Detecting criminal organizations in mobile phone networks

E Ferrara, S Catanese, P De Meo, and G Fiumara.
Expert Systems with Applications, 4:5733-5750, (2014).

Useful links: Journal Page | Arxiv | PDF.

The study of criminal networks using traces from heterogeneous communication media is acquiring increasing importance in nowadays society. The usage of communication media such as phone calls and online social networks leaves digital traces in the form of metadata that can be used for this type of analysis.


The goal of this work is twofold: first we provide a theoretical framework for the problem of detecting and characterizing criminal organizations in networks reconstructed from phone call records. Then, we introduce an expert system to support law enforcement agencies in the task of unveiling the underlying structure of criminal networks hidden in communication data. This platform allows for statistical network analysis, community detection and visual exploration of mobile phone network data.


It allows forensic investigators to deeply understand hierarchies within criminal organizations, discovering members who play central role and provide connection among sub-groups. Our work concludes illustrating the adoption of our computational framework for a real-word criminal investigation.