Transnational organized crime (TOC) groups are self-perpetuating associations of individuals who operate, wholly or in part, by illegal means and irrespective of geography. They constantly seek to obtain power, influence, and monetary gains. There is no single structure under which TOC groups function—they vary from hierarchies to clans, networks, and cells, and may evolve into other structures. These groups are typically insular and protect their activities through corruption, violence, international commerce, complex communication mechanisms, and an organizational structure exploiting national boundaries.
With few exceptions, TOC groups’ primary goal is economic gain and they will employ an array of lawful and illicit schemes to generate profit. Crimes such as drug trafficking, migrant smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, firearms trafficking, illegal gambling, extortion, counterfeit goods, wildlife and cultural property smuggling, and cyber crime are keystones within TOC enterprises. The vast sums of money involved can compromise legitimate economies and have a direct impact on governments through the corruption of public officials.