Breaking Organized Crime

Updated: Mar 9, 2020

Specialized training helps investigators find invisible payrolls and disrupt trafficking networks

Officers trained in CTOC discovered this regional poaching syndicate

A new study reveals that government officers working in countries with high incidences of corruption who have undergone a new specialized training, are now able to identify and arrest members of organized crime rings, even when the targeted suspects are protected by other officers. The special training does not guarantee successful prosecutions, but it has helped non-corrupt officers locate and seize suspicious assets, regardless of whether the suspects go to prison or not. Such “forfeiture” of assets (sometimes in the millions of dollars) weakens criminal rings. Due to its promising effectiveness, the specialized training is now being adopted by 6 government institutions in Asia and Africa, with replication set for Latin America.

The Counter-Transnational Organized Crime training course (C-TOC) is now being used in Southeast Asia and Central Africa, with agencies conducting joint training courses and a series of successful law enforcement operations. CTOC-trained officers were able to:

  • identify, arrest and prosecute a senior corrupt military officer for human trafficking;

  • identify and arrest members of a major African-Asian ivory trafficking ring;

  • identify human traffickers operating between Asia and North America; and

  • identify and stop a regional tiger poaching ring in Southeast Asia.

CTOC was developed by the counter-trafficking organization Freeland as part of a comprehensive training curriculum that helps officers identify and dismantle wildlife

and human trafficking rings. Through three decades of project-related experience in Russia, Asia and Africa, Freeland staff — including former law enforcement officers —

searched for ways to find and support effective and passionate enforcement officers

working in corrupt environments. CTOC was the result.

“Much of the public in corrupt countries give up on law enforcement agencies, thinking

they are all bad, or that the few good officers cannot change a corrupted system,” said

Steven Galster, founder of Freeland. “There are in fact good officers everywhere. We

find them and empower them with CTOC training to protect vulnerable communities

and wildlife from organized crime -- and we’re seeing results.”

Freeland observed positive impact when they provided officers in Southeast Asia and

parts of Africa with tailored training and technology, and gave them actionable intelligence. For example, Thai police instructed in CTOC’s digital forensics were able to widen a human trafficking investigation from a road check that revealed illegal migrants in the back of a truck, to finding an Army Major General who was a pivotal player in the Rohingya trafficking supply chain from Myanmar to Malaysia. Evidence from the investigation was used to convict the corrupt officer and put him in prison. Officers from the Democratic Republic of Congo used CTOC training to find and arrest a representative of a Nigeria-based, Chinese financed syndicate that was trafficking in large amounts of elephant ivory and pangolin scales.

Freeland developed CTOC to combine training, technology, and intelligence. CTOC has 2

parts: Part I is the specialized training course. Part II consists of mentoring officers with

financial crime information and new technologies.

Supporting Freeland’s CTOC has been the digital intelligence company Cellebrite, as well

as IBM, both of which are providing the artificial intelligence and machine learning tools

that are used in the CTOC training courses and related law enforcement actions.

“As a civil society organization, we work closely with anti-money laundering authorities because their focus is on civil law,” said former Police General and current Director of Freeland in Thailand, Petcharat Sangchai. “The intelligence we provide anti-money laundering agencies can hit organized crime where it hurts them most –in their wallet.” CTOC is undergoing adoption in Congo-Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Freeland has received financial support to develop CTOC from the Blue Moon Fund, private donors, as well as grants and contracts from the US Government, including the US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Agency for International Development. The new study on CTOC’s impact is being conducted by the Analytical Center of Excellence on Trafficking (ACET), a data fusion center set up by Freeland consisting of civil society organizations and technology companies, and which is funded by PMI-Impact, a global grant initiative by Philip Morris International to support projects dedicated to fighting illegal trade and related crimes.

For more information:

Freeland is a global counter-trafficking organization whose mission is to protect vulnerable people and wildlife from organized crime and corruption, while revitalizing ecosystems and communities for a more secure world. Our vision is a world free of wildlife trafficking and human slavery. Our team of law enforcement and development experts work alongside government officers, local communities, students, and other NGOs in Asia, Africa and the Americas to educate, empower, and catalyze protection and recovery.

Cellebrite is committed to offering Digital Intelligence solutions for a safer world. It is the undisputed global leader in the emerging market of software solutions, AI and analytic tools that allow Law Enforcement agencies, Government and Enterprises to accelerate criminal investigations and address the challenges of crime and security in a digital world. The company's solutions are used by more than 6,000 agencies, in over 150 countries.