorism. However, a lack of focus for transnational crime is a grave mistake. In fact, terrorists are now exploiting weaknesses in transnational activities to pursue their criminal agendas. Combating transnational organized crime is not a marginal problem. Dealing with transnational crime provides a framework for fighting terrorism. For instance, the Madrid train bombings on 11 March 2003 would have been prevented if the authorities had sufficient intelligence to note the conspiracy in prison.

Criminals and terrorists have developed international networks to distribute their activities, programs, and logistics to all continents. Their connectivity makes it difficult to address the crimes based on a single country’s legal system. International criminals are some of the major beneficiaries of globalization. Increases in global personnel, capital, and material flow provide an excellent cover for terrorists and criminals to pursue their objectives. Terrorists and transnational criminal groups have become globalized. After 9/11, the U.S. realized that it cannot be free from terror attacks. The conclusion was based on the fact that the country enjoys strong political, economic, and military power. The 911 incident evoked the U.S. that the real threat exists from within. Military threat is easier to deal with as the country receives signals before any attacks. The use of several laws and policies has been instrumental in the management of terror attacks. A major challenge to the function of the laws and policies has been to limit a certain degree of free equity and human rights protection. The increase in the number of foreign immigrants has made it difficult to create a reliable database that can be used for border patrol. Thus, it is imperative that alternative mechanisms be considered to help create an effective border patrol strategy.


A majority of the victims in Taiwan are afraid of retaliating from the mafia or organized crime groups. The victims rarely come out to testify in the judicial process. Most victims are vulnerable to the threat of criminal organizations. The victims believe that they may be induced to change their original intent during the legal proceedings. Moreover, some organized crime groups’ leaders are very evil hiding behind the scene, they rarely personally commit crimes. Even if they personally commit the case, they usually instruct subordinates to face the crime. Secret witnesses are often afraid of retaliation and do not want to go to testify. Taiwan mafia leaders are often public opinion representatives. They rely on huge political and economic forces as back up. The law enforcement personnel serve for a long time in Taiwan’s local area; their relatives also live in the same service area. Thus the law enforcement officers fear to bring to justice the criminals for the sake of their families

The drug trade, economic crime (including transnational fraud and counterfeit), money laundering, and terrorism endanger national security. Similarly, crimes hinder global development. The crimes are highly organized and have a broader influence on political, economic, cultural, and military aspects. Whether the market supply & demand rules of the economics of natural groups generate the view of principle, gangs would still exist even if their social systems are eliminated. A viable solution that would solve the loss of helplessness that provokes terrorist activities ought to be implemented. A majority of the activities are planned within, the Islamic population. Creating employment to help improve the livelihoods of communities in developing countries would play influential roles in eliminating incidences of transnational crime.

Scholars and government officials have recently expanded the definition of transnational organized crime as activities such as terrorism and cybercrime. Computer networks are unlike drugs and human traffickers that can be detected. Any historical reviews of transnational organized crime will reveal that there are very few new cases of transnational crime. Illicit trafficking, smuggling of weapons, illegal immigration, tax evasion, environmental crime, corruption, financial fraud as well as terrorism have been going on for hundreds of years. Studies have shown that changes in the size of these activities, as well as the increase of use of communications and traffic technology, enhance criminal activities. To solve the global crime, terrorism, and corruption, it is necessary to address the social, political, and economic environment that generates support for illegal activities. Economic imbalances between countries, authoritarian governments, and the lack of opportunities in many regions of the world are also evil factors that contribute to a rise in transnational crimes. Transnational organized crime including smuggling, fraud, counterfeiting, illegal immigration, kidnapping, and drug crime poses a significant threat to international security and development. Thus, regional cooperation is essential to foster the development of a crime-free society.

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