Illicit Networks Uncovered Around the Globe



C4ADS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing data-driven analysis and evidence-based reporting on global conflict and transnational security issues. We have partnered with C4ADS for six years, helping analysts use publicly available data to uncover networks and individuals responsible for various forms of trafficking, including illegal weapons transfers, human and wildlife smuggling, and threat financing.

This Year

In the course of their work, C4ADS relies on datasets across languages and jurisdictions around the globe. These include, but are not limited to, publicly available trade data, corporate registries, flight records, and more, with rows running into the billions. C4ADS analysts use Palantir to analyze this data, uncovering criminal activity hidden behind joint ventures, shell companies, or elaborate business constructs. Since 2012, they have used Palantir Gotham to build a data foundation to reveal connections between entities, building complex maps of illicit networks around the world.

This year, as the volume of public data continued to swell, we introduced Palantir Foundry. Foundry turns data analysts into data engineers, enabling them to work with datasets they previously considered too unwieldy to use. Data pipelines that used to crash computers are now easily integrated into Foundry, allowing analysts to find new leads and investigative areas and track suspicious entities across datasets.

Using analysis generated in Palantir, C4ADS published reports on illicit activities around the world. These reports significantly contributed to decisive government action, including tens of millions of dollars in asset recovery, the seizure of 1,300 tons of contraband, and new sanctions or arrests on companies or people engaged in illicit activity with North Korea, Hezbollah, South Sudan, and the DRC. The repercussions go beyond the financial: stopping corrupt South Sudanese officials from fomenting civil war, frustrating North Korean nuclear arms development, and dealing a significant blow to criminal organizations that rely on the ill-gotten gains from money laundering and the ivory trade.

The combination of our solutions has changed what C4ADS can do and how they do it: in the hands of analysts, Foundry and Gotham transform their ability to find criminal activity and connect the dots to reveal and combat sprawling transnational criminal networks.

The Palantir platform, both through Gotham and Foundry, serves as the foundation to my day-to-day analysis - from ingesting and processing large corporate databases for pattern recognition in Foundry to mapping complex threat networks in Gotham. I can analyze data in Palantir to determine high-level trends in space and time, as well as to identify critical nodes.

Just as important, the unified database allows us to spot points of convergence both within and across projects. Our investigations aim to illuminate decentralized, dynamic transnational networks, and Palantir enables us to do just that.

Bridget Connelly, Environmental Crimes Fusion Cell Analyst, C4ADS

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