2019 POP Conference

The 2019 International POP Conference (problem-oriented policing) has been scheduled for November 11-13 in Santa Cruz, California, USA. This annual event, including the competition for the Herman Goldstein Award, “is often described by attendees as the most substantive policing conference they’ve ever attended. Each year, police officers of all ranks, as well as crime consultants and crime researchers, come together to discuss what they’ve learned about trying to reduce different crime and safety problems.” Preliminary information about the 2019 conference is available here.

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Elder fraud

U.S. authorities announced a year-long “largest-ever” elder fraud crackdown resulting in criminal and civil charges against 260 defendants for defrauding more than 2 million victims out of $750 million, as reported here. The total annual loss to elder Americans is estimated at $3 billion. The investigation was aided by Europol and police in several individual countries, with “alleged fraudsters charged criminally and extradited from Canada, the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Poland.” An additional 600 U.S.-based “money mules” who helped transfer funds were identified, most receiving warning letters rather than charges because they didn’t realize they were facilitating scams.

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Armed groups in Venezuela

This article details the armed groups allied with the Maduro government in the current crisis in Venezuela. One key group is FAES, an elite tactical unit within the national police created in 2017 that has “morphed into little more than an extermination group.” Others are “colectivos,” armed civilian groups created under the earlier Chavez regime, accused of attacking, robbing, and kidnapping supporters of the political opposition. In addition, the Colombian guerrilla groups ELN and FARC operate in 13 of 24 Venezuelan states controlling drug trafficking and other organized crime. The allegiance of the bulk of the country’s 140,000 soldiers is uncertain, but military leadership loyalty is expected since they have been put in charge of many lucrative government and financial institutions and also “simultaneously belong to the Cartel of the Suns criminal structure.”

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Women, peace and security

This blog post notes the approaching 20th anniversary of the UN resolution on Women, Peace and Security, which promotes “gender mainstreaming in militaries and peacekeeping missions.” It also reviews a new book detailing both accomplishments and challenges of WPS, including the role of women in policing. In the face of current disturbing trends around the world, the post argues “The antidote to the risks of geopolitical stalemate, populism and isolationism is to recognize and support the strength and resilience of women as equal peace and security actors.”

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Laundering billions

The Sarajevo-based Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has uncovered a scheme that “allowed corrupt politicians and organized-crime figures to launder funds, evade taxes, hide assets abroad, and carry out other illegal activities,” as reported here. The “Troika Laundromat” mainly enabled Russian elites to launder funds via Armenian and Lithuanian connections, and then through Austrian and German banks, ultimately “to secretly acquire shares in state-owned companies, or to buy real estate both in Russia and abroad.” Experts say this is just one example of widespread money laundering in the international system enabling corruption, tax evasion, and organized crime enterprises.

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Mexico continues to struggle

Mexico’s new president promised a different approach when he was running for office — “to withdraw the military from regions wracked by drug violence and focus on education, social programs, and job creation to help young people avoid falling into the hands of criminal organizations.” As reported here, however, his actions have not followed suit. His proposal for a new “National Guard” militarized police was opposed by civil society groups and has been delayed. The underlying problem is largely economic — heavy unemployment combined with chronic under-funding of public safety and justice institutions.

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Women police in Taiwan

This article provides some historical background on women in Taiwan policing. The first female cadets joined in 1947, but roles were limited: “protecting women and children, household registration, checking on the welfare of adopted daughters and sex workers, general security, conducting traffic and investigating cases related to women and children.” It was not until 1973 that women were admitted to Central Police University, and the first woman was appointed to the level of bureau chief in 2003. Today women make up 10.6% of police, up from just 3.6% in 2004.

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