Definition of Organized Crime
Organized crime is a group of individual criminals who come together to form a larger criminal organization. These organizations use sophisticated methods to commit illegal activities for profit, including extortion, fraud, money laundering, and drug trafficking. Organized crime groups usually have a hierarchical structure and are often involved in activities that cross national boundaries, making them difficult to eradicate. They use violence and intimidation to impose their control and protect their interests.
Organized Crime Activities
Organized crime activities are criminal activities that are planned, coordinated, and conducted by individuals or groups that have a hierarchical structure and operate for financial gain. These activities are typically sophisticated and well-funded operations that involve engaging in a variety of illegal activities. Some common examples of organized crime include extortion, racketeering, money laundering, drug trafficking, human trafficking, fraud, smuggling, and cybercrime (Kleemans & van Koppen, 2020). Extortion is a form of organized crime involving the threat of violence or harm to obtain money, property, or services from an individual or business. The perpetrator may threaten to damage property or a person unless paid ransom. Organized criminal groups, such as the Mafia, often perpetrate this crime.
Racketeering is a type of organized crime activity that involves engaging in a pattern of illegal activities in order to generate a profit. This type of crime is often associated with organized crime syndicates and is often used to finance other criminal activities. Common racketeering activities include bribery, fraud, counterfeiting, and money laundering. Money laundering is an organized crime involving concealing the origins of illegally obtained money to make it appear as though it was obtained legally (Kleemans & van Koppen, 2020). This crime is often perpetrated by organized criminal groups and is used to finance other criminal activities. Common money laundering techniques include using shell companies, offshore bank accounts, and complex financial transactions.
Drug trafficking is a form of organized crime involving the illegal production, distribution, and sale of drugs. This crime is often perpetrated by organized criminal groups and is used to finance other criminal activities. Common drugs trafficked include cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine (Kleemans & van Koppen, 2020). Human trafficking is a form of organized crime involving the recruitment, transportation, transfer, and exploitation of people for forced labor or sex. This crime is often perpetrated by organized criminal groups and is used to finance other criminal activities. Common victims of human trafficking include women and children.
Fraud is a type of organized crime activity that involves deceiving or cheating someone in order to gain a financial or personal advantage. Fraud is often perpetrated by organized criminal groups and is used to finance other criminal activities. Common types of fraud include identity theft, credit card, and investment fraud. Smuggling is an organized crime activity involving the illegal transportation of goods across international borders (Kleemans & van Koppen, 2020). Common goods smuggled include drugs, weapons, and stolen goods.
Cybercrime is a type of organized crime activity that involves the use of computers and the internet to commit crimes. Cybercrime includes identity theft, phishing scams, and malware attacks. Organized crime activities are a major problem in many parts of the world (Kleemans & van Koppen, 2020). These activities are often sophisticated, well-funded operations that involve engaging in a variety of illegal activities in order to generate a profit. The most common examples of organized crime include extortion, racketeering, money laundering, drug trafficking, human trafficking, fraud, smuggling, and cybercrime.
Criminal Organizations Operating in the United States
The Latin Kings is a criminal organization of mostly Hispanic and Latino members. They are involved in illegal activities such as drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, extortion, and robbery (Procida, 2011). They are known for their highly organized structure and strict code of conduct. The Gambino Crime Family is one of the most powerful crime families in the United States. Their activities include extortion, loan sharking, illegal gambling, money laundering, fraud, and drug trafficking. They are known for their authoritarian leadership and ability to control a large organized crime network.
The Crips are a street gang that originated in Los Angeles, California. They are involved in drug dealing, weapons trafficking, extortion, robbery, and murder (Procida, 2011). They are known for their strong organizational structure, their ability to use violence to control territory, and their use of graffiti to mark their territory. The Hells Angels are a motorcycle gang with chapters located throughout the United States. They are involved in drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, extortion, and robbery. They are known for their violent and intimidating behavior, ability to recruit new members, and ability to evade law enforcement agencies.
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal law enacted in 1970 as part of the Organized Crime Control Act. It was designed to combat organized crime by allowing the government to prosecute individuals for engaging in criminal activity as part of an ongoing enterprise. The act provides civil and criminal penalties for individuals and organizations violating its provisions (Charles & Stockham, 2022). The RICO Act enables the U.S. government to prosecute individuals or organizations for various criminal acts, including murder, extortion, bribery, fraud, and money laundering. It also allows prosecutors to charge individuals and organizations with racketeering, a form of organized crime.
The RICO Act has been used to target various criminal organizations, including the Mafia, drug cartels, and street gangs. It has also been used to target corrupt politicians, public officials, and fraudulent businesses. The RICO Act has been used to prosecute individuals and organizations for various crimes, including drug trafficking, counterfeiting, and racketeering (Charles & Stockham, 2022). In addition, the act has been used to seize property and assets belonging to individuals and organizations involved in criminal activity. The RICO Act has combatted organized crime and gangs by providing law enforcement with a powerful tool to prosecute criminal activity. It has allowed the government to successfully prosecute criminals who have engaged in a pattern of criminal activity and dissuade others from committing similar crimes.
Cases Involving RICO
Case 1: United States v. Turkette (1981)
The case was the first time the U.S. government successfully used the RICO Act in court. The defendants were members of a criminal organization known as the “Turk” gang, who were accused of engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity (United States v. Turkette, 1981). The court found that the defendants had been committing bribery, extortion, gambling, loan-sharking, and drug trafficking and convicted them of violating RICO.
Case 2: United States v. White (2011)
The case involved the RICO violations of two members of the Bloods street gang in Las Vegas. The defendants were accused of engaging in organized criminal activity, including drug trafficking, extortion, and money laundering. They were convicted of multiple RICO violations, and the court ordered them to pay restitution and forfeit their gang-related assets.
Law Enforcement Battle
Law enforcement is well-equipped to win the battle against organized crime and gangs. With the use of modern investigative techniques and the implementation of laws such as the RICO Act, law enforcement has effectively disrupted and dismantled organized criminal organizations.
Reduction and elimination of the organized crime and gang problem in the United States requires a focus on prevention and intervention strategies. Programs such as youth mentorship and educational initiatives can help reduce at-risk behaviors and the likelihood of individuals becoming involved in organized crime and gangs. Law enforcement agencies must continue to use modern investigative techniques and collaborate with other agencies to identify and prosecute criminals involved in organized crime and gangs.
Charles, D. M., & Stockham, A. J. (2022). The Federal Bureau of Investigation: History, Powers, and Controversies of the FBI [2 volumes]. In Google Books. ABC-CLIO. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=5r9uEAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA387&dq=Racketeer+Influenced+and+Corrupt+Organization+(RICO)+Act&ots=tY7mw81wlO&sig=BonbZKRKSXm1qJkhAaAO8rZFhPg
Kleemans, E., & van Koppen, V. (2020). Organized Crime and Criminal Careers. Crime and Justice. https://doi.org/10.1086/707318
Procida, B. (2011, November 5). Making Trumps Out Of The Bloods, Crips, and Latin Kings. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2011/10/05/making-trumps-out-of-the-bloods-crips-and-latin-kings/
United States v. Turkette. (1981). United States v. Turkette, 452 US 576 – Supreme Court 1981 – Google Scholar. Google.com. https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=16065141503685643527&q=United+States+v.+Turkette+(1981)&hl=en&as_sdt=2006