Cops Across Borders: The Internationalization of U.S. Criminal Law Enforcement

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Cops Across Borders: The Internationalization of U.S. Criminal Law Enforcement

By Ethan A. Nadelmann
Penn State Press, 1993
524 pp. $55.00

This pioneering and prodigiously researched work examines how U.S. law enforcement agencies cope with transnational crime in jurisdictions where their legal powers are nonexistent. The answer is largely seen in terms of the transnational esprit de corps of foreign police agencies, whose willingness to cooperate often surmounts the formal jurisdictional hurdles. Nadelmann has a fascinating historical survey of U.S. law enforcement activities abroad (particularly instructive to students of U.S.-Mexico relations), but the main emphasis of the work is on the great expansion of such efforts in the last two decades, largely in response to the war on drugs. He shows that U.S. law enforcement techniques have had a profound effect on criminal justice systems around the world, so much so that he speaks of their "Americanization." European legal systems, for example, that once looked with suspicion on the agent provocateur and other sorts of undercover operations have now generally yielded to American techniques. The work contains little in the way of normative judgments or policy prescriptions. Given Nadelmann's known objections to the war on drugs, this gives the book an odd character, quite as if the Rev. Pat Robertson were to attempt a detached scientific analysis of the production values in Last Tango in Paris. This oddity apart, however, the work superbly charts a hitherto neglected terrain lying at the intersection of U.S. foreign policy and law enforcement.

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