Transnational criminal networks operating in social exclusion contexts

Maria Cutillas Belmonte, María Semitiel García, Pedro Noguera Méndez, Rafael López Serrano, Lourdes Molera Peris


Social exclusion and transnational criminal networks (TCN) are two complex phenomena bound together. There is a causal and bidirectional link between them that is not taken into account in most public policies designed to combat them. Usually, these phenomena are disaggregated and treated separately, even in cases where they are present together. The starting point of this research is that social interventions are better planed when the social structure and the community dynamics are taken into account. An effective intervention is, then, based on altering the structure underlying the undesired situations, like social exclusion or TCN. Social Network Analysis (SNA) has shown that social changes can be spread by making use of the social fabric and relationships that exist within a community. Many studies analyse the disruption of criminal networks using SNA. Nevertheless, the transformation of these type of networks has not been worked on in depth, even less considering the social exclusion situation of their actual or potential members. In this research work SNA is combined with other methodologies such as simulations, Galam’s theory of percolation and devoted actor’s model. The main objective is to analyse the two phenomena, social exclusion and TCN, emphasizing those cases where they occur together. Knowing the causes common to both is crucial for designing interventions adapted to the particular real contexts. As a case study, the organizational structure of the gangs of El Salvador is presented, showing the main roles played by the actors in these particular criminal networks. The ultimate aim of this research is to propose social interventions to modify the criminal networks operating in a social exclusion context, to modify the reality of the gang members and the communities where they act in, eliminating or reducing the criminal activity they are involved in. The transformation process of TCN should be designed taking advantage of the existing social structure to spread changes in the behaviour of the gang members.



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