Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Still We Close Our Eyes, Part 2

We continue from Part 1 reviewing, without comment, excerpts from a paper entitled Trafficking in Women: Markets, Networks and Organized Crime by Phil Williams, February, 2006:

Relationships with Drug Trafficking and Arms Trafficking


Parallel Trafficking. The first kind of relationship is what is sometimes termed parallel trafficking, when different kinds of commodities move along the same routes, using the same mechanisms and modalities and targeting the same corrupt officials. This is a term that has been used in relation to trafficking in drugs from Latin America to the United States and the use of the same routes and methods for trafficking in endangered species of fauna and flora.xvii In effect, it recognizes that countries that play a particular role in one kind of commodity trafficking often play a similar role with different commodities. There are certainly examples of parallel trafficking in women and drugs. The Balkans route to Western Europe provides perhaps the best example of this: what used to be a prime route for drugs going from Central Asia to Western Europe has also become a prime route (and in many cases destination) for trafficked women.

Combined trafficking. Another possible relationship – and one aspect of the interlocking discussed by Naylor – is the notion of combined trafficking i.e. criminal organizations not only traffic in different products but transport and move them together where this is feasible. Albanian criminal organizations that traffic people and drugs into Italy provide some of the best examples of this. Even if the different commodities are not co-mingled or physically trafficked together, (because of concerns over security or the inconvenience of moving different products) the fact that transnational criminal organizations with broad portfolios engage multiple commodity trafficking provides a tacit linkage between the illicit markets in different products. There is also another linkage between drug trafficking and women trafficking: the coexistence of drug and sex outlets in various red-light districts in major cities.

Reverse trafficking. This occurs where one commodity is brought in one direction and a different commodity is taken back. Some of the women trafficking from Eastern and Central Europe to Holland and Belgium might well exhibit this quality with women coming the one way and synthetic drugs or stolen cars going back east.

Displacement trafficking. Although the kinds of trafficking discussed above are the most obvious relationships, there are others to consider. One possibility, for example, is displacement of a criminal organization from one market to another – because the opportunities and profits are greater, because the risks are less, or because the profit risk ratio is simply more favorable. In the Balkans, for example, some of those who were involved in trafficking in arms during the conflicts of the 1990s now find it more attractive to traffic in women or exploit them for prostitution. In this connection it is worth considering the case of Eduard Dilber who was arrested in December 2002 and placed in custody in Zenica prison. Dilber had become "one of the most prominent persons in the white slave trade and soliciting in Bosnia. Before that he had been linked with arms smuggling".xviii A former commander in the Bosnian Croat army, he owns the Edo cafe in the suburbs of Brestovsko where girls were held against their will. In this case, he moved into a market in which efforts were being made to crack down on the problem. More generally, however, the risks in the women trafficking market are lower than in other criminal markets.

Another potential linkage involves criminal proceeds: profits from trafficking in women could be used to finance drug trafficking or arms trafficking. The converse is also possible. This financial linkage is another way in which the markets can intersect with one with one another. Whether the activities are specialized or diverse, they still depend critically on networks of trusted relationships and a set of activities carried out by these networks. The next section examines some of these networked organizations.


If Russian criminal networks were in this market early, they were soon followed by the Albanian mafia clans. Indeed, according to one assessment, "trafficking in women and forced prostitution seem to have become much more important for Albanian organized crime in 1999, with thousands of women from Kosovo having fled to Albania during the armed conflict in the region. About 300,000 women from Eastern European countries work as prostitutes in Europe. More and more seem to be 'organized' in Albanian networks that are not only limited to ethnic Albanian prostitutes, but also comprise women from Romania, Bosnia, Moldova, Russia, etc. The pimps often pretend to be Kosovars in order to have the status of a political refugee, even though many of them come from Albania. Some seem to control the 'business' from abroad. Belgium, in particular, seems to be the seat of several leaders of the trafficking networks. In 1999, ten people linked to Albanian crime were shot in Brussels".xxii The other country where Albanian criminal networks are particularly prominent in the women trafficking business is Italy where according to one well-informed assessment, 48% of the prostitutes are from Eastern Europe; 35%-40% are minors (from 12 to 18 years old); and 26% have been kidnapped and taken from their countries of origin by force.xxiii Moreover, whatever their origins, "all the women currently on the streets (of Italy) are slaves. The proof is that the Nigerians, the Albanians, the Romanians and the women from Eastern European countries all have their passports taken away by their pimps. There is not one meter of street in which prostitution is not controlled by criminals... The Albanians operate in family clans, in 'joint ventures' with the Mafia in Eastern Europe and Italy".xxiv

Cooperation among criminal organizations is particularly important. As suggested above, a key factor in making Italy such an important destination for trafficked women has been agreement between Albanian criminal organizations and the Camorra and 'Ndrangheta. These criminal associations or alliances have been mutually profitable. Indeed, what is surprising is the lack of competition and conflict among criminal organizations over the trafficking business.


As well as thinking in terms of formal criminal organizations, however, the trafficking business can also be understood in terms of networks of criminals, with each individual or small group fulfilling certain roles and responsibilities within the network. Moreover, the networks can also include other entities such as legitimate and front companies. As one commentary observed "The trafficking network includes sellers, guards, numerous modeling and travel agencies, brothel owners, corrupt public officials, and smugglers. Individuals who supply false documents, bribed air and auto transport company workers, etc".xxv This list could easily be extended to include the recruiters who initially identify and approach victims, luring them with false promises and subsequently brutalizing or coercing them. In the case of trafficking through the Balkans it also includes villagers in key border hamlets who know local trails that can avoid checks by border guards and police. The other virtue of the network approach is that it is inherently flexible. In some cases, a criminal organization might set up all the infrastructure and arrangements and exert "total control over the process of transporting the 'goods' from the point of departure to the point of delivery".xxvi In other instances, the organization will control part of the trafficking chain but hand off or contract out other parts to individuals or groups able to bring specialized knowledge or skills to where they are needed.

I will present more from Williams' paper in subsequent posts.

It is important to know, though, that organized crime derives its money from a variety of sources. In particular, the cartels, which supply the money I will be writing about, get that money in part from the sex slave trade, and use it, as well as heroin money, to buy off our elected and appointed officials.

As I continue The Heroin Lobby, I will present more names of U.S. political figures who receive or have received their money from organizations that front for organized crime. In addition to names, I will present dates, dollar figures, and a documented trail that you can follow with me via the links. This will include connections to high-ranking US politicians, some of whose names you will recognize.

You can warm up for this adventure by reading a series of posts I did last fall that describe, among other things, the real human cost of the sex slave trade in the Balkans. Here are links and short teasers:

Terror, Corruption and Sex Slaves: From Moldova to Macedonia

Al Qaeda is involved in the production of narcotics -- heroin -- and Turkish organized crime, having fairly thoroughly infiltrated the Turkish government, helps move those drugs to the West. The money that is made goes in part to fund terrorist activities, but goes also toward the theft and proliferation of US nuclear and other weapons technology. An extensive network of bribery and corruption among US government figures, including elected and appointed officials in the Executive and Legislative branches, enables all this to occur and facilitates terrorist activity, including strikes against US targets; bribery and corruption also keep the narcoterrorist leaders safe from effective US action.

In this post, we will begin to take a look at the hub of international organized crime where much of this comes together, the Balkans, approaching this sphere from a new direction: that of the sex slave industry.


VELESTA, Macedonia — Olga winced as she drew back the bandage on her right breast, revealing an infected puncture wound that hadn't healed since a man bit her in a fit of sexual rage. But the wound, for which the 19-year-old Moldovan lacked even basic medicine, is only a small part of Olga's daily agony. For more than a year she has been held as a sex slave in this town in western Macedonia, where human trafficking flourishes and young girls are forced to endure the sexual whims of thousands of men.

Natasha: "I want to shoot him."

In Velesta, a key transit town in the sex trade where women are beaten and raped into submission, Natasha was bought by Meti, an ethnic Albanian pimp wanted by the Macedonian police on smuggling and prostitution charges. "Meti beat me if he heard that I didn’t want to go with a client, or if I disobeyed him," Natasha said.

Crucial to the slave trade is a means of conditioning the slaves to obedience.

Important to the "sex industry" is a means of conditioning the girls to sexual activity with different partners, generally against their will. The girls must become accustomed to being raped -- violently. When "consent" is given, it is typically coerced -- indeed, it is often coerced from a minor.

Where the persons trafficked in the slave trade are to be sex slaves, rape and physical abuse combine to prepare the women to submit to their intended role. It is a universal combination, as old as the sex slave industry itself.


Clients by the dozens would come to the bars where Meti made her work, the Bela Dona and Club 69. Natasha estimates she was forced to sleep with more than 1,000 men during her nine months in Velesta. Besides the Albanians and Macedonians, there were men from "France, Germany and the United States," Natasha said, referring to soldiers from the NATO peacekeeping mission in Macedonia and nearby Kosovo. "They were as bad as the rest," Natasha said. "They did anything they wanted to us. And besides, if Meti heard me asking them for help, he would have killed me."

"Everybody Does It"

The first article of this post is One night in Velesta by Preston Mendenhall; it can also be found at a site that addresses human trafficking.

VELESTA, Macedonia — It was midnight on a Friday and the carnival of horrors was open for business. Maks, a swaggering pimp in this drab town notable only for its endless strip of bordellos, appeared at the hotel room door with an adolescent girl in tow. "This one is my youngest," he said. With one arm draped around 17-year-old Lena's neck, Maks' free hand found its way up her white T-shirt. He pulled it up to reveal Lena's breasts. "Look at these things!" he boasted.

Patriot Games: Sex Slaves, Drugs, Guns and Bribes (Part 1 of 2)

TIRANA, Albania - Organized crime syndicates in the Balkans, spawned when communism collapsed a decade ago, are thriving on illegal trade in drugs and sex slaves. The final destination for much of the goods and services is Western Europe. The trade, which yields billions of dollars each year, doesn't just pay for the mansions and yachts of wealthy traffickers. It also has a political purpose — supporting the purchase of arms for Albanian rebels.

Nearly two years after NATO troops drove Serb forces from this region, rebels are believed to still be skimming profits from drug and sex slave trafficking to fund illegal arms purchases for ethnic Albanian rebel movements.

This trafficking has allowed both the Kosovo Liberation Army in the southern Serbian province of Kosovo and the National Liberation Army in Macedonia to be outfitted with the latest in rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, mortars, sniper rifles and night-vision goggles.

It is a recurring them on Stop Islamic Conquest: the ties between organized crime and terrorism.

Patriot Games: Sex Slaves, Drugs, Guns and Bribes (Part 2 of 2)


No matter how much money the sex trade generates for traffickers, their big-ticket item continues to be drugs, police say.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency estimates that 4,000 to 6,000 kilos of heroin are smuggled from Afghanistan to Western Europe every month, largely through the Balkans.

With a kilo of heroin worth between $50,000 and $200,000 on the street, the European traffic generates a market worth $7 billion a year, making it easily the biggest regional industry in the Balkans.

In February, Thomas Koeppel of the Swiss national police said, "Albanians account for 90 percent of our problems with drugs."


Aurora said...
Yankee, these are excellent exposes. I wonder if you'd consider writing a summary of the Balkans one to post on TMS and link back here to your longer post?

September 26, 2007 2:09 PM

Stay tuned as The Heroin Lobby continues. For now, I would like to leave you with the lyrics to a song entitled Sixteenth Century Greensleeves by Ritchie Blackmore:

It's only been an hour
Since he locked her in the tower
The time has come
He must be undone
By the morning

Many times before
The tyrant's opened up the door
Then someone cries
Still we close our eyes
Not again

Meet me when the sun is in the Western skies
The fighting must begin before another someone dies
Crossbows in the fire light
Green sleeves waving
Madmen raving
Through the shattered night

Flames are getting higher
Make it leap unto the spire
Draw bridge down
Cut it to the ground
We shall dance around the fire

No more night
We have seen the light
Let it shine on bright
Hang him higher

1 comment:

pela68 said...

Off topic I'm afraid, but do you remember the "cruise missiles" conversation we had a while ago?

Have you seen this?

He actually stole our idea! HEH! (c;