Organized Crime

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Organized crime is different from other types of crime, in that the organization allows individuals to commit crimes of a different variety and on a larger scale, given that organized crime reaches into every facet of business, the economy, and the government. This week, the focus is on organized crime in those areas.

This Week in Relation to the Course

Organized crime has been involved in legitimate and illegal business ventures since its beginning. In the early days, organized crime was involved in Prohibition by selling liquor illegally and running underground drinking establishments, known as speakeasies. As Prohibition ended, members of organized crime became involved in activities such as bookmaking, loan-sharking, gambling, stock frauds, sex, and more. Though certain laws have been passed to help control these activities, such as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, they still exist.

According to scholars, the traditional image of organized crime as the Italian Mafia no longer exists. Groups such as the Russian Mafia have replaced it. Russian-organized crime syndicates in America have brought a new level of sophistication, technical prowess, and ruthlessness to a competent and highly competitive criminal marketplace. The Russian Mafia has access to false documents, unlimited supplies of weapons, professional killers, use of diplomatic and state machinery without parallel, a huge domestic market, and a vast global network. They have plugged into the United States welfare bureaucracy and are terrorizing ethnic communities of Russians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Armenians, and Balts.

In addition, there is a growing awareness that organized crime is a diverse problem that reaches beyond traditional activities, such as the illegal drug trade and prostitution. Organized crime extends into illegal immigration and human trafficking, trafficking in firearms,...
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