The Evolution Of Organized Crime Essay

  • Length: 8 pages
  • Sources: 6
  • Subject: Law - Enforcement
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #78718392

Excerpt from Essay :

History Of Organized Crime

More than a century of motion pictures and more than a half-century of television productions have created a somewhat romanticized version of organized crime as typified in "The Godfather" series. Indeed, there is even a National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, commonly known as "The Mob Museum" in Las Vegas which is a popular tourist destination (Green, 2013). The reality of organized crime, however, contrasts sharply with any romanticized depiction and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) emphasizes that organized crime is not only prevalent in the United States, it has become far more complex and broader in scope compared to the past. To determine the facts about the history of organized crime, this paper provides a background and overview followed by an analysis of some of the main sources of revenues for these criminal organizations. Finally, the paper concludes with an analysis of current intelligence related methods, and emerging intelligence methods directed at organized crime and a summary of the research and important findings concerning the history of organized crime.

Review and Analysis

Background and overview of organized crime

According to the general definition provided by the FBI, organized crime is "any group having some manner of a formalized structure and whose primary objective is to obtain money through illegal activities" (Organized crime, 2016, para. 4). Clearly, this definition includes an enormous array of activities that subvert the law in some fashion, and frequently include violence as a means of enforcement. Not surprisingly, these criminal organizations have a profoundly adverse effect on the communities in which they operate as well as the state, region, and entire nation (Organized crime, 2016).

While a broad application of the FBI's definition of organized crime suggests that these types of organizations have existed as long as the country, the formal analysis of organized crime only dates back to the early 20th century. Some of the first research into organized crime was conducted as part of the Illinois Crime Survey by John Landesco in 1929 (Kelly & Chin, 1999). This seminal research found that the roots of organized crime could be found the members' community-level social structures. In sum, Landesco determined that, "The members of the crime syndicate came from neighborhoods 'where the gang tradition is old' and where the residents could absorb the attitudes and skills necessary to enter into the world of organized crime" (as cited in Kelly & Chin, 1999, p. 333).

Law enforcement authorities first started to specifically target organized crime in 1967 when the New York City Police Department's Italian branch commander grew concerned over the Black Hand's extortion of the local Italian community and their natural reluctance to cooperate in any investigation (Kelly & Chin, 1999). In an ill-fated response, the police commander planned to examine Sicilian police records to discover any grounds for deporting Black Hand leaders; however, the leaders learned about the plan and the police commander was assassinated (Kelly & Chin, 1999). The Black Hand leader who was suspected of ordering the assassination was having dinner with an...
...Three-quarters of a century later, organized crime remains a nationwide problem that has required a multi-faceted enforcement strategy. As Kelly and Chin concludes, "The business of organized crime continued and continues apace, as do the law enforcement efforts to combat it" (1999, p. 333).

As noted in the introduction, the general public's perception of organized crime contrasts sharply with the reality today. Organized crime has become a transnational phenomenon and many of the criminal organizations operating in the U.S. today are involved with criminal activities that transcend the conventional views about the Mafia. In this regard, Kelly and Chin (1999) point out that, "Asked to define organized crime,' many ordinary citizens would conjure up a vision of Mafia or La Cosa Nostra (LCN), and the popular image is not limited to the public" (p. 334). In fact, this skewed perception of organized crime even influenced the manner in which the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations ("RICO") Act was framed in 1970 (Kelly & Chin, 1999). As a result, initial law enforcement efforts were almost all focused on Italian-Sicilian organizations; however, by 1987, federal authorities began to include other ethnic groups including South and Central Americans and Asians (Kelly & Chin, 1999).

Today, other ethnic groups have become the focus of law enforcement efforts to combat organized crime, including the following:

• Russian mobsters who fled to the U.S. in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse;

• Groups from African countries like Nigeria that engage in drug trafficking and financial scams;

• Chinese tongs, Japanese Boryokudan, and other Asian crime rings; and, • Enterprises based in Eastern European nations like Hungary and Romania (Organized crime, 2016, para. 4).

Each of these criminal organizations is active in the United States and the Internet has facilitated the development of sophisticated networks between formerly disparate groups that recognize the benefits of cooperation. For instance, Calderon (2015) emphasizes that, "Transnational organized crime operates through intricate nets of complicity. The activity of criminal organizations related with smuggling drugs, weapons, and even humans, transcends borders" (p. 52). Moreover, continuous reinvestment of the proceeds of organized crime activities into legitimate businesses has further fueled the proliferation and growth (Musumeci, 2014). Although the full economic impact of organized crime is difficult to assess, current estimates place the figure at approximately $1 trillion annually on a global basis (Organized crime, 2016).

Although the broad definition of organized crime used by the FBY can include virtually any criminal enterprise intended to generate illegal profits, the specific practices that are included in the RICO Act include the following federal-level crimes:

• Bribery;

• Sports Bribery;

• Counterfeiting;

• Embezzlement of Union Funds;

• Mail Fraud;

• Wire Fraud;

• Money Laundering;

• Obstruction of Justice;

• Murder for Hire;

• Drug Trafficking;

• Prostitution;

• Sexual Exploitation of Children;

• Alien Smuggling;

• Trafficking in Counterfeit…

Sources Used in Documents:


Calderon, F. (2015, Summer). Drug trafficking and organized crime: Connected but different. Harvard International Review, 36(4), 52-55.

Drug trafficking. (2016). United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved from https://

Green, M. (2013, October 1). How the Mob (Museum) was won: Building a history of organized crime in the U.S. UNLV Gaming Research & Review Journal, 17(2), 101-104.

Kelly, R. J. & Chin, K. L. (1999). Handbook of organized crime in the United States. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

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