A prolific novelist and nonfiction author (The Hotel, 1997, etc.) explains the threat of international organized crime.
Robinson traces "the birth of modern transnational crime" to a 1990 Easter weekend summit near Vienna among representatives of criminal factions in Italy, Russia, Poland, and Colombia. Examining how criminals thrive by cooperating in a global economy that has become nearly impossible to police, he concludes that sovereignty is the problem: "The good guys have borders and no money, the bad guys have no borders and piles of money." Robinson pulls few punches in this alarming, sordid saga of greed, violence, and corruption. Ciudad del Este, a criminal hangout in Paraguay, is "the anus of the earth"; Russia has become "a full-fledged mafiocracy"; Miami is now "the capital of South America"; the British Commonwealth is a "money-laundering cesspool"; and the Internet has grown into "the most powerful force on the planet since Christ." Validating this alarmist language are numerous accounts of complicated multinational crimes that range from credit-card scams to counterfeiting Canadian currency to cocaine trafficking to selling stolen components from nuclear weapons to offshore banking fraud to the corruption in the gambling casinos operated by the St. Regis Mohawks to the ultimate coal-to-Newcastle operation, a venture "to ship toxic waste from the States to Chernobyl." Robinson believes that transnational crime is the "defining issue for the twenty-first century" and that the only plausible remedies are international cooperation among law-enforcement agencies and the political will to dam the swollen rivers of illicit cash that flow unimpeded across borders. Although he includes a formidable bibliography, there are no footnotes or endnotes, so readers cannot easily determine the sources of some of his more lurid allegations.
Robinson's prose is often breathless, urgent—even hyperbolic—but if only a modest moiety of his claims are accurate, the threats to the world's financial security are indeed ominous.