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Analyse van het Zuid-Nederlandse xtc-netwerk

Tijdschrift Tijdschrift voor Veiligheid, Aflevering 2 2009
Trefwoorden sociale netwerkanalyse, xtc-netwerk, xtc-handel, crimineel macronetwerk
Auteurs Dr. Toine Spapens
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The social network approach is gaining influence among criminologists studying organized crime and terrorism. The theoretical concept, however, still needs further elaboration. To this end, concepts developed within the field of economic sociology could provide a substantial contribution. Economic sociologists have, among other things, focused on the role of social networks with regard to the completion of economic transactions. They regard mutual trust built through personal relations as an essential part of economic transactions, particularly if these imply certain risks for the parties involved. In other words, before transactions materialize, the parties must first be able to establish trustworthy personal relations. Based on these ideas, Spapens introduced in 2006 the theoretical concept of the criminal macro network, being a social network consisting of individuals able and willing to engage in illegal activities. The capital of each member of the criminal network consists, on the one hand, of his links, defined as information relations, within the network. On the other hand, a person’s position is determined by personal knowledge and skills. It is assumed that executing an actual illegal activity – e.g. drug production, trafficking human beings, bank robbery – requires cooperation between a subset of members of the criminal network, the criminal group.An extensive study of xtc production in the south of the Netherlands between 1996 and 2004 revealed the existence of a ‘xtc network’ consisting of individuals interconnected by social relations. The macro network proved to be relatively stable over time. The composition of the criminal groups, however, changed regularly. This was not only explained by shifting business opportunities, but also by the efforts of the police and the Public Prosecution Service leading to convictions and the dismantling of criminal groups. Better knowledge of the functioning of the criminal macro network can provide valuable contributions to criminological understanding of organized crime. These insights are of course also of great practical importance for law enforcement agencies.


Dr. Toine Spapens
Dr. Toine Spapens is als senior onderzoeker verbonden aan de vakgroep Strafrecht van de Faculteit der Rechtsgeleerdheid aan de Universiteit van Tilburg. Contactadres: Universiteit van Tilburg, Vakgroep Strafrechtswetenschappen, Postbus 90153, 5000 LE Tilburg. E-mail: a.c.spapens@uvt.nl.
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