Research on Facilitators of Transnational Organized Crime: Understanding Crime Networks' Logistical Support, United States, 2006-2014 (ICPSR 37171)

Version Date: Apr 29, 2019 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Meg Chapman, Abt Associates

https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR37171.v1

Version V1

These data are part of NACJD's Fast Track Release and are distributed as they were received from the data depositor. The files have been zipped by NACJD for release, but not checked or processed except for the removal of direct identifiers. Users should refer to the accompanying readme file for a brief description of the files available with this collection and consult the investigator(s) if further information is needed.

This study addressed the dearth of information about facilitators of transnational organized crime (TOC) by developing a method for identifying criminal facilitators of TOC within existing datasets and extend the available descriptive information about facilitators through analysis of pre-sentence investigation reports (PSRs). The study involved a two-step process: the first step involved the development of a methodology for identifying TOCFs; the second step involved screening PSRs to validate the methodology and systematically collect data on facilitators and their organizations. Our ultimate goal was to develop a predictive model which can be applied to identify TOC facilitators in the data efficiently.

The collection contains 1 syntax text file (TOCF_Summary_Stats_NACJD.sas). No data is included in this collection.

Chapman, Meg. Research on Facilitators of Transnational Organized Crime: Understanding Crime Networks’ Logistical Support, United States, 2006-2014. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2019-04-29. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR37171.v1

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2013-R2-CX-0046)

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Access to these data is restricted. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
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2006 -- 2014
2013-10-01 -- 2016-09-30
  1. These data are part of NACJD's Fast Track Release and are distributed as they were received from the data depositor. The files have been zipped by NACJD for release, but not checked or processed except for the removal of direct identifiers. Users should refer to the accompanying readme file for a brief description of the files available with this collection and consult the investigator(s) if further information is needed.

  2. For information on how to obtain publicly available data files see the United States Sentencing Commission website.
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The purpose of the research was to produce three main products: (a) a methodology for identifying facilitating crimes and offenders in federal sentencing commission data, (b) typologies and modalities of criminal organizations and facilitators derived from systematically collected data and evidence, and (c) detailed descriptions of how organizations are structured to support illegal operations and how these operations are facilitated by others (e.g., legitimate businesses or storefronts, money launderers).

Two data sources provided by the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) were utilized: (1) the USSC Guidelines data, which included the public use dataset plus two restricted access variables (the docket number and the defendant number on the docket), and (2) pre-sentence investigation reports (PSRs) written by probation officers after the defendant's conviction for the judge's consideration at sentencing.

United States Sentencing Commission Guideline Data

The USSC maintains and distributes a public dataset that provides sentencing information on all offenders convicted of a felony or class A misdemeanor offense convicts in the US federal justice system. This dataset is a de-identified, defendant-sentence level dataset used by the USSC in order to determine the defendant's sentencing guideline recommendation.

In addition to the publicly available data, we used two restricted access variables derived from the federal case number - the docket number (DOCKETID) and the defendant number (DEFENNUM). Through a cooperative agreement with the USSC, we obtained an offender-sentence level dataset for years 2006-2014 that included both the docket and defendant numbers. We used the docket number to identify and classify organizations and conspiracies comprising of individual offenders, transforming the offender-sentence level dataset into a case-level dataset. We analyzed the USSC data at both the case level and at the individual offender level.

Pre-Sentence Investigation Reports (PSRs)

The United States Sentencing Commission's Monitoring Division maintains and collects PSRs prepared by parole officers before a defendant's sentencing hearing. Court officials, primarily the USSC staff for determining guidelines calculations and the sentencing judge, use the PSR to help determine a just and adequate sentence for the now-convicted defendant. The PSR contains detailed narrative information about a defendant's offense, criminal history, and personal history (i.e. employment, immigration status, and family life.) Although a large amount of the data reported the USSC's guidelines database is coded directly from the PSR, there are many parts of the PSR that remain in narrative form.

Coding the PSRs was central to this project because there are no indications in the guidelines data about whether or not a case involves TOC. Only the PSR reports the structure and organization of a conspiracy. Each PSR reports the names of all of the codefendants and their role in the conspiracy. This allows a researcher reviewing the PSRs to observe a comprehensive amount of information about the offense. Additionally, because of the specific organizational and procedural information found in the narrative, whether or not a case is transnational and whether or not it meets the definition of organized crime was able to be confirmed. Because each PSR contains defendant-specific information, the role and activities of each defendant in a conspiracy was able to be determined, allowing confirmation whether or not they served as a facilitator.

It is worth noting that reviewing PSRs is a resource-intensive data collection effort for a number of reasons. First, while PSRs follow the same format, the level of detail varies from case to case, depending on the details collected through the investigation. Second, because much of the information is stored in narrative text, large portions of the text had to be manually read and parsed to determine both TOC and TOCF status. Finally, data could only be accessed at the sentencing commission itself via Cooperative Agreement, limiting overall access to the PSRs.

A three step process was employed to locate and interview facilitators. In the first step, electronic data on the Guidelines application collected by the U.S. Sentencing Commission was used to sample convicted offenders who appeared to be facilitators. In the second step, pre-sentence investigation reports for those who appeared to be facilitators were reviewed to determine whether they were, in fact, facilitators with ties to TOC. Finally, a sample of 100 facilitators incarcerated in Federal prisons were interviewed to learn about the ways they initiated criminal facilitation activities for TOC networks, what skills and expertise TOC networks sought assistance with, and how they exploited otherwise licit institutions and infrastructure to carry out global criminal enterprises.

Offenders sentenced in the federal system for statutes determined to be linked to transnational organized crime and/or facilitation.

Individual

United States Sentencing Commission

Not applicable.

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Notes

  • These data are part of NACJD's Fast Track Release and are distributed as they were received from the data depositor. The files have been zipped by NACJD for release, but not checked or processed except for the removal of direct identifiers. Users should refer to the accompanying readme file for a brief description of the files available with this collection and consult the investigator(s) if further information is needed.

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.