Disrupting Interdependent Criminal Networks: Reformulation Techniques and Case Studies
Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director
Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Abstract: We study problems that focus on disrupting criminal organizations whose operations require multiple interdependent networks. For example, a transnational criminal organization (TCO) may smuggle contraband across a border in order to sell it, require its members to collect and redistribute the revenues from sales, and then filter a portion of these revenues into a money laundering network in order to route it back to the country of origin of the contraband. It is necessary for the origin points of the contraband to receive money to continue their operations and, further, it is necessary for the demand points to receive contraband in order to generate this money – thus making the operations of these networks dependent on one another.
We present interdiction problems, and effective reformulation techniques, for two special cases of this type of problem: (1) a situation where the criminal organization involves layered information and physical flow networks and (2) the situation where the criminal organization is operating interdependent smuggling, money, and money laundering networks. In both these cases, it is the objective of the attacker of these networks to interdict components so that the best possible operations of the resulting networks is as bad as possible.
We then apply our approaches to “realistic” instances of these problems to provide insights into disrupting such criminal organizations. In particular, our results indicate how and when federal and state law enforcement agencies should partner with city police; when law enforcement should focus on interdicting the physical networks versus the money laundering networks; and the impact of incorrect information on these interdiction efforts.
Bio: Thomas Sharkey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His current research interests are in the area of network optimization and its applications to infrastructure and supply chain resilience, Arctic emergency response, and interdicting illegal supply chains. He is currently part of two interdisciplinary projects that seek to integrate social science methods with Operations Research (OR) to address societal issues. His research has been funded through multiple NSF and DHS grants.