04 October 2013

New Types of Organized Criminal Operations in Timor-Leste

ETLJB 04 October 2013 - Mahein’s Voice (Mahein Nia Lian) Report No. 60 examines the new types of organized criminal activities occurring in Timor-Leste.  The report is a follow-up to Fundasaun Mahein’s blogpost on organized crime’s increase of civilian recruitment published in September.  This latest report provides an in-depth overview of the current structural network of organized crime in Timor-Leste and the activities they are carrying out.

Fundasaun Mahein (FM) highlights the inconsistency between the increasingly large Timore-Leste State Budget and Timor’s lack of capacity to implement the activities outlined in the budget.  Members of organized crime see this lack of capacity as an opportunity that is ripe for their exploitation.  The evidence for this can be seen in the continually increasing instances of violent organized crime.  As detailed in FM’s previous blog post, the increased presence of organized crime within Timor-Leste has been marked by an increase in theft, murder, and sexual assault.  While it initially seemed as if women were the primary targets, it is now clear that criminal cells are targeting victims indiscriminately.

Recent high profile cases include the kidnapping of a young couple at Tasi-Tolu who were forced to perform sexual acts on camera, as well as the abduction and gang-rape of a woman taking a taxi near the US embassy.  The most recent case occurred in the past couple of weeks, when two men went around Dili on a motorbike attacking people randomly on the road with a machete.  Two people were injured and one was killed as a result.

This report also provides a detailed description of the organizational structure of criminal networks operating in Timor-Leste.  At the top of the organized crime network are actors FM has named the “Intellectuals”.  These are the criminal masterminds that provide instruction, funds, training, and other resources to the organized criminal network working under them.  Directly under the “Intellectuals” are the “Executive Leaders”, who are regional commanders of organized criminal networks.  “Executive Leaders” are responsible for recruiting their immediate subordinates called “Operators”, who are directly responsible for seeing that operations designated by the “Executive Leaders” are carried out successfully.  In turn, “Operators” recruit “Execution Teams”, each of which is led by a designated “Executor”.  These teams are comprised of Timorese youth who are provided with drugs, transportation, weapons, or any other resources needed to complete their assignments.  The “Execution Teams” currently operate mainly in the Dili area.

Fundasaun Mahein has identified the names of several “Execution Teams” in this report: Kibata, Monster, Dewa Mabuk, and Mager, among others.  The organizational structure of these criminal networks is well disciplined and funded.  The chain of command is structured so that each level is only in contact with and aware of the commander immediately above them (for example, “Operators” are in contact with the “Executive Leader” above them but have no knowledge of the existence of the “Intellectuals”).   Additionally, different “Execution Teams” are not in contact with each other.

Recommendations:

1.)  Recommend that the state needs to strengthen the capacity of national intelligence gathering, so that they can monitor and better understand organized crime.  As a result, the state will be able to more effectively prevent the short and long-term consequences of organized crime, and will be able to advise state-actors on effective responses to crime.

2.)  Recommend to all government ministers to act in solidarity to prevent young people from being recruited into organized crime networks.  Given the vast underlying problems responsible for pushing young Timorese towards involvement with organized crime, this is not a task that should be delegated to only the Ministry of Defense.  Many other ministries should collaborate in response to the this issue, including but not limited to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Education, Labor, Social Solidarity, and the State Secretary for Women and Equality.

3.)  Recommend that the government authorize Chefi Suku (village chiefs) to monitor citizens in their villages.  They should report any suspicious activity or persons to the PNTL in their district. 

4.)  Recommend that police increase their presence and visibility in areas know for organized criminal activity with regular patrols and monitoring.  If people encounter trouble they should be urged to notify the police immediately. Source: Fundasaun Mahein Press Release 03 October 2013 Edited by Warren L. Wright
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