This module is a resource for lecturers

Case studies and exercises

Case Study 1 (Trafficking in Antiquities)

Giacomo Medici, an Italian antiquities dealer, started dealing in antiquities in Rome in the 1960s. He became an important supplier of antiquities to Robert Hecht, an arts dealer in the United States. In 1968, Medici opened a gallery, Antiquaria Romana, in Rome and started to expand his arts business in Switzerland. In 1978, he closed the gallery in Rome and entered into partnership with a Geneva resident, Christian Boursaud. Boursaud was the contact person for Medici's sales at Sotheby's auction in London. According to the Italian authorities, Medici obtained the Euphronios (Sarpedon) krater, a unique wine vessel dating from the 5th century BC, from tombaroli (i.e. tomb robbers) who illicitly excavated it in Cerveteri (north of Rome). In 1972, Robert Hecht, Medici's contact in the USA, sold the krater to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art at the record price of $1million. Immediately following the deal, the Italian authorities were pressing the museum for information on the krater's provenance.

In January 1997, Medici was arrested in Rome, charged with receiving stolen goods, illegal export of goods, and conspiracy to traffic. His trial spans over more than a decade. In 2004, a tribunal in Rome found him guilty of criminal association, receiving stolen goods and illegal export of goods. The judge declared that Medici had trafficked thousands of artefacts, including the sarcophagus fragment that had started the investigation, and the Euphronios (Sarpedon) krater. He was sentenced to ten years in prison and received a €16 million fine. In July 2009, an appeals court in Rome dismissed the charges of illicit export of stolen goods because of the expired limitation period, but reaffirmed the convictions for criminal association and receiving stolen goods. Medici's jail sentence was reduced to eight years and a €10 million fine. Medici's other appeal failed in December 2011.

The evidence recovered during the investigation into Medici's business was instrumental to return precious artefacts to Italy. It also triggered further investigations and ultimately the prosecutions of Robert Hecht and Marion True (of the J. Paul Getty Museum). The court hearings of the case against Hecht and True ended in 2012 and 2010, respectively, as the statute of limitations, under Italian law, for their alleged crimes had expired.

Case-related files

Significant features

  • Illegal trade in antiquities with the involvement of museum curators and auctions
  • Statute of limitation as a challenge for the prosecution

Discussion questions

  • On the basis of the Organized Crime Convention, can it be stated that the Medici case is a case of transnational organized crime? What articles of the Organized Crime Convention are relevant?
  • What are the sources of antiquities and other cultural property in the black market? Who are the tombaroli?
  • What is the role of auctions and art dealers in the illicit trade in cultural property?
  • What kind of challenges did investigators and prosecutors face in this case?
  • What is a statute of limitation? Does the Organized Crime Convention say anything about statutes of limitation in respect to the acts criminalized by the Convention?

Case Study 2 (Organ Trafficking)

Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, a/k/a "Isaac Rosenbaum", 60, pleaded guilty on three counts of acquiring, receiving and otherwise transferring human organs for use in human transplantation; and one count of conspiracy to do the same.

Rosenbaum's convictions are the first under the USA federal statute involving the black market sales of kidneys from paid donors. "Rosenbaum admitted he was not new to the human kidney business when he was caught brokering what he thought was a black-market deal", the prosecutor said. "A black-market in human organs is not only a grave threat to public health, it reserves lifesaving treatment for those who can best afford it at the expense of those who cannot. We will not tolerate such an affront to human dignity."

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Rosenbaum admitted that from January 2006 through February 2009, he conspired with others to provide a service, in exchange for large payments, to individuals seeking kidney transplants by obtaining kidneys from paid donors. Specifically, Rosenbaum admitted to arranging three transplants on behalf of New Jersey residents that took place in December 2006, September 2008 and February 2009. Rosenbaum admitted that he was paid approximately USD 120,000, USD 150,000 and USD 140,000, respectively on behalf of these three recipients.

Rosenbaum's kidney business was exposed through the use of cooperating criminal defendant Solomon Dwek and an undercover agent (UC) who was posing as an employee of Dwek and who told Rosenbaum that her uncle was in need of a kidney transplant. Dwek and the UC first met with Rosenbaum in mid-February 2008 at which time Rosenbaum informed them that "[i]t's illegal to buy and sell organs," but assured them that "I'm doing this a long time." Rosenbaum explained to Dwek and the undercover agent that he would help the recipient and the donor concoct a fictitious story to make it appear that the transplant was the product of a genuine donation and that he would be in charge of babysitting the donor upon the donor's arrival from overseas. Rosenbaum also informed Dwek and the undercover agent that he would charge USD 150,000 to arrange the transplant, explaining that the high price was due in part to payments that would be made to individuals in Israel for their assistance in locating the donor.

Rosenbaum was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in what experts said was the first US federal conviction for profiting from the illegal sale of human organs.

Case-related files

Special features

  • The acquiring, receiving and transferring of human organs

Discussion questions

  • What was Levy Izhak Rosenbaum's role in the criminal conspiracy?
  • Describe a role of a middleman in a criminal organization? What role does it play for transnational criminal networks?
  • Who are the victims in this case?
  • What evidence was provided to prove Rosenbaum's guilt?
  • What does the United Convention against Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto say about organ trafficking? Is organ trafficking a form of human trafficking? Why?

Case Study 3 (Counterfeit 5-Hour Energy)

Joseph Shayota and Adriana Shayota were sentenced to 86 months and 26 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in a conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and to introduce misbranded food into interstate commerce. The criminal conduct began in late 2009 and ran through October 2012. Over 3,700,000 bottles of counterfeit 5-Hour ENERGY were placed in the stream of interstate commerce.

At trial, the evidence demonstrated that the Shayotas, through their company Tradeway International Inc., (doing business as Baja Exporting, LLC), entered into an agreement with Living Essentials, LLC, to distribute 5-Hour ENERGY in Mexico. Living Essentials owns 5-Hour ENERGY and they registered and own all 5-Hour ENERGY trademarks and related copyrights. The company does not grant licenses to any individual or entity to manufacture 5-Hour ENERGY. As part of the distribution agreement, Living Essentials LLC manufactured and provided the Spanish-labelled 5-Hour ENERGY bottles to the Shayotas, who were unable to sell it in Mexico. The Shayotas and their co-conspirators then removed the Spanish-language labels and replaced them with counterfeit English-language labels. They also removed the true lot numbers and expiration dates placed on the bottles by Living Essentials and replaced them with false lot numbers and expiration dates. The Shayotas and their co-conspirators sold this counterfeit-labelled product throughout the U.S.

The evidence at trial demonstrated that by early 2012, the Shayotas and their co-conspirators began to manufacture and sell an entirely counterfeit 5-Hour ENERGY product. They manufactured the counterfeit 5-Hour ENERGY liquid at an unsanitary facility using untrained day workers, and mixed unregulated ingredients in vats in an attempt to mimic the real 5-Hour ENERGY products. The Shayotas and their co-conspirators engaged a plastics manufacturer in Mexico to copy the 5-Hour ENERGY bottles and caps, and recruited co-conspirators in the San Diego area to create counterfeit display boxes and plastic sleeves (bottle labels), which appeared identical to the true boxes and labels. The Shayotas and their co-conspirators also copied true lot numbers and expiration dates from genuine 5-Hour ENERGY and placed those numbers and dates on the counterfeit bottles that they had manufactured.

From approximately December 2011 through October 2012, the Shayotas and their co-conspirators ordered more than seven million counterfeit label sleeves and hundreds of thousands of counterfeit display boxes, and placed false lot and expiration codes on the bottles and boxes. They often changed the lot and expiration codes on the counterfeit bottles and boxes to parallel the valid codes being used on the authentic product.

Case-relates files

Significant features

  • Manufacturing and selling counterfeit drinks

Discussion questions

  • What do you believe is the most efficient way to keep counterfeit products from being manufactured in the first place?
  • What is the best way to keep manufactured counterfeits from being distributed to consumers?
Regional perspective: Eastern and Southern Africa

Case study 4 (Feisal Mohammed Ali - Kenya)

Mr. Feisal Mohammed Ali was charged with offences against the Kenyan Wildlife Conservation and Management Act No 47 of 2013, including possession of and dealing in wildlife trophies of an endangered species, namely 314 pieces of elephant tusks weighing 2152.45 kg without a permit. Interpol had, at one point, placed Mohamed on a list of nine most-wanted suspects linked to crimes against the environment.

The ivory was found at a local warehouse in Mombasa, property of Fuji Motors East Africa Limited. On 5 June 2014, the police seized the ivory and proceeded to arrest four defendants, while Mr. Ali was arrested six months later in Tanzania with the assistance of Interpol.

On 22 July 2016, following a trial in which the prosecution called a total of 23 witnesses, the Principal Magistrate’s Court of Shanzu sentenced Mr. Feisal Mohammed Ali to 20 years imprisonment and a 20 million shillings fine. The other defendants were found not guilty.

Mr. Ali appealed his conviction. On 3 August 2018,the Appellate Court acquitted him on several grounds,ranging from constitutional concerns to irregularities in the original trial.

Case-related files

  • Republic vs Abdul Halim Sadiq Omar & five others (2014). Criminal case No. 1098 of 2014.
  • Feisal Mohamed Ali v Republic (2018). Criminal Appeal No.87 of 2016.

Significant features

  • Leading case that prosecuted first major player in wildlife trafficking reversed
  • Allegations of police misconduct and political pressure
  • Inspired “Project Feisal,” an initiative for court room/trials’ observation and monitoring in Kenya

Discussion questions

  • The appellate magistrate states: It is my finding that a court either has evidence before it or not does not. My understanding is that after the court heard the witnesses in the case, it was left with very many unanswered questions. And contrary [to what] is expected of a court in an adversarial system, it acted as it would if it were in an inquisitorial system where it would go out and fish for evidence to assist the prosecution.
  • Discuss what aspects of the proceedings, as described by the appellate judge, would fit in the inquisitorial model.
  • Feisal’s conviction and later acquittal attracted a lot of attention in Kenya and globally. Research the repercussions of the Feisal’s case in the media. In your opinion: What is positive about the case? What are potentially negative consequences of its outcome?
  • What institutional structures need to be in place to ensure that investigations into wildlife (and other) crime are carried out in a professional manner and enough attention is given to collecting evidence?

Exercise 1 (Heroin Trade in East Africa)

Margarita Dimova’s 2014 essay, A new agenda for policing: understanding the heroin trade in Eastern Africa, analyses the transnational routes used for the transport of heroin in East Africa. A summary is provided below.

Instruct the students to:

Article summary

In recent years, East Africa has been on the limelight for ongoing illicit trade in heroin. Heroin mostly comes from Afghanistan, but organized criminal groups use Pakistan as a transnational dispatching hub through maritime, overland, and air-based routes.

Maritime routes are most preferred. Legitimate commercial cargo vessels ferrying international consignments move heroin into and beyond Kenya. The drugs are also hidden in dhows that do not dock at regional ports but remain in open waters or pass undocumented through small island ports of Kenya (such as Pemba and Shimoni) and Tanzania’s coast. Mombasa’s international Kilindini Harbour has been identified as the primary docking port for most of these consignments, where only one percent of the containers passing through the harbour or stored at the local container freight stations are inspected. Once the heroin reaches the continent, smugglers take advantage of porous border points such as Lunga Lunga between Kenya and Tanzania. Air transport of heroin also merits examination, with Nairobi emerging as a coordination hub for the local market and the nationalities of captured couriers varying considerably.

Regarding the structure of the organizations involved, both size and hierarchy are central elements of analysis. Smuggling and distribution networks based in Kenya revolve around critical figures who act as nodes, connecting their business partners and employees. Networks can be quite expansive, but groups around specific nodes remain compact. A unit or ‘company’ comprises twenty members at the most, and often fewer, and includes peddlers, couriers, packers, stock-keepers, and bosses who coordinate transboundary trafficking and/or wholesale. In the heroin-selling location in the slum of Mathare in Nairobi, for instance, each company has between two and seven dealers, with up to five packers and one or two bosses responsible for securing supply. Vertical integration becomes challenging to ensure as small units are in constant flux within larger, looser networks of supply, storage, and distribution. Therefore, international smuggling is organized by more modest, fluid units, dealing with reduced quantities.

The networks and nodes have distinct organizational characteristics. Chains of command exist, but top-down movements intertwine with lateral ones; units are small and look acephalous, but hierarchical arrangements, albeit fluctuating, persist. Multiple companies do not engage in violent competition as their supply is differently sourced, and no overarching structure controls prices or extorts others. The involvement of key political figures, if any, is of auxiliary rather than organizing nature. Key political figures are more likely to use their office as a platform to facilitate, rather than coordinate the operation of various criminal enterprises.

The author recommends that law enforcers recognize transportation and supply dynamism and shift their focus from the arrest of few alleged kingpins to investigating their business networks. The presence of interpersonal bonds in the organization of smuggling and dealing, including family and kinship ties, some of which have political patronage connections, require more attention. Moreover, counter-narcotics agencies have to expand their monitoring of routes of transhipment beyond known airports and harbours.

Next: Thinking critically through fiction
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