What is Transnational Crime? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:02 Transnational Crime
  • 0:48 Goods
  • 2:31 Services
  • 3:38 Business & Government
  • 4:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson defines the concept of transnational crime. Along the way, you'll learn about the three major categories of this type of crime and examples of how they occur.

Transnational Crime

Not that long ago in the U.S., you could commit a crime in one state and make your way to another state to safety. The law couldn't reach you in that other state. Not all that long ago, you could commit a crime in one country, go to another country, and be safe there. That's still possible to some extent, but less so every day. This is because governments across the world are working together to tackle transnational crime, crime that involves more than one country in one way or another.

This could mean that the crime is planned in one country, executed in another, but impacts yet a third, or another combination thereof. This lesson goes over examples of transnational crime using the three broad categories of this type of crime.


One such category is that of illicit goods. In other words, producing, transporting, and selling items that are illegal. A great example of this is drug trafficking. For instance, an illegal crop, such as the opium poppy, may be grown in one country, like Afghanistan. It, or a concentrated form of it, may be transported to another country for processing and refinement into an illegal drug, or the country where the crop is grown may do the same. From there, it will be transported to multiple countries around the world, such as the U.S., for sale and further distribution.

Another example of transnational crime involving illicit goods is that of counterfeiting. Without a doubt, one of the most popular currencies to counterfeit, due to its value, is that of the U.S. dollar. Individuals, criminal groups, and even some government actually forge the U.S. currency. They will produce batches of the currency, distribute it within their home country or around the world, and sell it for a steep discount to its proposed value and pocket real money in return. One country known for doing this for illicit purposes is North Korea.

Weapons trafficking is another transnational crime. A weapon (or a counterfeit of one) may be produced in one country, such as Russia or China. From there, the weapons may be sold (by government consent or as a result of corruption) to a country in Africa, for example. Here, the weapons will be used against a country's own civilians or neighboring countries. The planning for the scheme may have occurred in a neutral country. The execution would've occurred in part in the weapon's manufacturing nation and the buying nation. The impact will be widespread, however, as those weapons can be used to harm people in multiple countries.

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