Organized crime

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Organized crime or mafia is crime carried out systematically by formal criminal organizations. The Organized Crime Control Act (U.S., 1970) defines organized crime as "The unlawful activities of ... a highly organized, disciplined association...".

Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are politically motivated. Mafias are criminal organizations whose primary motivation is profit. Gangs sometimes become "disciplined" enough to be considered "organized". 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 Act (RICO), Statute (18 U.S.C. Part I Chapter 96 §§ 1961-1968).

Organized crime, however defined, is characterized by a few basic qualities including durability over time, diversified interests, hierarchical structure, capital accumulation, reinvestment, access to political protection and the use of violence to protect interests.

Such criminal organizations flourish throughout the world by supplying (or sometimes only appearing to supply) services the legitimate economy cannot provide.

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[edit] Overview

Criminal organizations keep illegal actions secret, and members communicate by word of mouth, telephone, or Internet. Many organized crime operations have substantial legitimate businesses, such as licensed gambling, building construction, trash hauling, or dock loading enterprises, which operate in parallel with and provide cover for drug trafficking, money laundering, prostitution, extortion, hijacking, fraud, and insider trading, among many other possible criminal activities.

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, threats, or a combination.

Financing is made easier by the development of a customer base inside or outside the local population, as occurs for instance in the case of drug trafficking.

In addition, criminal organizations also benefit if there is social distrust of the government or the police. As a consequence, criminal organizations sometimes arise in closely-knit immigrant groups who do not trust the local police. Conversely, as an immigrant group begins to integrate into the wider society, this generally causes the organized crime group to weaken.

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 newly-opened markets, and quick to rebuild themselves under another guise when caught by authorities.

Globalization occurs in crime as much as it does in business. Criminal organizations easily cross boundaries between countries. This is especially true of organized groups that engage in human trafficking.

The only 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 policeforces and law enforcement agencies in general operate on a national level while the Internet makes it even more simple for criminal organizations to cross boundaries and even to operate completely remotely.

[edit] Non-traditional organized 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.

[edit] Typical organized crime activities

Organized crime can be categorized:

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:

de:Organisierte Kriminalität et:Organiseeritud kuritegevus es:Crimen organizado fr:Crime organisé he:פשע מאורגן lt:Organizuotas nusikalstamumas nl:Georganiseerde misdaad ja:組織犯罪 sk:Podsvetie fi:Järjestäytynyt rikollisuus sv:Organiserad brottslighet

Organized crime

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