Interpersonal cooperation in illegal markets

The case of human smuggling organisations in the North of Italy.

group of people at a beach

Presenters: Dr Niccolò Casnici and Dr Sandra Cherubini, University of Brescia in Italy

Illegal markets are characterised by the absence of public institutions and formal contracts. Under such uncertain circumstances, what type of factors facilitate cooperation between illegal market actors? This question has been examined empirically with regard to a specific and under-researched illegal organisation type: human smuggling networks.

These criminal enterprises differ from traditional Mafia-type syndicates, in that they are not necessarily bound by family or kinship ties, where violence is not generally used to intimidate and no territorial control or code of conduct is enforced by the criminal organisation.

Based on data from an investigation into a large-scale human smuggling organisation in the North of Italy, the presentation argues that cultural similarities and criminal experience are important facilitating factors associated with cooperation between members of such enterprises.

It proposes that these aspects should be carefully considered with regard to the ineffectiveness of current counter-smuggling measures. The findings come from a paper co-written by Dr Niccolò Casnici and Dr. Anna Paus.