THIEVES' WORLD by Claire Sterling


The Threat of the New Global Network of Organized Crime
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 An authoritative study by journalist Sterling (Octopus, 1989) of the breathtaking power and influence accumulated by modern organized crime around the world. Sterling traveled intensively and received cooperation at the highest levels in seeking to discover the extraordinary inroads made by organized crime, particularly in the aftermath of the breakup of the Soviet Union. At the start of the 1990s, she notes, the ``myth still prevailed that only Italy and the United States offered a natural habitat for the Mafia, and for indeed all organized crime.'' She quotes highly reliable estimates that the drug traffic alone exceeds half a trillion dollars a year, making it the world's second biggest moneymaker after the arms traffic, in which organized crime is also involved. In June 1990, at the insistence of German Chancellor Kohl, the prime ministers of the European Community set aside two hours to discuss means by which a European Community without boundaries would deal with the issue. These problems have been compounded by the permeability of borders outside the Community. As a Polish Interior spokesman noted, ``in effect, we have no borders.'' But the biggest single new source of crime has been in Russia. The Russian Interior Ministry warned in 1991 that organized crime would soon control 30%40% of the country's GNP. President Yeltsin himself estimated that by the end of 1992 ``nearly two-thirds of Russia's commercial structure had ties to the growing criminal world.'' Russia, with no law permitting access to bank accounts, no mechanism for controlling private banks, no sanctions for money laundering, no inspectors to check the source of foreign capital, no tax audits, and no legal provisions against organized crime is, says Sterling, almost helpless before the onslaught. While some of her material is badly organized and repetitive, and some, as Sterling herself concedes, ``seemingly unbelievable,'' this book represents the most comprehensive insight so far into a menace that has powerful political as well as legal implications.

Pub Date: June 23rd, 1994
ISBN: 0-671-74997-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1994


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