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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. Activities of organized crime include loansharking of money at very high interest rates, assassination , blackmailing , bombings , bookmaking and illegal gambling , confidence tricks , copyright infringement , counterfeiting of intellectual property, fencing , kidnapping , prostitution , smuggling , drug trafficking , arms trafficking , oil smuggling, antiquities smuggling , organ trafficking , contract killing , identity document forgery , money laundering , bribery , seduction , electoral fraud , insurance fraud , point shaving , price fixing , illegal taxicab operation , illegal dumping of toxic waste, illegal trading of nuclear materials, military equipment smuggling, nuclear weapons smuggling, passport fraud , providing illegal immigration and cheap labor, people smuggling, trading in endangered species, and trafficking in human beings.

Organized crime groups also do a range of business and labor racketeering activities, such as skimming casinos, insider trading, setting up monopolies in industries such as garbage collecting, construction and cement pouring, bid rigging, getting "no-show" and "no-work" jobs, political corruption and bullying. The commission of violent crime may form part of a criminal organization's 'tools' used to achieve criminogenic goals for example, its threatening, authoritative, coercive, terror-inducing, or rebellious role , due to psychosocial factors cultural conflict, aggression, rebellion against authority, access to illicit substances, counter-cultural dynamic , or may, in and of itself, be crime rationally chosen by individual criminals and the groups they form.

Assaults are used for coercive measures, to "rough up" debtors, competition or recruits, in the commission of robberies , in connection to other property offenses, and as an expression of counter-cultural authority; [48] violence is normalized within criminal organizations in direct opposition to mainstream society and the locations they control. Bodily harm and grievous bodily harm, within the context of organized crime, must be understood as indicators of intense social and cultural conflict, motivations contrary to the security of the public, and other psychosocial factors. Murder has evolved from the honor and vengeance killings of the Yakuza or Sicilian mafia [51] [52] [53] [54] which placed large physical and symbolic importance on the act of murder, its purposes and consequences, [55] [56] to a much less discriminate form of expressing power, enforcing criminal authority, achieving retribution or eliminating competition.

The role of the hit man has been generally consistent throughout the history of organized crime, whether that be due to the efficiency or expediency of hiring a professional assassin or the need to distance oneself from the commission of murderous acts making it harder to prove liability. This may include the assassination of notable figures public, private or criminal , once again dependent on authority, retribution or competition.

Revenge killings, armed robberies, violent disputes over controlled territories and offenses against members of the public must also be considered when looking at the dynamic between different criminal organizations and their at times conflicting needs. In addition to what is considered traditional organized crime involving direct crimes of fraud swindles, scams, racketeering and other Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act 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 labelled terrorist groups. There is no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition of terrorism. The use of similar tactics by criminal organizations for protection rackets or to enforce a code of silence is usually not labeled terrorism though these same actions may be labeled terrorism when done by a politically motivated group. Organized crime groups generate large amounts of money by activities such as drug trafficking, arms smuggling and financial crime.

Money laundering is bad for international and domestic trade, banking reputations and for effective governments and rule of law. Accurate figures for the amounts of criminal proceeds laundered are almost impossible to calculate, and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering FATF , an intergovernmental body set up to combat money laundering, has stated that "overall it is absolutely impossible to produce a reliable estimate of the amount of money laundered and therefore the FATF does not publish any figures in this regard".

This would make organized crime the third largest business in world after foreign exchange and oil Robinson The rapid growth of money laundering is due to:. The policy aim in this area is to make the financial markets transparent, and minimize the circulation of criminal money and its cost upon legitimate markets. In , the OECD reported the scope of counterfeit products to include food, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, electrical components, tobacco and even household cleaning products in addition to the usual films, music, literature, games and other electrical appliances, software and fashion.

The economic effects of organized crime have been approached from a number of both theoretical and empirical positions, however the nature of such activity allows for misrepresentation. The ability for organized criminals to operate fraudulent financial accounts, utilize illicit offshore bank accounts, access tax havens or tax shelters , [72] and operating goods smuggling syndicates to evade importation taxes help ensure financial sustainability, security from law enforcement, general anonymity and the continuation of their operations.

Identity theft is a form of fraud or cheating of another person's identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person's identity, typically in order to access resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person's name. Victims of identity theft those whose identity has been assumed by the identity thief can suffer adverse consequences if held accountable for the perpetrator's actions, as can organizations and individuals who are defrauded by the identity thief, and to that extent are also victims.

Internet fraud refers to the actual use of Internet services to present fraudulent solicitations to prospective victims, to conduct fraudulent transactions, or to transmit the proceeds of fraud to financial institutions or to others connected with the scheme. In the context of organized crime, both may serve as means through which other criminal activity may be successfully perpetrated or as the primary goal themselves.

Email fraud , advance-fee fraud , romance scams , employment scams , and other phishing scams are the most common and most widely used forms of identity theft, [73] though with the advent of social networking fake websites, accounts and other fraudulent or deceitful activity has become commonplace. Copyright infringement is the unauthorized or prohibited use of works under copyright , infringing the copyright holder's exclusive rights , such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.

Whilst almost universally considered under civil procedure , the impact and intent of organized criminal operations in this area of crime has been the subject of much debate. Article 61 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights TRIPs requires that signatory countries establish criminal procedures and penalties in cases of willful trademark counterfeiting or copyright piracy on a commercial scale. More recently copyright holders have demanded that states provide criminal sanctions for all types of copyright infringement.

Cyberwarfare refers to politically motivated hacking to conduct sabotage and espionage. It is a form of information warfare sometimes seen as analogous to conventional warfare [75] although this analogy is controversial for both its accuracy and its political motivation. It has been defined as activities by a nation-state to penetrate another nation's computers or networks with the intention of causing civil damage or disruption. Deputy Secretary of Defense , states that "as a doctrinal matter, the Pentagon has formally recognized cyberspace as a new domain in warfare.

There is also a clear military, political, or economic motivation. Unsecured information may be intercepted and modified, making espionage possible internationally. The recently established Cyber Command is currently debating whether such activities as commercial espionage or theft of intellectual property are criminal activities or actual "breaches of national security.

Orders and communications can be intercepted or replaced. Power, water, fuel, communications, and transportation infrastructure all may be vulnerable to sabotage. According to Clarke, the civilian realm is also at risk, noting that the security breaches have already gone beyond stolen credit card numbers, and that potential targets can also include the electric power grid, trains, or the stock market. The term "computer virus" may be used as an overarching phrase to include all types of true viruses, malware , including computer worms , Trojan horses , most rootkits , spyware , dishonest adware and other malicious and unwanted software though all are technically unique , [80] and proves to be quite financially lucrative for criminal organizations, [81] offering greater opportunities for fraud and extortion whilst increasing security, secrecy and anonymity.

Worms and Trojan horses, like viruses, may harm a computer system's data or performance. Applying the Internet model of organized crime, the proliferation of computer viruses and other malicious software promotes a sense of detachment between the perpetrator whether that be the criminal organization or another individual and the victim; this may help to explain vast increases in cyber-crime such as these for the purpose of ideological crime or terrorism. It is considered "the first attack on critical industrial infrastructure that sits at the foundation of modern economies," notes the New York Times.

Corporate crime refers to crimes committed either by a corporation i. Note that some forms of corporate corruption may not actually be criminal if they are not specifically illegal under a given system of laws. For example, some jurisdictions allow insider trading.

Labor racketeering has developed since the s, affecting national and international construction, mining, energy production and transportation [86] sectors immensely. Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain.


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Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality , is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by private persons or corporations not directly involved with the government. An illegal act by an officeholder constitutes political corruption only if the act is directly related to their official duties. Forms of corruption vary, but include bribery , extortion , cronyism , nepotism , patronage , graft , and embezzlement.

While corruption may facilitate criminal enterprise such as drug trafficking , money laundering , and human trafficking , it is not restricted to these activities. The activities that constitute illegal corruption differ depending on the country or jurisdiction. For instance, certain political funding practices that are legal in one place may be illegal in another.

In some cases, government officials have broad or poorly defined powers, which make it difficult to distinguish between legal and illegal actions. Worldwide, bribery alone is estimated to involve over 1 trillion US dollars annually. There are suggestions that due to the continuing decline in opium production in South East Asia, traffickers may begin to look to Afghanistan as a source of heroin.

Human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is a major cause of contemporary sexual slavery and is primarily for prostituting women and children into sex industries. See Snakehead gang , Coyotaje. People smuggling is defined as "the facilitation, transportation, attempted transportation or illegal entry of a person or persons across an international border, in violation of one or more countries laws, either clandestinely or through deception, such as the use of fraudulent documents". The number of slaves today remains as high as 12 million [98] to 27 million.

Today, crime is sometimes thought of as an urban phenomenon, but for most of human history it was the rural interfaces that encountered the majority of crimes bearing in mind the fact that for most of human history, rural areas were the vast majority of inhabited places. For the most part, within a village, members kept crime at very low rates; however, outsiders such as 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 preindustrial world what organized crime is to modern society. 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 As Lunde states, "Barbarian conquerors, whether Vandals , Goths , the Norse , Turks or Mongols are not normally thought of as organized crime groups, yet they share many features associated with thriving 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. During the Victorian era , criminals and gangs started to form organizations which would be collectively become London's criminal underworld. One of the most infamous crime bosses in the Victorian underworld was Adam Worth , who was nicknamed "the Napoleon of the criminal world" or "the Napoleon of Crime" and became the inspiration behind the popular character of Professor Moriarty.

Robb and Erin H. Structures are formal and rational with allocated tasks, limits on entrance, and influence the rules established for organizational maintenance and sustainability. Albini saw organized criminal behavior as consisting of networks of patrons and clients, rather than rational hierarchies or secret societies.

The networks are characterized by a loose system of power relations. Each participant is interested in furthering his own welfare. Criminal entrepreneurs are the patrons and they exchange information with their clients in order to obtain their support. Clients include members of gangs, local and national politicians, government officials and people engaged in legitimate business.

People in the network may not directly be part of the core criminal organization. Kinship is seen as the basis of organized crime rather than the structures Cressey had identified; this includes fictive godparental and affinitive ties as well as those based on blood relations, and it is the impersonal actions, not the status or affiliations of their members, that define the group.

Rules of conduct and behavioral aspects of power and networks and roles include the following:. Strong family ties are derived from the traditions of southern Italy, where family rather than the church or state is the basis of social order and morality. One of the most important trends to emerge in criminological thinking about OC in recent years is the suggestion that it is not, in a formal sense, "organized" at all.

Evidence includes lack of centralized control, absence of formal lines of communication, fragmented organizational structure. It is distinctively disorganized.

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For example, Seattle's crime network in the s and 80s consisted of groups of businessmen, politicians and of law enforcement officers. They all had links to a national network via Meyer Lansky , who was powerful, but there was no evidence that Lansky or anyone else exercised centralized control over them. While some crime involved well-known criminal hierarchies in the city, criminal activity was not subject to central management by these hierarchies nor by other controlling groups, nor were activities limited to a finite number of objectives.

The networks of criminals involved with the crimes did not exhibit organizational cohesion. Too much emphasis had been placed on the Mafia as controlling OC.


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  • The Mafia were certainly powerful but they "were part of a heterogeneous underworld, a network characterized by complex webs of relationships. Further studies showed neither bureaucracy nor kinship groups are the primary structure of organized crime, rather they were in partnerships or a series of joint business ventures. All observed networks and a degree of persistence, and there may be utility in focusing on the identification of organizing roles of people and events rather than the group's structure.

    International consensus on defining organized crime has become important since the s due its increased prevalence and impact. It is frequently accomplished through ruthless disregard of any law, including offenses against the person and frequently in connection with political corruption.

    However, violence and corruption and the pursuit of multiple enterprises and continuity serve to form the essence of OC activity. There are eleven characteristics from the European Commission and Europol pertinent to a working definition of organized crime. Six of those must be satisfied and the four in italics are mandatory. Others stress the importance of power, profit and perpetuity, defining organized criminal behavior as:. Definitions need to bring together its legal and social elements. OC has widespread social, political and economic effects.

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    It uses violence and corruption to achieve its ends: It is a mistake to use the term "OC" as though it denotes a clear and well-defined phenomenon. The evidence regarding OC "shows a less well-organized, very diversified landscape of organizing criminals…the economic activities of these organizing criminals can be better described from the viewpoint of 'crime enterprises' than from a conceptually unclear frameworks such as 'OC'.

    OC may appear in many forms at different times and in different places. The understanding of organized crime has therefore progressed to combined internationalization and an understanding of social conflict into one of power, control, efficiency risk and utility, all within the context of organizational theory.


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    The accumulation of social, economic and political power [] have sustained themselves as a core concerns of all criminal organizations:. Contemporary organized crime may be very different from traditional Mafia style, particularly in terms of the distribution and centralization of power, authority structures and the concept of 'control' over one's territory and organization.

    There is a tendency away from centralization of power and reliance upon family ties towards a fragmentation of structures and informality of relationships in crime groups. Organized crime most typically flourishes when a central 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.

    The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Revolutions of in Eastern Europe that saw the downfall of the Communist Bloc created a breeding ground for criminal organizations. 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, putting 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. 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 Angiulo , underboss of the Patriarca crime family.

    Infighting sometimes occurs within an organization, such as the Castellamarese war of —31 and the Boston Irish Mob Wars of the s and s. Today criminal organizations are increasingly working together, realizing that it is better to work in cooperation rather than in competition with each other once again, consolidating power. This has led to the rise of global criminal organizations such as Mara Salvatrucha , 18th Street gang , and Barrio Azteca.

    This rise in cooperation between criminal organizations has meant that law enforcement agencies are increasingly having to work together. This theory treats all individuals as rational operators, committing criminal acts after consideration of all associated risks detection and punishment compared with the rewards of crimes personal, financial etc.

    The role of criminal organizations in lowering the perceptions of risk and increasing the likelihood of personal benefit is prioritized by this approach, with the organizations structure, purpose, and activity being indicative of the rational choices made by criminals and their organizers. This theory sees criminal behavior as reflective of an individual, internal calculation [] by the criminal that the benefits associated with offending whether financial or otherwise outweigh the perceived risks. The benefits of participating in organized crime higher financial rewards, greater socioeconomic control and influence, protection of the family or significant others, perceived freedoms from 'oppressive' laws or norms contribute greatly to the psychology behind highly organized group offending.

    Criminals learn through associations with one another. The success of organized crime groups is therefore dependent upon the strength of their communication and the enforcement of their value systems, the recruitment and training processes employed to sustain, build or fill gaps in criminal operations. Interpersonal relationships define the motivations the individual develops, with the effect of family or peer criminal activity being a strong predictor of inter-generational offending. Under this theory, organized crime exists because legitimate markets leave many customers and potential customers unsatisfied.

    Under these conditions competition is discouraged, ensuring criminal monopolies sustain profits. Legal substitution of goods or services may by increasing competition force the dynamic of organized criminal operations to adjust, as will deterrence measures reducing demand , and the restriction of resources controlling the ability to supply or produce to supply. Sutherland goes further to say that deviancy is contingent on conflicting groups within society, and that such groups struggle over the means to define what is criminal or deviant within society.

    Criminal organizations therefore gravitate around illegal avenues of production, profit-making, protectionism or social control and attempt by increasing their operations or membership to make these acceptable. The ability to effect social norms and practices through political and economic influence and the enforcement or normaliszation of criminogenic needs may be defined by differential association theory. Social disorganization theory is intended to be applied to neighborhood level street crime, [] thus the context of gang activity, loosely formed criminal associations or networks, socioeconomic demographic impacts, legitimate access to public resources, employment or education, and mobility give it relevance to organized crime.

    The Mafia’s Sicilian Roots

    Where the upper- and lower-classes live in close proximity this can result in feelings of anger, hostility, social injustice and frustration. Criminality becomes attractive when expectations of being able to fulfill goals therefore achieving success by legitimate means cannot be fulfilled. This has been used as the basis for numerous meta-theories of organized crime through its integration of social learning, cultural deviance, and criminogenic motivations. It is the inadequate supply of legitimate opportunities that constrains the ability for the individual to pursue valued societal goals and reduces the likelihood that using legitimate opportunities will enable them to satisfy such goals due to their position in society.

    Criminals violate the law because they belong to a unique subculture - the counter-culture - their values and norms conflicting with those of the working-, middle- or upper-classes upon which criminal laws are based.

    Mobster - Jimmy "the Gent" Burke

    This subculture shares an alternative lifestyle, language and culture, and is generally typified by being tough, taking care of their own affairs and rejecting government authority. Role models include drug dealers, thieves and pimps, as they have achieved success and wealth not otherwise available through socially-provided opportunities.

    It is through modeling organized crime as a counter-cultural avenue to success that such organizations are sustained. The alien conspiracy theory and queer ladder of mobility theories state that ethnicity and 'outsider' status immigrants, or those not within the dominant ethnocentric groups and their influences are thought to dictate the prevalence of organized crime in society. Bell's theory of the 'queer ladder of mobility' hypothesized that ' ethnic succession ' the attainment of power and control by one more marginalized ethnic group over other less marginalized groups occurs by promoting the perpetration of criminal activities within a disenfranchised or oppressed demographic.

    Whilst early organized crime was dominated by the Irish Mob early s , they were relatively substituted by the Sicilian Mafia and Italian-American Mafia , the Aryan Brotherhood s onwards , Colombian Medellin cartel and Cali cartel mids - s , and more recently the Mexican Tijuana Cartel late s onwards , Mexican Los Zetas late s to onwards , the Russian Mafia onwards , terrorism-related organized crime Al-Qaeda onwards , the Taliban onwards , and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ISIL s to onwards. Many argue this misinterprets and overstates the role of ethnicity in organized crime. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    For other uses, see Organized crime disambiguation. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. June Learn how and when to remove this template message. Identity theft and internet fraud. Titan Rain and Moonlight Maze.

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    Origins of the Mafia

    White-collar crime and corruption. Rational choice theory criminology.

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