Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 37–55 | Cite as

States can play, too: constructing a typology of state participation in illicit flows



The prominent growth in “illicit globalization” has been broadly construed as an anti-state phenomenon, and criminological literature has largely reflected this focus on nonstate actors. However, states too have used and will continue to rely on illicit globalization for their own ends. A state or states may be driving demand, providing supply, or facilitating the transport of any given illicit flow (or perhaps all of the above simultaneously). This article establishes a motive-based typology of state participation in international illicit flows, illustrated with current and historical examples. By focusing on why states may engage in illicit flows, I argue that there are four broad archetypes of state participation: direct revenue generation, indirect revenue generation, procurement, and territorial control. While the risks can be significant, state participation can drastically improve an illicit transaction’s chance of succeeding. Furthermore, many states that are heavily involved in illicit flows have little to lose even if their involvement is uncovered. This typology provides differentiation meant to enhance the study of state participation in illicit flows.


Black Market State Participation Nuclear Program Illicit Trade Nonstate Actor 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of SustainabilityArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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