Shadow supply chains and criminal networks

Günther Maihold
DOI number

Additional info: In: Daniel Brombacher, Günther Maihold, Melanie Müller, Judith Vorrath (Eds.): Geopolitics of the Illicit. Linking the Global South and Europe. Baden-Baden: Nomos, p. 53-82.

The second chapter by Günther Maihold investigates the connection between shadow supply chains and criminal markets. He challenges the assumption of a “geographical convergence of illicit flows and criminal networks” in which transnational networks of organised crime “have cast a net of contacts and cooperation around the globe that the authorities are not able to control”. By using an approach that focuses on various stages of different shadow supply chains, the author is able to show that the individual actors are more diffusely linked and often less connected than the literature suggests. While there are linkages between powerful actors at various points, there are also different supply chain linkages that are less entangled and follow a cost-benefit logic of the actors. This chapter thus sheds light on the role of actors who are often less in the focus of discussions on supply chains but who are key connection points in transnationally organised shadow supply chains: intermediaries, trans porters and criminal diasporas. To minimise the risk of shadow supply chains being established, the author suggests a number of instruments for de-risking supply chains. This could be achieved by market players making their supply chains more transparent and establishing closer relationships with their trading partners.


Günther Maihold

German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)

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