Lecture 9: Organized Crime and Gangs
– extra notes
What is Organized Crime?
The Mafia organizations with their binding ethnic ties or their binding common
interests, have developed rituals, codes of conduct, and secrecy that provide them with
the protection and security to continue as distinctive criminal societies.
refers to those self-perpetuating, structured, and disciplined association of individuals, or
groups, combined together for the purpose of obtaining monetary or commercial gains or
profits, wholly or in part of illegal means, while protecting their activities through
violence or corruption.
Organized Crime has grown steadily more powerful as public
demand has created larger markets for the illicit goods and services supplied by them.
Organized criminals are involved in a wide range of activities, including selling illegal
drugs, extortion, immigration fraud, pornography, international stock and bank fraud,
The most successful organized crime groups are ethnically based.
Some view organized crime in North America as an alliance of crime families,
and the activities of each of these families are firmly controlled by its bosses and by a
commission made up of the men who control its most powerful families (Cressey, 1969).
Others argue that there is no centralized direction or leadership, but rather consists of
local crime gangs, whose activities sometimes lead them to work with other groups.
crimes such as the manufacture, importation, and distribution of illegal drugs, co-
operation and co-ordination are required to get the product to the consumer.
officials and criminals work together, competition is controlled, and there is a stable
climate for illegal activity.
The Roots of Organized Crime
Many of the activities of organized crime result from the demand by the law-
abiding” citizenry for illegal goods and services such as illicit drugs and prostitution.
Governments of most countries have made the production, sale, and possession of these
Those who are prepared to run the risk of breaking the law can charge a
premium for it because competition has been restricted by the laws, forbidding the legal
distribution of the drug.
Elaborate organizations must be established for this type of
activity, including financiers, buyers, sellers, and people to transport the drug across
In order to maintain or increase their share of the market,
organized criminals may use violence to discourage competition.
Violence is also used to
ensure that debts are paid and other obligations are met.
The enormous profits that can
be earned from the illicit market lead to activities such as laundering money to conceal
the source, loan sharking, and investment in legitimate businesses, which then come
under the control of criminal syndicates.
Crimes related to drug trafficking, gambling, prostitution, and pornography