Nigerian organized crime has become influential in transnational illegal activities only recently. It can be traced to the collapse of oil prices in the early 1980s and the subsequent problems that this caused for an economy that relied on oil exports for 95 percent of its earnings. This resulted in a number of well-educated Nigerians, many living in other countries, to be deprived of their primary source of income. This in turn created a wave of individuals turning to crime as a means of supplementing their income.
Nigerian Criminal Enterprises have developed large scale drug trafficking operations that are second only to the Asian triads in their import of heroin into the United States. This has been facilitated by a relatively secure home base, characterized by lack of legislation and law enforcement capacity, as well as political instability, corruption and few sources to devote to fighting organized crime. Further, Nigerian organizations have engaged in extensive fraud and extortion activities, including credit card fraud, and fraudulent activities through commercial banks and government assistance programs.
Nigerian Criminal Enterprises are difficult to infiltrate due to the fact that they operate in a tribal structure. These groups also have little problem accepting menial jobs, which include narcotics trafficking activities, despite a membership that has a generally high level of education.
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