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What Are the Different Types of Organized Crime?

Organized crime is commonly associated with gambling houses.
Organized crime is known for making huge profits from drug smuggling.
The Italian mafia is the most famous organized crime group.
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  • Written By: Elizabeth West
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 14 April 2014
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Countless films have been made about organized crime, but real crime syndicates are far less glamorous. They range from highly structured criminal enterprises down to motorcycle and street gangs. These groups run gambling, prostitution, pornography activities, and numerous financial scams such as fraud, money laundering, and protection rackets. They are tight-knit and secretive, and law enforcement has traditionally had difficulty infiltrating them.

Groups like the Italian mafia, the Russian mob, and Asian enterprises have established operations in other countries as well. They perpetrate financial scams, identity theft, health care fraud, and are active in human trafficking. Profits are laundered through shell companies, on prepaid credit cards, and even through banking systems to offshore accounts. These criminals are traditionally violent and will harm anyone who interferes with them.

Organized crime involvement in pornography tends to be ownership-related rather than actual production. Infiltrating the industry and controlling distribution allows criminals to rake in profits from payoffs. Since there will always be a demand for some kind of pornography, the syndicate in control will be assured of continuing income. Prostitution, while illegal, offers the same kind of guaranteed income because people will pursue it even if they risk arrest and prosecution.

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The Italian mafia is perhaps the most famous organized crime group. Drug smuggling, loan sharking, and money laundering make huge profits, although kidnapping, extortion, sports bribery, and weapons trafficking are not unheard of. La Cosa Nostra, which means "our thing" in Italian, has long been involved in labor racketeering. The pension and health funds of labor unions provide them with a rich source of embezzlement income.

Street gangs and outlaw motorcycle gangs are other widespread organized crime operations. They have thousands of members and cultivate ties with international crime syndicates. These gangs operate on local, regional, and national levels, and are primarily involved in drug and weapons trafficking. In some areas, criminal gangs are responsible for 80% of crime. The retail-level drug trade is almost entirely run by these gangs.

Law enforcement response should be comprehensive, with multiple agencies exchanging critical information used to infiltrate organized crime groups. International cooperation is also important to counteract Internet crime taking place offshore. Skilled investigators and experienced prosecutors expert in cybercrimes, forensic accounting, and other specialties can develop strong cases that will facilitate incarceration of criminals. Lawmakers can often tighten banking, commerce, and securities to prevent syndicates from making a profit in the first place.

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Discuss this Article

literally45
Post 5

@donasmrs-- I have no idea how income relates to organized crime, but I thin that organized crime occurs in wealthy places as well. It's probably more about supply and demand than anything else. If there is a demand for drugs, gambling, prostitution, etc., organized crime is likely to supply it.

My family is from the Mediterranean and the town that they are from is basically run by mafia. The weird part is that law enforcement knows about it but they are unable to do anything or they don't want to do anything. Some law enforcement have relatives in the mafia. The other weird part is that these people are not poor. The soil there is very productive and the locals make a lot of money from farming. But they don't give up their criminal activities. It's really odd.

donasmrs
Post 4

Street gangs are also becoming more common now, especially in poverty stricken urban areas in the US. Young kids are pressured to join these gangs so that they can make some money for themselves and their families. Organized crime seems to develop in places where people have low income.

fBoyle
Post 3

The Italian mafia is the most well known but I think that mafia exists in most countries. And they all engage in the same types of activities.

For example, mafia is a theme in many Indian films. It is often referred to as the "underworld." But it's not just a film topic, it's also a reality. It is widely discussed for example that the Indian mafia has links with Bollywood, the biggest Indian film sector. There are also theories about Indian mafia links with businessmen in the Middle East. Dubai is thought to be an important ground for Indian mafia groups.

It's difficult for regular people like us to know details of organized crime groups. Law enforcement knows best about them.

Acriverati
Post 2

In the United States, organized crime spread in the 1920s due to the laws prohibiting the production, distribution, and sale of alcohol. During Prohibition, which lasted 13 years, people wanted to drink even though alcohol was illegal. Crime syndicates found it profitable to supply booze to a thirsty public, and several famous mobsters including Lucky Luciano and Al Capone first rose to power as bootleggers.

Markerrag
Post 1

The relationship between organized crime and law enforcement is fascinating. Advances in law enforcement methods and even technology have often been a direct result of the necessity of rooting out criminal enterprises.

After all, you wouldn't have had Eliot Ness and his Untouchables without the need to crack down on Al Capone and his criminal enterprises during the height of prohibition, right? Also, you wouldn't have laws regulating the sale of components commonly used in methamphetamine manufacture today without the need of law enforcement to put a stop to organized criminals making and selling that stuff.

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