How do Smuggling and Trafficking Operate via Irregular Border Crossings in the Middle East? Evidence from Fieldwork in Turkey
This article summarizes main trends, issues, actors, and activities regarding the operation and extension of human trafficking and smuggling via irregular border crossings in the Middle East. Its premise is that rather than the obvious involvement of hierarchical mafia‐type organized crime groups, globally articulated networks of locally operating independent, individual groups comprise the essential foundation for human trafficking and smuggling in the region. The available empirical evidence first suggests that elaborating on various aspects of human trafficking and smuggling is a delicate task and any consideration of priorities for data collection and analysis on these activities must start with a clear idea of the information needed and how to obtain that information. Given the highly sensitive nature of trafficking and smuggling issues, there is no simple research practice that can satisfy all these concerns. It is within this context that our analysis here only offers some partial explanation of the complex nature of human trafficking and smuggling in the Middle East. The data used here provide, to the best of our knowledge, the first primary, reliable, and representative information on traffickers and smugglers as they come directly from the narratives of the traffickers and smugglers interviewed.