The Understanding of Organized Crime
Organized crime refers to an enterprise that is non-ideological and consists of several people who interact closely, being organized on the basis of a hierarchy consisting not less than three ranks with prospects of gaining power and profits by being involved in activities that are both legal and illegal. The ranks positions are awarded in terms of friendship or kinship or may be assigned on the basis of skills. The rank positions are independent of the individuals assigned.
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It is the role of members to determine the permanency of the enterprise by striving towards pursuing their goals as well as remaining integral. Based on a territory, the enterprise strives towards being a monopoly and eliminates any form of competition. Violence and corruption is part and parcel of the activities to maintain discipline or to achieve the goals set. In organized crime, there is a restriction of membership. Explicit written or oral rules have to be followed strictly, and breaching them may be followed by murder or other penalties such as sanction. It follows then
that organized crime is not politically oriented; membership is exclusive, is hierarchal, characterized by having a subculture, illegal violence is exceptional, is self-perpetuating, explicit rules govern it, and is monopolistic (Abadinsky, 2010).
The Major areas Concerning the Foundations and Definitions of Organized Crime
Governments, agencies, and laws have tried to define organized crime. The definitions are dependent on individuals, government commissions, the legal profession, and academia. According to the FBI, organized crime is a ‘Continuing criminal conspiracy with an organized structure that is successful because of its use of fear, corruption, and violence. The motivation is greed” (Mallory, 2007). It considers La Cosa Nostra, The Russian Mafia, South American, and Mexican drug cartels, among others, to be organized criminal activities.
How Organized Crime Gained a Foothold in the United States
Organized crime was established in the United States during the 1800s when there was a European immigrant’s influx. There were limited resources for them, and there were cultural and language barriers prompting them to be aggregated or clustered into groups to console each other and lived as close neighbors. The cultural cohesion and lack of jobs formed gangs and engaged in crime to make ends meet.
The organized gangs were initially established in large cities such as Chicago, Boston, and New York and were based on ethnicity. The many opposing gangs thrived under the wave of the industrial revolution, where burglary and theft have continued to thrive. The ‘Mafia’ is the name used to mean many clandestine organizations in the U.S. and has thrived in reality and movies irrespective of the efforts bestowed towards their termination by the FBI (Leong, 2007).
How Organized Crime Groups Sought to Influence Government
During the 1920s, the prohibition era formed the basis of organized crime in the United States, where the federal government was fiercely enforcing the law by using raids. Prohibition entailed a ban on the manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcohol in the U.S. However, this made illegal alcohol available to people through organized syndicates that had national as well as international connections. There were anti-gang wars that led to grisly killings. After the prohibition was withdrawn in nineteen thirty-three, organized gangs had to get involved in other illegal activities such as gambling, labor racketeers, and narcotics trafficking (Mallory, 2007).
The Organization of Organized Crime Groups in the Post-Prohibition Era
The post-prohibition era saw gangs seeking political connections and was well aware that inter-gang attacks were a disadvantage. Therefore, there formed the Syndicate led by Louis Kepke Buchalter and Lucky Luciano, which was well organized and more cohesive. It has geographical limits, shared profits, and enforced the rules through murder. The Syndicate leaders were convicted, and this seemed to be the remedy for the gang to be terminated.
However, the hydra was still thriving, headed by new people who were concealed behind legitimate enterprises but indirectly involved with the gang. The Racketeer influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) passed by Congress in 1970 aimed at neutralizing the negative effects of the Mafia on the economy. The kingpin is the defendant who can be persecuted and imprisoned, and the illegal activity is racketeering, according to RICO (Leong, 2007).
The local police are interconnected with the criminal gangs making it a challenge to end them. Today, organized crime assumes a multinational corporation, which is a clear indication that it has conquered the multinational market. Organized crime has risen to a new level and involves illegitimate activities done as a syndicate such as using threat, identity theft, smuggling, online extortion, illegal gambling, pornography, loan-sharking, interstate theft, prostitution, narcotics, insurance fraud, hijacking, among others.
Abadinsky, Howard. (2010). Organized Crime. 9 Ed. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company.
Leong, Angela. (2007). The Disruption of International Organized Crime: An Analysis of Legal and Non-legal Strategies. Hampshire, England: Ashgate Publishing Limited.
Mallory, Stephen. (2007). Understanding Organized Crime. London: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Inc.