According to me, organized crime can be described as a group of people whether employed or non-employed who makes money through illegal activities such as extortion, corruption, drug syndicates, and other forms of force. Most of the times they make money by spreading fear and intimidation throughout the community where no one dares to challenge their authority. Some places, members from an organized crime gang protect the locals from other criminals, whereby subscription to contributions monthly is mandatory whether they need the protection or not. They are feared by the people who live around them as most of the times they use force and other forms of heinous activities to ensure their authority is felt.
Most of the times organized crimes tend to be more concentrated on those goods and services that have high public demand such as protection in the ghettos which are usually prone to crime and transport facilities which has to be used by every one.. It is a well-known fact that in some areas organized crime works through the protection of senior people in the administration. There has been allegations that senior people in the government benefit from illegal proceeds of these groups thus protects them from scrutiny.
In some instances as it has happened with the Al-Qaeda, organized crime can be described as an organization made of several people who come together with their main aim being to attack another group, community or a country contrary to what many thinks. This form of organized crime seeks no financial benefits but they attack either to show remorse about certain views or vengeance towards the other group. These groups go about their activities without or with little fear of the law.
Experts in crime control have had a rough time in trying to define what organized crime is and how it can be distinguished from corporate crimes. Some criminologists argue that “Any distinction between organized and White-collar crime may be artificial in as much as both involve the important elements of organization and the use of corruption and/or violence to maintain immunity” (Walsh & Hemmens, Pg 492, 2008).
Corporate crime in some cases is similar to organized crime in that in the genuine sense, corporations are organizations and if the employees decide to commit a crime, it would be described somehow as organized crime. The difference comes along because corporate crimes are created from the opportunities available in the company and are organized through legitimate activities whereas members of an organized crime are accomplished or potential criminals even before they enter the groups organized around creating criminal opportunities.
In his book Organized Crime and American Power, Woodiwiss, (2001) describes organized crime simply as a systematic criminal activity that seeks for money and power. He goes further to indicate that organized crime involves different range of activities from terrorism, piracy, banditry, forgery, and even trade on stolen goods. According to United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention (UNCIPC) (n.d), organized crime has been defined as the situation when three or more people form a group during a certain period and being ruled by a previous agreement come together with their main aim being to commit a crime in which in the end they will obtain either material or financial benefit from the act. The UN document goes further and indicates that the crime thrives best through bribery acts, infiltration of the government agencies at all levels and even sometimes in the political arena.
Abadansky, (1990) describes organized crime as a “Non-ideological enterprise involving a number of persons in close social interaction, organized on a hierarchical basis with at least three levels/ranks for the purpose of securing profit and power by engaging in illegal and legal activities” (6).
The positions in the hierarchy sometimes may be filled according to relationship or skill of the individual. These positions are not dependent on the occupant and permanence is assumed by the members who strive in keeping the group integral and active in achieving its goals, (Abadinsky, 1990).
Perceptions of organized crime have changed in the United States for the last 100 years when originally the organized Crime syndicate was made of criminals of Italian descent, The Mafia, but with the Mafia groups almost extinct, new forms of organized crimes have arisen and with the technological and organizational advancement, organized crime has grown global with survival strategies changing from penetration of institutions to corruption and intimidation of state personnel and institutions, (Lyman and Potter, 2007). Technology has also enabled the flexible working and exchange of information of these organized groups and nabbing them by the Interpol police has proved to be difficult.
Organized crime groups strive for monopoly in specific areas and there is usually willingness of using violence if the situation requires it in order to achieve the organization goals or maintain fear and discipline where these groups thrive. Organized crime members usually have a leader who is the center of authority and gives orders on what needs to be done, when, and how. Finally, the groups are bound by rules and enforcement that sometimes can be quite inhuman if one decides to leave the group.
My Perception Compared To the Definitions in the Readings
My opinion compared to those given in the readings agree to some degree because from my perception, organized crime is conducted by groups of people who use force to receive material or financial benefits, and this is in line with the definition given by Abadinsky of the organized groups that seek profits by engaging in illegal activities. However, I never thought organized crimes also can be used for accessing power as Abadinsky further explains whereas in my definition I stated that there is usually use of force in their activities, the definition given by the United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention of using bribes goes in the opposite direction with the use of violence in order to gain the material benefits that these groups strive to achieve. Although the relationship between the members and the group leader may not be well known it is my assumption that the group leader acts as the ring leader who decides where the group should attack and when it should attack.
The perception of permanence among the group leaders and the fact that leadership positions are given according to the efforts of an individual member differs from my definition because the permanence factor did not ring in my mind as an important factor.
Characteristics Associated With Organized Criminal Behavior
The hierarchical structure is among the characters associated to organized crime, as we have seen above in order to accomplish their goals, all players in organized crime function in a hierarchical network with every member carrying his own function. This hierarchical structure usually protects the leadership of the group from direct criminal activity involvement as the subordinates do most of the criminal activities.
Systematic violence and corruption is also associated with organized crime behavior. As we have evidenced, organized crime groups use either bribery and corruption or even pure violence in order to achieve their goals. The extension of illegal activities into the economy is another major characteristic whereby goods solicited through illegal means are sold to the public who buy them due to the fact that they are cheap than the ones existing in the stores.
Organized crime groups also have enormous corruptive potential and influence as most of the people senior in the government are involved in these organized crime groups and finally most of organized crime groups have connection with the legal structures thus arrests and prosecution of these members is not an easy task. Power and profit among organized crime groups is achieved through corruption of public officials.
From the study, we can conclude that organized crime can simply be described as a group or organization of more than two people who seeks material and financial benefits from the society in illegal and forceful manners using all sorts of inhuman activities to achieve their goals. With the legal connections and political influence involved it is hard to control organized crime unless cautious actions are taken right from the top administration.
Abadinsky, H. (1990). American Definition of Organized Crime. Web.
Lyman, M.D., & Potter, G.W. (2007). Organize Crime, 4th Edition. New York: Prentice Hall.
UNCIPC, (Not Dated). Corruption and Organized Crime. Web.
Walsh, A., & Hemmens, C. (2008). Introduction to Criminology. New York: Sage Publications Inc.
Woodiwiss, M. (2001). Organized Crime and American power: A history. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.