Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs): The Case of Combating Criminal Biker Gangs

Academic journal article International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs): The Case of Combating Criminal Biker Gangs

Article excerpt


Transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) have a profound impact on countries around the world. Transnational crime encompasses illegal activities that are carried out across national borders; this includes the planning or execution of the illegal activities. Over the last several decades, TCOs represent an increasing threat to societies all over the world (Markovic, 2013) in terms of drug trafficking and other kinds of crime (Markovic, 2014). Globalization has quickly facilitated the spread of these criminal activities. There are many TCOs operating worldwide including outlaw motorcycle gangs, or biker gangs. The Hells Angels Motorcycle Gang (HAMG) themselves are present in nearly 60 countries worldwide and pose a serious threat globally. Although there is a large worldwide presence of these outlaw motorcycle gangs, they are faced with varying degrees of public skepticism, legal regulations, and law enforcement across the globe. In Australia in 2014, for example, the High Court rejected a challenge by bikers to a law aimed at preventing biker gang members from associating with each other. The law was introduced in 2012 following a wave of gun violence involving criminal biker gangs and other organized crime groups (Berkovic, 2014).

Biker gangs such as the HAMC, Bandidos, Coffin Cheaters, and Outlaws operate on a transnational basis in their legal, as well as, illegal activities. Barker (2011) suggests that many American-based motorcycle clubs have evolved into biker gangs involved in organized crime nationally and internationally. Depending on social and political perceptions of these gangs by community stakeholders, laws and regulations to combat them vary among countries. While some countries have made it illegal to be a member, other countries are struggling to define boundaries for club activities as well as defining who are affiliated to clubs.

The focus of this paper is local responses to global challenges from transnational criminal organizations. The paper will examine how various countries combat outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs), and how stakeholders in the community and government respond to these TCOs. The extent of combating criminal Motor cycle (MC) gangs globally is conceptualized in terms of a stage model (Ditlev-Simonsen & Gottschalk, 2011) as a theorizing procedure (Michailova et. al., 2014; Weick, 1995, 1999). The purpose of this model is to illustrate criteria and magnitude of community stakeholders' interests including legislation, law enforcement efforts, and community perceptions applied in different countries. By using the model for a specific country, that country can identify its own level of law enforcement as such and as compared to other countries. Furthermore, the model can illustrate how difficult it is to police TCOs such as biker gangs, since perceptions and attitudes towards gang members vary globally (Barker, 2011; Gottschalk, 2013; Lavigne, 1996; Quinn & Koch, 2003; Shields, 2012).

Criminal Biker Gangs

Transnational criminal organizations represent a threat to security and economy both domestically and internationally. TCOs are organizations that conduct and carry out criminal operations across international borders (Markovic, 2013). TCOs may plan a crime in one country, carry it out in another, escape to a third, and keep the proceeds in a fourth country. Transnational crime has three broad objectives: provision of illicit goods, provision of illicit services, and the infiltration of business and government operations (Albanese, 2012). TCOs include groups such as La Cosa Nostra based in Italy, Los Zetas based in Mexico, and HAMC based in the United States. TCOs vary in their structure, culture, and fields of activity (Paraschiv, 2013).

Criminal biker gangs such as HAMC are especially relevant in a transnational perspective, as they have an established presence all over the world. Barker (2011) argues that criminal biker gangs in the United States have exported organized crime to the world. …

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