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Volstead Act (1918)
The Volstead Act (Merriman, 2007, p. 280) was created to enforce the 18th Constitutional Amendment, which created the situation commonly known under the umbrella term of prohibition. The main idea of the Act was to ban the production, distribution, and consumption of alcohol. Although the initial idea of this initiative had been positive, aiming at improving the nation’s health and culture, the reality turned out to be less adequate. Different criminal structures took advantage of the situation and started to make big money from selling alcohol and organizing places for its consumption. The Act shaped the culture of the 1920s and changed the relationships between politicians and criminal leaders. For instance, the famous bootlegger Al Capone built a network of speakeasies and alcohol trade channels. He controlled the majority of production sites in the USA. However, he managed to do his business due to bribes that he offered to governmental representatives. This scheme illustrates how the politicians were receiving profit from organized crime structures.
American mafia implemented the organizational structure first introduced in Sicilia and known as the Cupola. It consisted of so-called bosses, who were representing their families. A total of 5 bosses made up the institution (Lupo, 2009, p. 19). The reason for such an initiative is evident since every organized criminal structure needs leaders to govern, protect, and share the zones of influence. However, the organization did not achieve its primary goals due to regular conflicts of power between the members of the institution. It is not surprising that their aim to control the financial flows in the whole country was not satisfied. Although the influence of the mafia in both Italy and the USA was great, it could not shape the local economy to suit their interests.
Organized criminal structures are responsible for the huge development of drug trafficking. Production and distribution of narcotics is a very complicated process. It takes a lot of secrecy to obtain and prepare the required materials, yet publicity is needed to find customers. Organized crime supports this process by making it easier. There are stable supply chains that resemble a real business. Unlike single dealers who first synthesize and then try to sell their product, these structures have a huge market and are sometimes covered by officials like the police. Drug trafficking also affects organized crime. Since it is a business with huge profits, it is a matter of interest of all organized criminal groups. Moreover, conflicts over controlling the drug market sometimes turn into wars that shape the national security situation.
In my opinion, organized crime is something that will always have a place in the world. Considering actions as illegal is only dictated by the current laws. For instance, slavery today is illegal globally, yet it was an acceptable practice in the past. Many people wish to receive huge profits without being subject to laws they do not agree with. Money matters the most in organized crime, and it can influence even those people who are meant to control it. As long as corruption is a common thing in the world, this type of activity will dominate the shadow economics. With the trend of globalization and the spread of the Internet, it is quite likely that the next business area added to the sphere of interests of organized crime could be the informational technologies and data safety.
Lupo, S. (2009). History of the Mafia. (A. Shugaar, Trans.). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Merriman, S. A. (2007). Religion and the law in America: An encyclopedia of personal belief and public policy (Vol. 1). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc.