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Organized crime

Organized crime
Organized crime or criminal organizations comprise groups or operations run by criminals, most commonly for the purpose of generating a monetary profit. The Organized Crime Control Act (U.S., 1970) defines organized crime as "The unlawful activities of [...] a highly organized, disciplined association [...]". Mafia is a term used to describe a number of criminal organizations around world. The first organization to bear the label was the Sicilian Mafia, known to its members as Cosa Nostra. In the United States, "the Mafia" generally refers to the Italian-American Mafia. Other organizations described as mafias include the Russian Mafia, the Chinese Triads, the Albanian Mafia, the Japanese Yakuza, the Neapolitan Camorra, the Mexican Mafia , and the French "Milieu". Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are politically motivated (see VNSA). Gangs sometimes become "disciplined" enough to be considered "organized". An organized gang or criminal set can also be referred to as a mob. The act of engaging in criminal activity as a structured group is referred to in the United States as racketeering. In the U.S., organized crime is often prosecuted federally under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Pirates, highwaymen and bandits attacked trade routes and roads, at times severely disrupting commerce, raising costs, insurance rates and prices to the consumer. According to criminologist Paul Lunde, "Piracy and banditry were to the pre-industrial world what organized crime is to modern society."[2] Organized crime is deeply linked to the moral problem of integrating subcivilized energy into civilized state building. The early Christian world was dubious about an unqualified legitimacy of nation-states. St. Augustine famously defined them as what would now be called kleptocracies, states founded on theft: "If justice be disregarded, what are states but large bandit bands, and what are bandit bands but small states? ... Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, ’What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you who does it with a great fleet are styled emperor.’"[3] A later North African writer, Ibn Khaldun, observing the predatorial conquests of the Mongol leader Tamerlane in the 14th century, developed a theory of state formation based on the periodic conquest of civilized states by barbarians, who are quickly acculturated by urban life, lose their warlike qualities and succumb in turn to conquest by yet another wave of barbarians[3]. As Lunde states, "Barbarian conquerors, whether Vandals, Goths, Norsemen, Turks or Mongols are not normally thought of as organized crime groups, yet they share many features associated with successful criminal organizations. They were for the most part non-ideological, predominantly ethnically based, used violence and intimidation, and adhered to their own codes of law."[4]

Origins and conceptual background
"If we take a global rather than strictly domestic view, it becomes evident even crime of the organized kind has a long if not necessarily noble heritage. The word ’thug’ dates to early 13th-century India, when Thugs, or gangs of criminals, roamed from town to town, looting and pillaging. Smuggling and drug-trafficking rings are as old as the hills in Asia and Africa, and extant criminal organizations in Italy and Japan trace their histories back several centuries..."[1] Today, crime is thought of as an urban phenomenon, but for most of human history it was the rural world that was crime-ridden.


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Although medieval feudal lords were not usually engaged in what moderns would consider "criminal activities" (except for irregular robber barons, self-enthroned Viking adventurers, and mercenary "free company" leaders), their hierarchical courts, monopoly of violence, extension of protection to their serfs in exchange for labor and a percentage of harvests and durability are structurally similar to classic organized crime groups like the Mafia. In the modern world, it is difficult to distinguish some corrupt and lawless governments from organized crime gangs. These regimes, characteristic of some of the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union, use the state apparatus to control organized crime for their own ends.

Organized crime
criminal organizations rather than the police to handle disputes and protect the community. The existence of a black market, either due to market failure or to legal impediments, also tends to promote the formation of criminal organizations as well. An example of this would be the rise in organized crime under Prohibition in the United States during the 1920s. Lacking much of the paperwork that is common to legitimate organizations, criminal organizations can usually evolve and reorganize much more quickly when the need arises. They are quick to capitalize on newlyopened markets, and quick to rebuild themselves under another guise when caught by authorities. This is especially true of organized groups that engage in human trafficking. The newest growth sectors for organized crime are identity theft and online extortion. These activities are troubling because they discourage consumers from using the Internet for e-commerce. E-commerce was supposed to level the playing ground between small and large businesses, but the growth of online organized crime is leading to the opposite effect; large businesses are able to afford more bandwidth (to resist denial-of-service attacks) and superior security. Furthermore, organized crime using the Internet is much harder to trace down for the police (even though they increasingly deploy cybercops) since most police forces and law enforcement agencies operate within a local or national jurisdiction while the Internet makes it easier for criminal organizations to operate across such boundaries without detection. In the past criminal organizations have naturally limited themselves by their need to expand. This has put them in competition with each other. This competition, often leading to violence, uses valuable resources such as manpower (either killed or sent to prison), equipment and finances. In the United States, the Irish Mob boss of the Winter Hill Gang (in the 1980s) turned informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He used this position to eliminate competition and consolidate power within the city of Boston which led to the imprisonment of several senior organized crime figures including Gennaro "Jerry" Anguilo underboss of the Patriarca crime family. Infighting sometimes occurs within an organization, such as the

Organized crime dynamics
In order for a criminal organization to prosper, some degree of support is required from the society in which it lives. Thus, it is often necessary to corrupt some of its respected members, most commonly achieved through bribery, blackmail, and the establishment of symbiotic relationships with legitimate businesses. Judicial and police officers and legislators are especially targeted for control by organized crime via bribes. Organized crime most typically flourishes when legitimate government and civil society is disorganized, weak, absent or untrusted. This may occur in a society facing periods of political, economic or social turmoil or transition, such as a change of government or a period of rapid economic development, particularly if the society lacks strong and established institutions and the rule of law. Under these circumstances, criminal organizations can operate with less fear of interference from law enforcement and may serve to provide their "customers" with a semblance of order and predictability that would otherwise be unavailable. For similar reasons, organized crime also often takes root in many countries among ethnic minority communities or other socially marginalized groups whose members may not trust local governments or their agents. This lack of trust serves both to insulate the criminal organization from the risk that law enforcement will find cooperative witnesses, as well as to encourage community members to trust the


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Castellamarese war of 1930–31 and the Boston Irish Mob Wars of the 1960s and 1970s.

Organized crime

Notable criminal organizations
Perhaps the best known criminal organizations are the Sicilian and American Cosa Nostra, most commonly known as the Mafia. The Neopolitan Camorra, the Calabrian ’Ndrangheta and the Apulian Sacra Corona Unita are similar Italian organized crime groups. Other organized criminal enterprises include the Russian Mafia, the Israeli Mafia, the Albanian Mafia, Mexican and Colombian Drug Cartels, the Indian Mafia, the Chinese Triads, Irish Mob, the Japanese Yakuza, the Jamaican-British Yardies, the Turkish Mafia and other crime syndicates. On a lower level in the criminal food chain are many street gangs, such as the Surenos, Nortenos, Latin Kings, MS-13, Gangster Disciples, Vice Lords, Bloods and Crips. As of December 2008, there is rumored to be a large war in the American underworld between various Italian-American Mafia families and the U.S. Yakuza Outfit. Criminal organizations may function both inside and outside of prison, such as the Mexican Mafia, Folk Nation, and the Brazilian PCC. Biker gangs such as the Hells Angels are also involved in organized crime. World leaders throughout history who have been accused of running their country like a criminal organization include Adolf Hitler of Germany, Idi Amin of Uganda, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Nicolae Ceauşescu of Romania, Francisco Franco of Spain, Hugo Banzer of Bolivia, Kim Jong Il of North Korea, Slobodan Milošević of Serbia and Yugoslavia, Alberto Fujimori of Peru (in league with his advisor Vladimiro Montesinos), Than Shwe of Burma (also known as Myanmar) and various other dictators and military juntas. Corrupt political leaders may have links to existing organized crime groups, either domestic or international, or else may simply exercise power in a manner that duplicates the functioning and purpose of organized crime.

Mugshot of Charles Luciano in 1936, Sicilian mobster. Today criminal organizations are increasingly working together, realizing that it is better to work in cooperation rather than in competition with each other. This has led to the rise of global criminal organizations such as Mara Salvatrucha. The Sicilian Mafia in the U.S. have had links with organized crime groups in Italy such as the Camorra, the ’Ndrangheta and the Sacra Corona Unita. The Sicilian Mafia has also been known to work with the Irish Mob (John Gotti of the Gambino family and James Coonan of the Westies are known to have worked together, with the Westies operating as a contract hit squad for the Gambino family after they helped Coonan come to power), the Japanese Yakuza and the Russian Mafia. The FBI estimates that global organized crime makes $1 trillion per year. This rise in cooperation between criminal organizations has meant that law enforcement agencies are increasingly having to work together. The FBI operates an organized crime section from its headquarters in Washington and is known to work with other national (e.g. Polizia di Stato and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police), federal (e.g., Drug Enforcement Administration and the United States Coast Guard), state (e.g., Massachusetts State Police Special Investigation Unit and the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation) and city (e.g., New York Police Department Organized Crime Unit and the Los Angeles Police Department Special Operations Division) law enforcement agencies.

Human rights law
Another use of the term "criminal organization" exists in human rights law and refers to an organization which has been found guilty of crimes against humanity. Once an organization has been determined to be a criminal


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organization, one must only demonstrate that an individual belonged to that organization to be punished and not that the individual actually individually committed illegal acts. This concept of the criminal organization came into being during the Nuremberg Trials. Several public sector organizations of Nazi Germany such as the SS and Gestapo were judged to be criminal organizations, while other organizations such as the German Army High Command were indicted but acquitted of charges. This conception of criminal organizations was, and continues to be, controversial, and has not been used in human rights law since the trials at Nuremberg.

Organized crime
money laundering, providing illegal immigration workers to avoid taxes, and tax evasion. Organized crime groups seek out corrupt public officials in executive, law enforcement, and judicial roles so that their activities can avoid, or at least receive early warnings about investigation and prosecution, and engage in bribery, corruption, infiltration, informants, Police corruption, and political corruption.[5][6] Organized crime groups also provide a range of illegal services and goods, such as loansharking of money at very high interest rates, bookmaking and gambling, extortion, prostitution, drug trafficking, gunrunning, providing murder for hire, illegal dumping of toxic waste, people smuggling and trafficking in human beings . Organized crime groups also do a range of business and labor racketeering activities, such as skimming (casinos) , insider trading information, setting up monopolies in industries such as garbage collecting, building, construction, and cement pouring violations, bid rigging, blackmail, bullying, getting "no-show" and "no-work" jobs, , Advance-fee fraud, Art theft, bank fraud, bank robbery, bid rigging, bribery, burglary, car cloning, cargo theft, cheque fraud, child grooming, child labour, child pornography, crimes against humanity, embezzlement, false statement, forgery, fraud, hijacking, Human trafficking, inside trading, insurance fraud, jewelry theft, kidnapping, larceny, labour racketeering, loansharking, mail fraud, money laundering, mortgage fraud, murder, organized retail crime, Police corruption, political corruption, perjury, Pornography, price fixing, prostitution of children, racketeering, securities fraud, shell company, sports betting,suicide bombing, tax evasion, illegal telephone tapping, terrorism, torture, war crimes, wire fraud, and ideological clamping.

Ideological crime
In addition to what is considered traditional organized crime involving direct crimes of fraud swindles, scams, racketeering and other RICO predicate acts motivated for the accumulation of monetary gain, there is also non-traditional organized crime which is engaged in for political or ideological gain or acceptance. Such crime groups are often labeled terrorist organizations and include such groups as Al-Qaeda, Animal Liberation Front, Earth Liberation Front, Hamas, Hezbollah, Irish Republican Army, Lashkar e Toiba, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and Taliban.

Typical activities
Organized crime often victimize businesses through the use of extortion or theft and fraud activities like hijacking cargo trucks, robbing goods, committing bankruptcy fraud (also known as "bust-out"), insurance fraud or stock fraud (inside trading) and white collar crime. Organized crime groups also victimize individuals by car theft (either for dismantling at "Chop shops" or for export), burglary, credit card fraud, identity theft, and stock fraud ("pump and dump" scam). Some organized crime groups defraud national, state, or local governments by bid-rigging public projects, counterfeiting money along with counterfeiting of copyrighted, trademarked goods, and of intellectual property, price fixing, smuggling or manufacturing untaxed alcohol (bootlegging) or cigarettes (buttlegging), fence (criminal), match fixing, pier theft, point shaving, pornography,

See also
• • • • • • • • • Assassination Arms trafficking American Mafia Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Camorra Chechen mafia Contract killing Counterfeit Crime in Chicago


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• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Crimes against humanity Crime in New York City Crimestoppers Criminal tattoo DEA Dictator Drug Cartel Extremist Five Families FBI French Connection Gang Hells Angels human rights law Indian Mafia Informant Irish Mob Italian organized crime Jacky Imbert List of criminal organizations List of Mafia crime families Mafia, Mob Mafia-Camorra War MS-13 Omertà outlaw motorcycle gang Palermo Convention Paramilitary Piracy Prison gang Raubwirtschaft Racket RICO Rum running Russian Mafia Secret Service Terrorism Timeline of organized crime Transnational organized crime Triad society Yakuza United States Marshals Service Vendetta War Crimes White Collar Crime Winter Hill Gang

Organized crime

[2] [3] [4] [5]


from Al Capone to Tony Soprano. New York: Life Books, 2002 Paul Lunde, Organized Crime, 2004 ^ [1], additional text. Paul Lunde, Organized Crime, 2004 "In the real world of limited resources, we know that we can only detect, investigate and prosecute a small percentage of those officials who are corrupt FBI and Internal affairs." — U.S. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft". 3387.htm. Retrieved on April 18 2008. "I remain convinced that there is no more important area in the fight against corruption than the challenge for us within the law enforcement and justice sectors to keep our own houses clean. — U.S. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft" (PDF). 123456789/1619/1/ Attorney+General+John+D.+Ashcroft%27s+Remark Retrieved on April 18 2008.

External links
• BBC radio series on global crime (including audio files) • UN Office on Drugs and Crime — Subsection dealing with organized crime worldwide • Organized Crime Research — Has a vast collection of definitions of organized crime, reviews of books on organized crime, research papers, and other material • Extensive page of links relating to organized crime • Hungary emerges as base for foreign organized crime groups Jane’s Intelligence Review, July 2006 • Organized crime killings shock Ireland • Crimestoppers — Pass on information about crime anonymously to the crimefighting charity

[1] Sullivan, Robert, ed. Mobsters and Gangsters: Organized Crime in America,

Retrieved from "" Categories: Crimes, Illegal occupations, Social issues, Organized crime


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Organized crime

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