In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Organized Crime

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Data Sources
  • Biographies
  • Law Enforcement Accounts
  • Theories and Explanations
  • Illicit Goods
  • Illicit Services
  • Infiltration of Business and Government
  • Policy and Prevention

Criminology Organized Crime
Jay S. Albanese
  • LAST REVIEWED: 01 November 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0021


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.

    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.

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

    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.

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

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

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

    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.

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

    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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