Guns for Hire: North America’s Intra-Continental Gun Trafficking Networks

Christian Leuprecht and Andrew Aulthouse | Criminology, Criminal Justice, Law & Society | 2014

Since Canada adjoins the largest weapons market in the world, it is unsurprising that guns used to commit criminal acts in Canada largely originate in the United States. But how are such weapons transported across the border: by individual entrepreneurs, by small networks, or by sophisticated cartels? This article analyzes six cases that resulted in prosecutions of 40 Canadian and American citizens implicated in Canada-U.S. gun trafficking networks between 2007 and 2010. This study is a plausibility probe that applies social network analysis-investigating networks that come into existence by the creation of pairwise links among their members-to analyze global structures, identify brokers and their roles, and discover patterns in the way guns are being procured in the United States, transported across the border, and distributed in Canada. In the process, this study generates hypotheses about network structure and works towards modeling these networks functionally: Since guns are available legally in the United States, we expect to find a proliferation of relatively simple networks. In contrast, drugs, which are not as readily available, might require more sophisticated networks to be trafficked across the border. Results revealed that the trafficking network structures seem to be driven by function. When the objective of the network is mere rent-seeking, transborder trafficking networks for guns tend to be simple. By contrast, when the objective is to manage violence as a constituent element of a larger criminal organization and its activities, networks tend to be more sophisticated, although the gun trafficking networks remain simpler.

Guns for Hire: North America's Intra-Continental Gun Trafficking Networks