In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Transnational Crime

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Data Sources
  • Drug Trafficking
  • Trafficking in Stolen Property
  • Weapons Trafficking
  • Counterfeiting
  • Commercial Sex
  • Human Trafficking
  • Fraud
  • Racketeering
  • Money Laundering
  • Corruption
  • International Crime
  • Policy and Prevention

Criminology Transnational Crime
Jay S. Albanese
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 October 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0024


Transnational crimes are violations of law that involve more than one country in their planning, execution, or impact. These offenses are distinguished from other crimes in their multinational nature, which poses unique problems in understanding their causes, developing prevention strategies, and in mounting effective adjudication procedures. Transnational crimes can be grouped into three broad categories involving provision of illicit goods (drug trafficking, trafficking in stolen property, weapons trafficking, and counterfeiting), illicit services (commercial sex and human trafficking), and infiltration of business and government (fraud, racketeering, money laundering, and corruption) affecting multiple countries. Transnational crimes are distinct from international crime, which involves crimes against humanity that may or may not involve multiple countries. Examples of international crimes are genocide and terrorism, which are also included in this guide to sources.

General Overviews

There are a growing number of texts that provide general overviews of transnational crime. Dammer, et al. 2006, Reichel 2008, and Pakes 2004 offer summaries of comparative criminal justice systems with some separate treatment of transnational crime. Fichtelberg 2008 provides a summary of international justice, with a discussion of several international and transnational crimes. These books are directed toward the undergraduate- or early graduate-level reader. Naím 2006 examines transnational crimes from the perspectives of its political and economic roots in globalization. Friedrichs 2007 delineates the conceptual distinctions between transnational crime and global criminology. Two edited volumes, Albanese 2005 and Reichel 2004, have individual chapters on specific transnational crimes, which are discussed in more depth.

  • Albanese, Jay S., ed. 2005. Transnational crime. Whitby, ON: de Sitter Publications.

    An edited volume of seven chapters, focusing heavily on human trafficking and related crimes.

  • Dammer, Harry R., Erika Fairchild, and Jay S. Albanese. 2006. Comparative criminal justice systems. 3d ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth Learning.

    A comprehensive overview of crime and justice around the world, focusing on the treatment of crime and criminals under four “families” of law—common, civil, socialist, and Islamic—using six “model” nations as examples. Designed as a university textbook.

  • Fichtelberg, Aaron. 2008. Crime without borders: An introduction to international criminal justice. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

    An introductory text providing useful overviews of the basis for international law, international and transnational crimes, and the response to them from international bodies.

  • Friedrichs, David O. 2007. Transnational crime and global criminology: Definitional, typological, and contextual conundrums. Social Justice 34:4–18.

    An effort to delineate the broad boundaries of transnational crime, including its organization and types, and to distinguishing it from global criminology.

  • Naím, Moisés. 2006. Illicit: How smugglers, traffickers, and copycats are hijacking the global economy. New York: Anchor.

    Presents an economic perspective on the global smuggling of people and goods, including the geopolitical roots of such crimes in a globalized world.

  • Pakes, Francis. 2004. Comparative criminal justice. Cullompton, UK, and Portland, OR: Willan.

    This introductory text focuses on the criminal justice process in different countries, focusing on Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australasia. An interesting perspective is provided on the methodology for comparative research and analysis and the essential ingredients of doing justice across cultures.

  • Reichel, Philip, ed. 2004. Handbook of transnational crime and justice. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    A sweeping edited effort, with a series of twenty-four concise chapters on different transnational crimes and the governmental response to them.

  • Reichel, Philip L. 2008. Comparative criminal justice systems: A topical approach. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

    A broad textbook treatment of crime and justice providing an international perspective with an emphasis on the criminal justice response to crime in different legal systems (with a separate chapter on Japan).

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