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Criminology Organized Crime
by
Jay S. Albanese

Introduction

Organized crime is a continuing criminal enterprise that works to profit from illicit activities that are often in great public demand. Organized crimes can be grouped into three broad categories: provision of illicit goods, illicit services, and infiltration of business and government. Organized crimes are distinct from traditional crimes (such as larceny and assault) because they involve planning, multiple participants, and require corrupt measures such as threats to maintain and protect their ongoing criminal activities.

General Overviews

There are a number of texts that provide general overviews of transnational crime. Albanese 2007 offers a systematic typology of organized crimes, together with an explanation of causation and investigation, prosecution, defense, and sentencing issues. Other texts by Abadinsky 2009, Grennan and Britz 2005, Lyman and Potter 2006, and Mallory 2007 approach organized crime by the type of group involved, or geographic region, and focus more on descriptions of different groups and their activities than on investigative response. Nearly all these books offer at least one chapter applying criminological theory to organized crime and on transnational organized crime, and all are directed toward the undergraduate or beginning graduate-level reader.

  • Abadinsky, Howard. 2009. Organized crime. 9th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.

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    A mainstream organized crime text with more than half the book discussing the histories of specific groups, plus three chapters on historical summaries of different types and past incidents of organized crimes.

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  • Albanese, Jay S. 2007. Organized crime in our times. 5th ed. Newark, NJ: LexisNexis.

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    A book designed as a textbook overview of organized crime with significant attention to a distinct typology of organized crimes, investigative, prosecution, defense, and sentencing tools. Unique chapters are included on the role of conspiracy in organized crime and on paradigms of organized crime.

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  • Grennan, Sean, and Marjie T. Britz. 2005. Organized crime: A worldwide perspective. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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    A book focused exclusively on different types of organized crime groups with unique chapters on supremacist groups and Hispanic gangs.

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  • Lyman, Michael D., and Gary W. Potter. 2006. Organized crime. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

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    A textbook treatment of organized crime is provided, with unique chapters on organized crime in the American South; also included is the relationship between organized crime and political/corporate connections.

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  • Mallory, Stephen. 2007. Understanding organized crime. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

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    An introductory textbook on organized crime with the majority of chapters focusing on specific organized crime groups with two separate chapters on Colombian and Mexican drug cartels.

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Data Sources

There is no single comprehensive source of data on organized crime; for many offenses, there is no data at all. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Reports gather annual arrest data for gambling, drugs, stolen property, and prostitution offenses, but these reports do not distinguish between organized crime–related instances and less serious individual incidents (Federal Bureau of Investigation 2008). There have been few efforts to count or gather systematic data on other organized crimes such as conspiracy, racketeering, or extortion, or to establish the extent to which organized crime is behind other offenses such as murder or corruption. Nevertheless, there is growing interest in developing more reliable data on organized crime to determine what social, economic, and technological factors might promote organized crime and how governments may better assess the impacts of their efforts. Meslo, et al. 2009 describes a pilot effort in the European Union to develop better measures of organized crime. Tilley and Hopkins 2008 conducted a victimization survey of English businesses in three high-crime city neighborhoods to assess patterns of organized crime victimization and the extent to which businesses were invited to participate in organized crime. Cejp 2009 reports on the characteristics of organized crime groups in the Czech Republic based on statistical data and interviews. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2006 developed regional estimates of human trafficking based on secondary sources. The United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention 2000 reports on a typology of organized crime groups developed from a survey of forty selected organized criminal groups in sixteen countries. Albanese 2008 and Vander Beken 2004 describe emerging efforts to use existing data sources to develop risk assessments of organized crime activities.

  • Albanese, Jay S. 2008. Risk assessment in organized crime: Developing a market and product-based model to determine threat levels. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 24:263–273.

    DOI: 10.1177/1043986208318225Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Proposes a model to measure the risk of organized crime, focusing on illicit markets rather than groups; offers an alternative method for determining the presence of organized crime in areas that may or may not have a history of organized crime.

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  • Cejp, Martin. 2009. Organised crime in the Czech Republic in 2006 compared with developments between 1993 and 2005. Trends in Organized Crime 12:30–58.

    DOI: 10.1007/s12117-008-9044-ySave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Based on expert testimony from the Czech police and statistical data, a report is presented on trends in organized crime in the Czech Republic; the report includes characteristics of organized crime groups, involvement of women, nationalities of those involved, and their criminal activities in an effort to map trends over time.

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  • Federal Bureau of Investigation. 2008. Uniform crime reports.

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    Annual summary statistics of crime reports to police in the United States for eight offenses and arrests for twenty-nine offenses. Very little descriptive offender data is provided, so it is not a useful source for determining organized crime involvement in the crimes reported.

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  • Meslo, Gorazd, Bojan Dobovsek, and Zelimir Kesetovic. 2009. Measuring organized crime in Slovenia. Problems of post-Communism 56:58–62.

    DOI: 10.2753/PPC1075-8216560205Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Summary of a joint European Union–Europol project initiated in Belgium, Sweden, and Slovenia which assesses past efforts to measure organized crime and explains a new methodology currently being tested that focuses on the conditions that produce organized crime, rather than on law enforcement responses.

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  • Tilley, Nick, and Matt Hopkins. 2008. Organized crime and local businesses. Criminology and Criminal Justice 8:443–459.

    DOI: 10.1177/1748895808096469Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Suggests that the nature of organized crime varies widely among high-crime neighborhoods, invitations to participate in organized crime are common, and the police perceive higher levels of organized crime that affect businesses than the survey finds. Victims, local police, and community representatives were surveyed.

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  • United Nations Centre for International Crime Prevention. 2000. Assessing transnational organized crime: Results of a pilot survey of 40 selected organized criminal groups in 16 countries. Trends in Organized Crime 6:44–93.

    DOI: 10.1007/s12117-000-1014-ySave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A survey of forty selected organized criminal groups in sixteen countries and one region in an attempt to both build the knowledge base on organized crime groups and provide a comparative framework for the study of this phenomenon. The data resulted in a typology of organized criminal groups.

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  • United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 2006. Trafficking in persons: Global patterns.

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    A report on UN efforts to estimate the extent of human trafficking in world regions using secondary sources.

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  • Vander Beken, T. 2004. Risky business: A risk-based methodology to measure organized crime. Crime, Law and Social Change 44:471–516.

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    Concerns the results of two studies on measuring organized crime, based on the operating principle of the spectrum of enterprise and application of a risk-based methodological process to the overall framework. The proposed methodology consists of environmental scanning, analysis of organizations and counter strategies, and licit and illicit sector analysis.

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Biographies

There are many biographies and autobiographies of organized crime figures, many of whom are affiliated with Mafia groups. A number of these are journalistic accounts, but they are useful in tracing the development of criminal careers in organized crime. These biographies also provide context for understanding the Mafia lifestyle, motivations, and criminal careers. Both Carlo 2008 and DeStefano 2008 describe the lives of career criminals who rose to become bosses of a Mafia group in New York, and who ironically both ended up as government informants. Maas 1999 provides a fascinating life history of Sammy Gravano, a street hoodlum who ultimately became underboss to John Gotti. Pileggi 1990 gives an account of the life of Henry Hill that was dramatized in the film Goodfellas. In each of these two books, the story of the subject’s rise from the neighborhoods to his fall as a professional criminal is well told. DeMeo 2003 tells the story of a second-generation mob member and how he was drawn into the lifestyle, which is similar to that of Bill Bonanno (Bonanno 2000), son of Joe Bonanno, the only Mafia “boss” to write an autobiography (Bonanno 2003). Weis 2004 tells the story of a how a young accountant, Louis Pascuito, got himself involved with organized crime through stock frauds. He was pressured by organized crime figures for a percentage of the profits until he was caught and turned against them.

  • Bonanno, Bill. 2000. Bound by honor: A mafioso’s story. New York: St. Martin’s.

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    Written more than fifteen years after his father’s autobiography (Bonanno 2003), this autobiography reveals the lives and perceptions of figures in organized crime. Although a college-educated American, Bonanno explains how he still ended up living the life of an organized crime figure.

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  • Bonanno, Joseph. 2003. A man of honor: The autobiography of Joseph Bonanno. New York: St. Martin’s.

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    An immigrant from Italy, Bonanno provides a detailed history of Italian American organized crime in New York and his role in it. Originally published in 1983.

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  • Carlo, Philip. 2008. Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia boss. New York: William Morrow.

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    Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso was boss of New York’s Lucchese Mafia family. His criminal career is described, including his participation in more than fifty murders. The book’s author lived next door to Casso for a time. Casso was involved in selling drugs, robbing banks, and trafficking in stolen goods.

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  • DeMeo, Albert. 2003. For the sins of my father: A Mafia killer, his son, and the legacy of a mob life. New York: Broadway.

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    Written by the son of Roy DeMeo, a mobster murdered in 1982, the book recounts a childhood in a world of violence, money, and power. Albert was an associate of his father, working for the Gambino crime group. Describes his love and loyalty but also the horrifying acts he committed.

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  • DeStefano, Anthony. 2008. King of the godfathers. New York: Citadel/Kensington.

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    The biography of Joey Massino, a Bonanno family boss in New York City. Detailed description is offered of his associates and his brother-in-law Sal Vitale, who later informed on Massino. Multiple mob associates became informants against one another in a federal case against Massino, ending with Massino’s own defection.

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  • Maas, Peter. 1999. Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano’s story of life in the Mafia. New York: HarperCollins.

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    The biography of Sammy Gravano, known for being John Gotti’s underboss in the New York City Mafia. The book recounts Gravano’s childhood and offers insights into his criminality. Gravano’s crimes set the stage for his becoming a government informant and entering the witness protection program.

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  • Pileggi, Nicholas. 1990. Wiseguy. New York: Pocket Books.

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    Henry Hill’s story told from childhood through adulthood about his initiation into the Mafia. Hill began running errands for Mafia associates in Brooklyn and later participated in organized crime of all kinds. Later he became a government informant and entered the witness protection program. Basis for the movie Goodfellas.

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  • Weiss, Gary. 2004. Born to steal: When the Mafia hit Wall Street. New York: Warner.

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    An account of Louis Pasciuto, who was arrested at age twenty-five and then became an informant. He went from being a gas station attendant to a Wall Street stockbroker, thriving on his uncanny ability to lie, exaggerate, and scheme in selling fraudulent stocks.

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Mafia Histories

There is enduring, worldwide interest in the Mafia, which intensified with the popularity of The Godfather books and award-winning movies in the early 1970s, and continued through the many mob trials in the United States and Italy beginning in the 1980s. The Mafia is generally defined as Italian American organized crime, although there is disagreement whether these groups first came to America from Italy, or whether the organization of Italian Mafia groups imitated American groups. There are many books by historians, criminologists, and journalists that focus on specific historical periods. These works often feature particular personalities, cities, periods of time, or incidents. Paoli 2003 and Saviano 2007 describe Mafia groups in Italy, focusing on more recent events, whereas Albini 1971 and Smith 1975 critically evaluate the nature of what we believe the Mafia to be and what it actually is. Raab 2006 provides a contemporary history of the five Mafia “families” in New York City; Anastasia 2003 offers a similar contemporary history of the Scarfo group in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, while Russo 2003 covers the history of organized crime in Chicago. Giancana 2007 compiles old dossiers and photos that offer an overview of government information on organized crime over the years.

  • Albini, Joseph L. 1971. The American Mafia: Genesis of a legend. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

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    The first sociological inquiry challenging prevailing notions of the Mafia. Using archival data and interviews in Italy and the United States, Albini examines the Mafia’s history, finding a loose network of mafioso who provided the private protection that legal authorities could not, rather than a formal organization called the Mafia.

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  • Anastasia, George. 2003. Blood and honor: Inside the Scarfo mob, the Mafia’s most violent family. Philadelphia: Camino.

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    The author is a well-known journalist focusing on organized crime. This account is based on interviews with Nick Caramandi, a confessed murderer and associate of Scarfo, who became a government witness and whose testimony helped convict members of the group.

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  • Giancana, Sam. 2007. Mafia: The government’s secret file on organized crime. New York: HarperCollins.

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    A book of old dossiers and photos of more than eight hundred alleged Mafia figures in the United States organized by state, containing a name index and links among criminal associates. The contents are taken from old law enforcement files. Gianaca wrote the foreword.

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  • Paoli, Letizia. 2003. Mafia brotherhoods: Organized crime, Italian style. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    A study of the Mafia in Italy, relying on historical research and the confessions of former Mafia members who became government informants; the author finds the consolidation of local political power a major factor in understanding the mob’s activities, motivations, and structure.

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  • Raab, Selwyn. 2006. Five families: The rise, decline, and resurgence of America’s most powerful Mafia empires. New York: St. Martin’s.

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    A detailed journalistic account of the history and current status of five New York City Mafia groups: Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese. Describes not only their history and major leaders but also their illicit activities and law enforcement and public reaction over the years.

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  • Russo, Gus. 2003. The outfit: The role of Chicago’s underworld in shaping modern America. London: Bloomsbury.

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    A history of organized crime in Chicago is presented in great detail, illustrating how many of its scams, carried out over forty years, also involved members of the establishment. Many major mob personalities and incidents are placed in the historical context of their ambition to succeed as immigrants.

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  • Saviano, Roberto. 2007. Gomorrah: A personal journey into the violent international empire of Naples’ organized crime system. New York: Macmillan.

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    Investigative journalist’s examination of Naples, Italy, conducted through personal observations and interviews. Shows how the Camorra controls the business of clothing manufacturing, drugs, construction, and toxic waste disposal.

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  • Smith, Dwight. 1975. The Mafia mystique. New York: Basic Books.

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    A critical history of the Mafia in the United States. Focuses on how government perceptions of organized crime resulted in laws and policies that corresponded to a mythical grand hierarchy of criminals, rather than the less formal entrepreneurial operations of organized crime seen in practice.

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Historical Treatments of Other Ethnic, National, and Geographical Crime Groups

Alongside literature on the Mafia, there is a parallel literature consisting of historical and contemporary descriptions of other organized crime groups. These groups are usually identified by their ethnic, national, or geographical derivations. Therefore, there are book-length descriptions and analysis of organized crime by groups of Russian, Asian, Chinese, African American, and Ukrainian origin, usually by authors who spent considerable time in the geographic locations they describe. Glenny 2009 takes a broad and detailed journalistic overview of organized crime in Eastern Europe, as well as other locations around the world, with many detailed interviews. Finckenauer and Waring 2001 focuses on organized crime committed by Russians in the United States, whereas both Varese 2005 and Serio 2008 examine organized crime by Russians in both Russia and the United States. Griffin 2005 provides a social history of African American organized crime in Philadelphia, and McIllwain 2004 does the same for Chinese organized crime in New York at the turn of the twentieth century, while also offering insights about the nature of these enterprises as multiethnic social networks. Redo 2004 offers one of the few existing treatments of organized crime in central Asia. Corrupt governments, long-standing ethnic divides, and a geographical location between major drug-producing centers places Central Asia at high risk for organized crime problems that are identified in this book. Finckenauer and Chin 2006 focuses on eastern Asia, covering China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia. Finally, Finckenauer and Schrock 2004 deals with organized crime in the Ukraine, focusing on the period following the Soviet Union’s collapse. Much of the material about the Ukraine, and its implications for the United States and other affected countries, appears in English for the first time.

  • Finckenauer, James O., and Ko-lin Chin. 2006. Asian transnational organized crime and its impact on the United States. Trends in Organized Crime 10:18–107.

    DOI: 10.1007/s12117-006-1034-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Based on field observations and interviews with experts in eight Asian sites, as well as an analysis of U.S. indictments and literature. Little consensus is found among the Asian authorities on identifying their main organized-crime problems, focusing more on traditional organized crime and less on transnational crimes.

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  • Finckenauer, James O., and Jennifer L. Schrock, eds. 2004. The prediction and control of organized crime. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

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    Papers that summarize a unique research partnership between the United States and the Ukraine, in which researchers were organized into small groups focusing on drug trafficking, human trafficking, the criminal justice response to organized crime, and an assessment of the nature, types, and risks of organized crime.

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  • Finckenauer, James O., and Elin Waring. 2001. The Russian Mafia in America: Immigration, culture, and crime. Boston: Northeastern Univ. Press.

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    A historical examination of Russian organized crime to its recent manifestations in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Through research and interviews, the authors find that Russian organized crime is network-based and more loosely structured than that of Mafia groups.

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  • Glenny, Misha. 2009. McMafia: A journey through the global criminal underworld. New York: Vintage.

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    A comprehensive description of changes in organized crime and illegal trade, focusing on the newly independent states emerging after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The author also describes the operation of organized criminal networks in a number of other world locations.

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  • Griffin, Sean Patrick. 2005. Black Brothers Inc.: The violent rise and fall of Philadelphia’s Black Mafia. Preston, UK: Milo.

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    About the emergence of the “Black Mafia” from Philadelphia’s ghettos. Known as “Black Brothers Incorporated,” the group controlled illicit drugs, loan sharking, numbers gambling, extortion, and other criminal enterprises. The group was disrupted through convictions of its leaders during the 1980s but reemerged under new leadership during the 1990s.

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  • McIllwain, Jeffrey Scott. 2004. Organizing crime in Chinatown: Race and racketeering in New York City, 1890–1910. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

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    This historical analysis challenges notions that Italian and Jewish gangsters dominated organized crime activity in New York City in the early 20th century. The author presents evidence that Chinese organized criminals were involved in criminal enterprises, especially illegal gambling, prostitution, and narcotics.

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  • Redo, Slawomir. 2004. Organized crime and its control in Central Asia. Huntsville, TX: Office of International Criminal Justice.

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    Reporting on organized crime in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and the Kyrgyz Republic (formerly Kyrgyzstan), this book offers valuable information about a region of the world that is not well known to the West. Organized crime issues in this region are placed in context of ethnic and Islamic traditions as well their geopolitical context.

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  • Serio, Joseph D. 2008. Investigating the Russian Mafia. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press.

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    The author, who lived in the former Soviet Union for seven years, explains Russian organized crime. He incorporates the unique perspective of these criminal organizations and the impact of the Soviet collapse and emergence of a new government on criminal activity in Russia and abroad.

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  • Varese, Frederico. 2005. The Russian Mafia: Private protection in a new market economy. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    An explanation and analysis of the emergence of Russian organized crime and its transition to an open economy. The historical role of private protection and corruption in Russia, and its analogs elsewhere, are shown to influence current organized crime activity.

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Law Enforcement Accounts

There have been a number of significant criminal cases made against organized crime figures, many based on undercover police work. Over the last two decades, a growing number of books by and about these investigations have appeared. These accounts have value in providing a police perspective on the lives of major and minor organized crime figures, and also in demonstrating the difficulties and dangers involved in investigating these kinds of criminal activities. Joseph Pistone worked undercover for six years while infiltrating the Bonanno family in New York (Pistone 1997). Garcia and Levin 2008 describes a similar undercover investigation of another Mafia group in New York. O’Brien and Kurins 1992 provides fascinating details of surveillance and electronic eavesdropping in making the case against Gambino crime boss Paul Castellano. Roberts and Snider 2005 tells the story of a businessman who ultimately worked undercover in a cigarette-smuggling case involving organized crime. Cowan and Century 2002 describes an undercover investigation into New York’s garbage-hauling industry, and Delaney and Scheiber 2008 recounts an undercover investigation of organized crime in New Jersey. Queen 2005 tells the story of two years of undercover work in a motorcycle gang. Lawson and Oldham 2007 tells the reverse story of two New York detectives who came to work for the Mafia, only to be caught years later.

  • Cowan, Rick, and Douglas Century. 2002. Takedown: The fall of the last Mafia empire. New York: Putnam Berkley.

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    Cowan was a New York City detective who went undercover to investigate the Mafia’s monopoly of New York’s waste-removal business. He planted bugs, had confrontations with mob figures, secured convictions, and also suffered trauma from years of living a double life.

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  • Delaney, Bob, and Dave Scheiber. 2008. Covert: My years infiltrating the mob. New York: Union Square.

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    The autobiography of Delaney, a New Jersey state trooper who went undercover to create and run a fake business, Alamo Trucking. A three-year investigation resulted in convictions of multiple Mafia members, and the book describes the operations and dangers of the work. Delaney is now a National Basketball Association (NBA) referee.

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  • Garcia, Joaquin, and Michael Levin. 2008. Making Jack Falcone: An undercover FBI agent takes down a Mafia family. New York: Touchtone.

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    The autobiographical account of a Cuban-born American undercover FBI agent and his infiltration of the Gambino crime family in New York. Contains excellent descriptions of the mob lifestyle, criminal activities, and the dangers of undercover work.

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  • Lawson, Guy, and William Oldham. 2007. The brotherhoods: The true story of two cops who killed for the Mafia. New York: Pocket Books.

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    About Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, retired New York City policemen convicted of assisting the Mafia, from providing information to committing murder. Written by an investigative journalist and the detective who investigated the case. A seven-year investigation illuminates both the Mafia figures and detective work involved in the case.

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  • O’Brien, Joseph F., and Andris Kurins. 1992. Boss of bosses: The FBI and Paul Castellano. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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    Two former FBI agents tell the story of their investigation, surveillance, bugging, and conversations with members of the Gambino crime family in New York City and the arrest of boss Paul Castellano. Many insights into the motivations of mobsters and the requirements for a successful investigation.

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  • Pistone, Joseph D. 1997. Donnie Brasco. New York: Signet.

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    The autobiographical account of undercover FBI agent Joseph Pistone, who worked for six years to infiltrate the Bonanno crime group in New York City. Provides insight into both the traumatic impact on Pistone and the criminal operations he infiltrated.

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  • Queen, William. 2005. Under and alone. New York: Random House/Ballantine.

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    The account of an undercover agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, who infiltrated the vicious California-based Mongols motorcycle gang, who were involved in drugs, stolen motorcycles, weapons traffic, and murder. Details the psychological stress of living a dual life, even though Queen’s law enforcement work was successful.

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  • Roberts, Paul W., and Norman Snider. 2005. Smokescreen. Vancouver, BC: Raincoast.

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    The story of businessman Cal Broeker, who discovered his business partners in Montreal were linked to organized crime. For seven years he was an undercover operative for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Secret Service. The book’s title is derived from the illegal cigarette trafficking through Native American reservations.

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Theories and Explanations

Theory development in organized crime has been slow. This is undoubtedly related to the fact, described in Data Sources, that there is little data on which to develop and test hypotheses systematically. As a result, most of the research conducted thus far has involved case studies or limited samples. Nevertheless, there have been efforts to apply theory to the study of organized crimes that span issues of situational crime prevention (Felson 2006), and multivariate prediction (Albanese 2000). Allum and Sands 2004 covers economic concerns; Chin and Godson 2006 and Sands 2007 discuss issues of political enabling; and Milhaupt and West 2000 discusses property rights. Cressey 1969 describes the structure of Italian American organized crime (Cosa Nostra) as a multilevel bureaucratic hierarchy. In addition, there are works such as Piquero 2005 and Levi 2008 suggesting that traditional criminology theory may have applications to organized crime–related activity.

  • Albanese, Jay S. 2000. The causes of organized crime: Do criminals organize around opportunities for crime or do criminal opportunities create new offenders? Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 16:409–434.

    DOI: 10.1177/1043986200016004004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the two competing explanations of organized crime expressed in the title, using several existing studies to assess the relationship among opportunity factors, the criminal environment, and special skills or access requirements to develop predictive estimates of the extent of organized crime activity.

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  • Allum, Felia, and Jennifer Sands. 2004. Explaining organized crime in Europe: Are economists always right? Crime, Law, and Social Change 41:133–160.

    DOI: 10.1023/B:CRIS.0000016223.49968.17Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A review and critique of prevailing economic explanations of organized crime. Concludes that an economic model of causation does not adequately explain major organized crime groups operating in Europe. Other variables need to be accounted for.

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  • Chin, Ko-lin, and Roy Godson. 2006. Organized crime and the political-criminal nexus in China. Trends in Organized Crime 9:5–44.

    DOI: 10.1007/s12117-006-1001-zSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Traces the evolution of the political-criminal nexus (PCN) in China. Interviews and field observations are used in three Chinese provinces, finding that the PCN is a nexus between gangsters and low- and mid-level government officials. The development of PCN in China is categorized as economic, structural, social/cultural, and psychological/ideological.

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  • Cressey, Donald R. 1969. Theft of the nation: The structure and operations of organized crime in America. New York: Harper and Row.

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    This book is an expansion of Cressey’s 1967 “Task Force Report on Organized Crime for the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice,” describing Italian American organized crime (Cosa Nostra) as a multilevel bureaucratic hierarchy. His conclusions are based on testimony from informant Joseph Valachi. Reprinted 2008, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.

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  • Felson, Marcus. 2006. The ecosystem for organized crime. HEUNI Paper No. 26. Helsinki: European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control.

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    Using a situational crime prevention approach, the author argues that too much attention has been paid to specific groups in organized crime research. He insists that the focus should be shifted toward identifying specific and tangible events, their sequences, and their settings in order to combat organized crime. Available online.

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  • Levi, Michael. 2008. Organized fraud and organizing frauds: Unpacking research on networks and organization. Criminology and Criminal Justice 8:389–419.

    DOI: 10.1177/1748895808096470Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the organization of frauds, and concludes that they involve contingent relationships among settings, opportunities, the abilities of perpetrators, and controls (such as law enforcement). Some frauds are committed by transnational organized crime networks, others by small groups or individuals, while still others are committed without the involvement of organized crime.

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  • Milhaupt, Curtis J., and Mark D. West. 2000. The dark side of private ordering: An institutional and empirical analysis of organized crime. University of Chicago Law Review 67:41–99.

    DOI: 10.2307/1600326Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An analytical argument that organized crime competes with the state to provide enforcement of property rights and protection services; also discusses how organized crime operates in Japan and how the private property ordering system permits organized crime to thrive.

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  • Piquero, Nicole Leeper. 2005. Causes and prevention of intellectual property crime. Trends in Organized Crime 8:40–61.

    DOI: 10.1007/s12117-005-1013-0Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines intellectual property theft, referring to the ownership and rights to use creative work that results from intellectual activity. There are four recognized categories of intellectual property (patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and copyrights), and theoretical arguments are developed to explain intellectual property theft and the implications for prevention.

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  • Sands, Jennifer. 2007. Organized crime and illicit activities in Spain: Causes and facilitating factors. Mediterranean Politics 12:211–232.

    DOI: 10.1080/13629390701398058Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A number of organized crime groups and activities in Spain are identified. With an analysis of the factors that facilitate organized crime in Spain and make it an ideal environment for this illicit activity, together with weaknesses and inefficiencies present in Spain’s institutions and systems.

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Illicit Goods

A central activity of organized crime is the provision of illicit goods. These goods are either illegal in themselves (illicit drugs, stolen goods) or they are lawful goods being provided through illegal methods (illegal gambling, usury, weapons trafficking). These goods are often in high demand, thus creating an illicit market for their sale. Decker and Chapman 2008 report on interviews with incarcerated drug traffickers regarding their motivations and apprehensions. Desroches 2007 studies drug traffickers and their operations in four countries. Gouney and Bezlov 2008 examines the structure and operation of automobile theft and smuggling from Spain into Bulgaria. Nordstrom 2007 examines the networks underlying the illicit trade in stolen goods, and Phillips 2005 provides a useful discussion of counterfeiting and its social impact. The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute 2007 is an expansive overview of the problem of counterfeiting medicines and other products, and Zaitch 2002 reports on research based on conversations with drug traffickers in two countries to understand the organization of the illicit market.

  • Decker, Scott H., and Margaret Townsend Chapman. 2008. Drug smugglers on drug smuggling: Lessons from the inside. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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    Describes how drug smugglers operate and how they evade capture, based on interviews with thirty-four incarcerated federal drug offenders.

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  • Desroches, Frederick. 2007. Research on upper level drug trafficking: A review. Journal of Drug Issues 37:827–844.

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    A research review of major drug traffickers in four countries, including a typology of drug traffickers and models of drug network organization.

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  • Gouney, Philip, and Tihomir Bezlov. 2008. From the economy of deficit to the black-market: Car theft and trafficking in Bulgaria. Trends in Organized Crime 11:410–429.

    DOI: 10.1007/s12117-008-9053-xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the demand, supply, and regulatory influences that shape the motor-vehicle theft market in Bulgaria and gives a historical perspective. The smuggling patterns in source countries, particularly Spain, are also examined.

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  • Nordstrom, Carolyn. 2007. Global outlaws: Crime, money, and power in the contemporary world. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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    An ethnography spanning several continents; the author spent several years talking to citizens, criminals, police, government officials, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and others to learn how criminal networks are organized and opportunities for illicit trade are exploited.

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  • Phillips, Tim. 2005. Knockoff: The deadly trade in counterfeit goods. London: Kogan Page.

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    A business journalist’s account of the nature and impact of counterfeit products on the economy, public health, corruption, and organized crime. Looks at fake CDs, cigarettes, drugs, auto parts, software, and other products.

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  • United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute. 2007. Counterfeiting: A global spread, a global threat. Turin, Italy: UNICRI.

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    An assessment of the nature of counterfeit medicine, drugs, toys, spare parts, and other goods. Points to the need for better data collection, legal changes, enforcement methods, and attention to the role of organized crime.

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  • Zaitch, Damian. 2002. Trafficking cocaine: Colombian drug entrepreneurs in the Netherlands. New York: Springer Verlag.

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    A sociological study of drug traffickers and how they organized their business. Based on five years of ethnographic fieldwork with Colombian drug traffickers in the Netherlands and Colombia, illustrating the flexible and heterogeneous composition of cocaine-trafficking enterprises

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Illicit Services

A major category of organized crime activity is the provision of illicit services. These are services that are illegal, but remain in high public demand. As a result, criminal enterprises emerge to provide these services on a systematic basis. Examples of the provision of illicit services include commercial sex (prostitution and pornography), illegal gambling, and trafficking in persons for purposes of labor or sexual exploitation. Trafficking in human beings involves the movement or harboring of persons for the purpose of exploitation while using force, fraud, or coercion. Criminal entrepreneurs emerge to exploit these illicit opportunities for profit, often at the expense of an unknowing victim. Gerdes 2006 presents perspectives on both sides of the debates regarding commercial sex over criminalization versus decriminalization and regulation versus deregulation. Albanese 2007 provides an overview of the sexual exploitation of children for profit in North America. Di Nicola, et al. 2008 studies the demand side of commercial sex and how it can be addressed more effectively. Zhang 2008 reports on fieldwork and interviews with Chinese human smugglers. The related issue of trafficking in human body parts has recently drawn attention, and its dimensions are discussed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2008. Coontz 2001 conducted interviews with sports bookmakers to assess their organization and links to organized crime. Steffensmeier and Ulmer 2006 examines the role of race and ethnicity in the organization and operation of illegal gambling enterprises. The analysis is based on information drawn from sources including key individuals who had been participants in the illegal numbers industry.

Infiltration of Business and Government

This category of organized crime involves offenses that exploit legitimate businesses and government by force, fraud, or corruption. These offenses are especially serious because they inhibit government regulation of illegal trade and the ability of businesses to operate without unlawful interference. Extortion is obtaining property by using threats of physical injury, property damage, or exposure to ridicule or criminal charges. It is closely associated with racketeering, created as an offense in a U.S. law that provides for extended penalties for crimes committed as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. Corruption is defined broadly as the abuse of power for private gain. It is a core problem that underpins a great deal of organized crime and prevents governments from operating under the rule of law. Allum and Siebert 2003 provides a series of articles on organized crime’s connection to the state and its effect upon civil society and politics. Buscaglia and van Dijk 2003 empirically tests the factors related to organized crime and corruption in multiple countries. Fisman and Miguel 2008 examines the role of corruption in inhibiting the progress of developing countries. Jacobs 2006 offers a series of case studies in the United States on how effective attempts at removal of the organized crime influence from labor unions have been. Siegel and Nelen 2007 examines the nature and impact of different kinds of organized crime in multiple countries. Sung 2004 tests two hypotheses regarding the impact of a bad economy and state failure on organized crime in fifty-nine countries. Van Dijk 2007 conducts an empirical analysis of indicators of organized crime, rule of law, and corruption on national wealth across different countries, and Williams 2009 compares the types of organized crime in Iraq: state-controlled criminal enterprise under the old regime versus open-market activity today.

  • Allum, Felia, and Renate Siebert, eds. 2003. Organized crime and the challenge to democracy. New York: Routledge.

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    A contemporary assessment of the relationships among state, civil society, politics, and organized crime in different cultural contexts. The book’s emphasis is on Italy, but there are separate chapters on Japan, the United States, Russia, Colombia, and Marseilles (France).

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  • Buscaglia, Egardo, and Jan van Dijk. 2003. Controlling organized crime and corruption in the public sector. Forum on Crime and Society 3:3–34.

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    An empirical multinational study on factors associated with corruption and organized crime. Concludes that the quality of state institutions, such as police, prosecution, and courts, was the most significant factor in explaining levels of corruption, regardless of level of national development.

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  • Fisman, Raymond, and Edward Miguel. 2008. Economic gangsters: Corruption, violence, and the poverty of nations. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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    The authors conclude that many developing countries have not progressed because of corruption, and they argue for better research to evaluate various development approaches and their relationship to corruption.

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  • Jacobs, James. 2006. Mobsters, unions, and feds: The Mafia and the American labor movement. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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    A study of racketeering in the construction industry, focusing on the influence of Italian American organized crime in New York. The causal conditions of pervasive corruption are assessed, as well as the outcomes of multiple prosecutions and the mixed success of federal monitors to replace convicted labor leaders.

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  • Siegel, Dina, and Hans Nelen, eds. 2007. Organized crime: Culture, markets, and policies. New York: Springer.

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    This book of fifteen research contributions expresses the need for more empirical knowledge about organized crime in specific situational contexts. The contributors address many aspects of organized crime, including drugs, diamonds, human trafficking, ecological crime, conflict resolution, and underground banking.

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  • Sung, Hung-En. 2004. State failure, economic failure, and predatory organized crime: A comparative analysis. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 41:111–129.

    DOI: 10.1177/0022427803257253Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Reports findings from comparative analysis of perceptions of predatory organized crime in fifty-nine countries. Two hypotheses were evaluated: the state fails to perform key functions, and a poor economy encourages criminal syndicates to supply goods, services, and jobs. The results supported both hypotheses.

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  • van Dijk, Jan. 2007. Mafia markers: Assessing organized crime and its impact upon societies. Trends in Organized Crime 10:39–56.

    DOI: 10.1007/s12117-007-9013-xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An empirical exploratory model is presented to assess the independent effect of organized crime, rule of law, and corruption in national wealth. The findings suggest that tolerating activities of local criminal groups have measurable negative impacts.

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  • Williams, Phil. 2009. Organized crime and corruption in Iraq. International Peacekeeping. 16:115–135.

    DOI: 10.1080/13533310802485591Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the evolution of organized crime in Iraq from a state-controlled enterprise to open-market organized crime under the current regime. The author argues that organized crime has become a method for obtaining funds to consolidate local control over people and resources, resulting in widespread violence.

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Policy and Prevention

There has been much written about ways in which organized crime can be combated more effectively. This literature usually takes a policy-and-practice perspective, focusing on law enforcement or crime prevention approaches needed to better control organized crime from the perspective of reducing demand or supply—all while increasing the probability of apprehension and competition among criminal groups. Blakey 2006, written by the author of the U.S. racketeering law, provides a history of that law and its impact over time. Levi and Maguire 2004 offers ideas for empirical measurement of the impact of efforts to reduce organized crime, and Castle 2008 also offers ways to objectively assess the impact of law enforcement initiatives. Early and Shur 2003 describes the genesis and development of the witness protection program and its use against organized crime groups. Ross 2002 evaluates the pros and cons of undercover efforts that are used most often in organized crime cases, whereas Leong 2007 assesses the impact of law and regulation on controlling organized crime. Fijnaut and Paoli 2004 presents alternative strategies for controlling organized crime in Europe, and Fazey 2007 focuses on international drug trafficking and the cooperation needed to control this multinational business.

  • Blakey, G. Robert. 2006. RICO: The genesis of an idea. Trends in Organized Crime 9:8–34.

    DOI: 10.1007/s12117-006-1011-xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A history of the novel legal approach to organized crime set forth in the 1970 U.S. racketeering law. Written by that law’s author, this article explains legal predicates to this law and the importance of understanding criminal enterprise as distinct from individual acts. Discussion of the law’s civil penalties is included.

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  • Castle, Allan. 2008. Measuring the impact of law enforcement on organized crime. Trends in Organized Crime 11:135–156.

    DOI: 10.1007/s12117-008-9030-4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the possibility of measuring the impact of law enforcement on organized crime in a reliable manner. Concludes that a multidisciplinary focus on community-level indicators of crime offers promise in measuring the impact of the government’s investment in law enforcement.

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  • Earley, Peter, and Gerald Shur. 2003. WITSEC: Inside the federal witness protection program. New York: Bantam.

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    Shur founded the U.S. witness protection program. This is his account of the problems in creating new identities for subjects who had been mostly career criminals. Many insights into how this program was alternately supported and then attacked over the years as political, public, and media interest shifted over time.

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  • Fazey, Cindy. 2007. International policy on illicit drug trafficking: The formal and informal mechanisms. Journal of Drug Issues 37:755–779.

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    Critiques the formal and informal transnational groups formed in recent years to prevent drug trafficking. An integrated approach focuses on money laundering and precursor chemicals to address the problem early in the process, and there remains a need for better cooperation and harmonizing of statistics between key international bodies.

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  • Fijnaut, Cyrille, and Letzia Paoli. 2004. Organised crime in Europe: Concepts, patterns and control policies in the European Union and beyond. New York: Springer.

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    A one-thousand-page book divided into three parts: organized crime history, contemporary patterns, and organized crime control policies. The editors provide useful introductions at the beginning and syntheses at the end of each section. The book’s thirty-three contributors from thirteen European countries include many of the leading European writers and researchers on organized crime.

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  • Leong, Angela. 2007. The disruption of international organised crime: An analysis of legal and non-legal strategies. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

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    An assessment of national (United Kingdom) and international legal instruments and civil recovery regulations designed to address transnational organized crime and the flow of illicit goods and services across borders, including a discussion of the issues of regulation, criminalization, and civil liberties.

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  • Levi, Michael, and Mike Maguire. 2004. Reducing and preventing organised crime: An evidence-based approach. Crime, Law, and Social Change 41:397–469.

    DOI: 10.1023/B:CRIS.0000039600.88691.afSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores more effective organized crime–reduction strategies in an area where law enforcement, rather than prevention, dominates thinking. Cites private-sector data quality that may demonstrate effectiveness, differentiating the impact on crime from the impact on organized crime and between voluntary vice and predatory crimes involving direct harm to victims.

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  • Ross, Jacqueline E. 2002. Tradeoffs in undercover investigations: A comparative perspective. University of Chicago Law Review 69:1011–1051.

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    Uses two books to assess comparative analyses of undercover policing, examining the question whether the rules governing transnational investigations will be different from those governing domestic undercover policing. The author finds important tradeoffs between deception and coercion, which involve both institutional and individual choices.

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LAST MODIFIED: 12/14/2009

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195396607-0021

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