Advances in technology are continuing to transform the illicit-trade landscape as dramatically as they are changing its legal counterpart, particularly as the increasing dominance of online trade provides a means to connect customers to vendors in a way that is direct, discreet and often anonymous.

This study explores the characteristics of the online presence of the following illicit markets: drug trafficking, human trafficking, migrant smuggling, the illicit wildlife trade (IWT) and the illicit trade in cultural property. It also outlines the key changes that the growth of technology has brought upon the market dynamics of each.

Transformative Technologies: How digital is changing the landscape of organized crime

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Lucia Bird Ruiz-Benitez de Lugo

Lucia is a Senior Analyst at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. Lucia researches and writes on a broad range of organised crime types internationally, however her focus to date has been on human smuggling, human trafficking, drug trafficking and policy, and cyber crime. She is a practising lawyer in the data protection and cyber security space. Previously, Lucia worked as legal and policy adviser to the Planning and Development Department of the Punjab Government, Pakistan, and before that held the same role at the Ministry of Finance, Ghana. During this time Lucia was affiliated with Oxford Policy Management, a development consultancy headquartered in the UK. Prior to this Lucia worked as a corporate lawyer in London, where she is currently based.

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Thi Hoang

Thi is an Analyst at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime. She has been part of the Global Initiative team since February 2017. She is currently working on the Responsible & Ethical Business Coalition against Trafficking (RESPECT) Initiative, which serves as a platform for thought leaders, practitioners, and policy makers and to mobilise the business community as a strategic partner to tackle human trafficking. Her other projects include the Modern Slavery Map, an interactive map for business of anti-human trafficking organisations, and the Tech Against Trafficking initiative, a coalition of technology companies and stakeholders aiming to help eradicate human trafficking using technology.

Her main areas of interest are human development – especially equity in education and healthcare, women’s empowerment; trafficking of children and women; poverty and humanitarian emergencies. Her regional interests are South Eastern Asia and Africa. She has supported the Global Poverty Project (now Global Citizen) in Wellington, New Zealand; the Austrian Red Cross, Supertramps in Vienna. She is currently a member of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR)‘s Standing Group on Organised Crime (SGOC) and supporting the Regional Academy on the United Nations (RAUN) in her personal capacity.

Thi speaks four languages: Vietnamese (mother tongue), English (professional proficiency), Chinese – Mandarin (intermediate) and German (intermediate).

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Julia Stanyard

Julia joined the Global Initiative in October 2017 as an analyst, and the coordinator of our UNTOC-Watch Initiative.

She graduated with a Masters and Bachelors from Cambridge University.  Her MPhil thesis was on the illicit antiquities trade and crime prevention strategies taken to combat this trade, in comparison to other transnational criminal markets.  She also studied cross-cultural comparative criminology, organised crime and policing as well as criminological theories and research methods.

She recently returned from Nairobi, where she completed a fellowship with the British Institute for Eastern Africa, researching illicit antiquities in Africa for the Global Initiative and the ENACT project.  She is now based in Geneva.

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Summer Walker

Summer Walker is the Global Initiative’s New York Representative, as well as a Senior Analyst. In her role, she engages with the United Nations community and government missions to bring the research, analysis and innovative approaches of GI and its Network of Experts to multilateral policy debates. Ms. Walker focuses on global criminal justice agendas and produces relevant policy briefs and commentary pieces on issues ranging from drug policy to cybercrime. As a research consultant, she has worked in New York and Berlin for international NGOs, foundations, development agencies and research institutes. During 2015-2016, she directed a drug policy project at United Nations University in New York leading up to the 2016 UN General Assembly special session on the world drug problem. Ms. Walker’s wider background is in human rights and development, and she explores the impacts of organized crime and associated responses in these areas. Ms. Walker holds an MSc in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from Colgate University.

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Simone Haysom

Simone Haysom is a Senior Analyst with the Global Initiative with expertise in urban development, corruption and organised crime, and over a decade of experience conducting qualitative fieldwork in challenging environments.

Between 2010 and 2013, she worked for the Overseas Development Institute in London, researching urban displacement in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa, and humanitarian policy in conflict zones. Before joining the GI in 2017, she worked as a freelance consultant, researching issues related to conflict, development and organised crime for organisations including Médecins Sans Frontières, the Institute for Security Studies, and the University of Cape Town.

She is the author of The Last Words of Rowan du Preez: Murder and Conspiracy on the Cape Flats, published by Jonathan Ball. She has a Mphil in Geography from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Gates Scholar. She has been a Visiting Academic at the School of African Studies at the University of Oxford, and is currently an associate of the Oceanic Humanities for the Global South research project, based at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Simone has been closely involved with GITOC’s pioneering work on heroin markets in Southern and East Africa, including leading multi-country studies on the development of illicit urban markets across the region. She has also led the development of GITOC’s work on online illicit markets in illegal wildlife products using machine-learning technology and is engaged in mapping transborder illicit charcoal value-chains across East Africa.

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