While organised crime comes in a variety of guises, in this paper we argue that organised crime in the Pacific can be best framed as a nexus between political elites and seemingly licit actors. We argue that three changes over the past two decades have made it increasingly likely that the relationship between politics and organised crime is likely to strengthen. The first is the systematic weakening of crime prevention and oversight institutions – which is often contributed to by powerful politicians. The second is the increasing and often unregulated transnational movement of goods (including contraband), money and people associated with deepening globalisation, including intensified levels of extractive enterprise in some countries. The shifting nature of politics and international diplomacy across the Pacific is the third key trend we identify. We argue that these factors in combination are making it more difficult for elements of the political class to resist, and be investigated for, links to organised criminals.