You are here

Social and Economic Structure of Criminal Networks

Project Type: 

This project will aim to improve the current PET models and formalisms describing both privacy, as well as the loss of privacy with a goal to improve these models so as to better understand the causes of, and solutions to, privacy breaches. In the same vein, they will develop useful technologies for enhancing the privacy of citizens of an electronic world.

Project Leader(s): 

Dr. Uwe Glässer, Simon Fraser University and Dr. Alexander Rutherford, Simon Fraser University

In recent years, the criminal justice system has placed increasing emphasis on understanding the network structure of organized crime. These network structures have both social and economic aspects. These networks include leadership structures, as well as the recruiting mechanisms through which the criminal network seeks to perpetuate itself. Coupled to the social network is an economic network through which members benefit financially through illegal activities, such as the distribution and sale of illegal drugs. Many of the same market forces at play in the legal economy are important for this underground economy: risk versus reward and supply versus demand. This project will build network models of criminal organizations and use them to evaluate the potential effectiveness of different methods for disruption or destabilization. For example, is it more effective to target the social structure of the network, its economy, or perhaps a combined approach? If the social structure is targeted, would it be more effective to focus on the leadership structure by arresting the leaders of the organization or to attack its recruitment mechanisms through community interventions? If the illegal economy of a drug distribution network is targeted, is it more effective to focus on traffickers or on interventions aimed at reducing the street value of drugs? Criminal networks are not static, but rather they adapt to external pressure. This is one reason why it can be difficult to destabilize them. Methods for countering this adaptability will be explored using dynamical models. The focus of this project is not on collecting data on existing criminal networks. Rather, in collaboration with project partners from the RCMP and the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General of BC, a variety of realistic but hypothetical network structures will be identified for analysis.

Project team: 
Dr. Peter Borwein, Simon Fraser University
Dr. Particia Brantingham, Simon Fraser University
Dr. Bryan Kinney, Simon Fraser University
Dr. Bojan Mamadanovic, Simon Fraser University
Dr. Alexa van der Waall, Simon Fraser University
Funding period: 
April 1, 2021 - March 31, 2021