Organized crime has overtime grown and transformed from the renowned street gangs to a whole new level of cyber and corporate crime. Organized crime poses a great threat to peace, stability, and ability to keep up an amicable living environment. It also harms the entrepreneurial world by discouraging creation of new business ventures and expansion of the already existing enterprises. Criminal enterprises have a broad network and threshold under which they carry out their illegal activities. Some of these organizations are passed and full-fledged from generations to generations, with a sole purpose of attaining power and money. This paper aims to describe the structure of criminal business enterprises, their history, operations, leaders, survival, policies against them and their impact to the community.
Criminal business enterprises are organizations that are set up to carry out illegal acts. They are also corporations that are set up legally to serve as vectors to pursue criminal activities. Such activities include raids and robbery with violence, smuggling of illegal or fake goods, child, alien, and prostitution trafficking, and narcotics trafficking. Others are fraud, money laundry, extortion, illegal gambling, illegal weapons, kidnapping, loan sharking, cyber phishing, and hacking. These activities are important to members of such organizations due to the returns and profits they make. In addition, they also gain power and influence and in some cases, enjoy protection if they have a rank in the governments. In other cases, the returns are psychic, for instance, the buzz of danger, vengeance, peer endorsement, and sense of achievement (Gottschalk, Knowledge Management in Policing, 2009).
Overall structure of organized crime involves illegal activities, crime sectors and markets, and people. For an organization to qualify as a criminal entity, it needs to have some characteristics. Such an organization consists of more than one person, and in most cases these organizations are political allies, clans, or other family based entities. Members have responsibilities, which they carry out faithfully ranging from one mission to another. During recruitment or initiation, some organizations have swearing or oath rituals to mark members’ eternal commitment to the criminal enterprise. These criminal enterprises exist over time and are known to use disciplinary measures to get things done their way. Most evidently, they are suspected of carrying out heinous illegal activities and some operate even at a global level. These criminal organizations are also known to make use of violence to instill fear, intimidation, and to undertake retribution (Gottschalk, Knowledge Management in Policing, 2009).
Some of these organizations are legally registered business entities but they go ahead and engage in offenses such as money laundering. Most of these criminal enterprises are power and profit driven. They influence politics, public administration, media, judicial system, and the economy. They strive to ‘arm-twist’ existing authorities and institutions to ease the effect of their illegal endeavors. These organizations, like any other, have leaders who give orders and are final beneficiaries. However, most of these organizations are run and owned by powerful families, hence sometimes it is difficult to point out the supreme leader (Gottschalk, Knowledge Management in Policing, 2009).
Just like a legal market, crime markets are also influenced by supply and demand. Suppliers provide illegal goods and services to the readily awaiting customers hence fulfilling niches in this market. Similarly, when the demand is at peak and supply is low, the prices shoot up. Whereas when the demand is low and there is sufficient supply, the prices are relatively low. In order to keep up continuous supply, expand customer base and make profits, suppliers promote their illegal goods and services through controlled advertising and corruption. Since corruption is a two-way phenomenon, suppliers continuously bribe respective police institutions to gain ‘clearance’ to conduct their illegal business (Gottschalk, Knowledge Management in Policing, 2009).
A key feature of these criminal organizations is that they have been in existence for generations and continue to exist over time. With such a generational prosperity, these organizations continually broaden their activities to dynamic crimes across time. Systematic violence and continuous corruption fuel survival and thriving ability of these organizations. This also creates a sustaining environment for these organizations to quench their insatiable quests and hunger for power and money (Geoff, 2010).
History shows that Asian and African crime organizations have been in existence in the United States since early 1900s and 1980s respectively. The first Asian criminal enterprises emanated from Chinese tongs, who were immigrants in America. Over time they have grown into international crime enterprises with affiliates in Southeast and East Asia. These include countries such as China, the Philippines, Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Vietnam, and Laos. Asian crime organizations exist in two divisions. Traditional criminal enterprises include Chinese triads also known as underground societies with hubs in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau in addition to Japanese Yakuza or Boryokudan. Non-traditional criminal organizations include groupings such as Chinese criminally inclined tongs, triad associates, and other ethnic Asian street groupings established in several countries with much Asian communities (The Federal Bureau of Investigation).
Through the years, Asian criminal organizations have thrived due to globalization and growth of world economies. Today, advanced communication and information technology and international travel has also played a big role in their prosperity. Less strict immigration policies have provided a chance to many Asian natives to travel and settle in many populated parts of the world undetected. These Asian criminal organizations continue to rely on broad networks of national and global criminal affiliates that are fluid and exceedingly itinerant. These organizations adapt easily to alterations in the environment and have multilingual capabilities. They carry out sophisticated criminal acts and have a strong foundation when it comes to finances. They generally carry out traditional racketeering activities, which are criminal by law. These include kidnappings, alien trafficking, extortion, money laundry, and smuggling of illegal and counterfeit goods (The Federal Bureau of Investigation).
African criminal enterprises in the United States have become prosperous since 1980s due to globalization and growth of world economies. Just like Asian criminal organizations, advanced communication and information technology and international travel have also played a big role in their prosperity. Less strict immigration policies have also provided a chance to many African natives to travel and settle in many populated parts of America undetected. The political, economic, and social status in many African nations, such as Nigeria, Ghana, and Liberia, has continuously encouraged the growth and spread of these criminal organizations abroad. These African criminal enterprises have hubs in major metropolitan destinations in the United States such as Chicago, Atlanta, Washington DC, Baltimore, and New York. Nigerian criminal organizations are the most eminent and are found in more than 80 countries across the globe. They are aggressive and have a solid groundwork and networks dealing with drug trafficking and financial frauds (The Federal Bureau of Investigation).
For any organization to run smoothly and be efficient, it must have a hierarchy of leadership and protocol. Criminal enterprises are run by leaders where some are known while the identities of others remain a secret. Terry Adams heads the family based and most feared gang in England, the Adams Family. They started specializing in drugs in 1980s when there was high demand for ecstasy, cocaine, and cannabis. They have established a strong network with Colombian cartels and are associated with violence and a trail of about 30 murders on their case. This is according to the police department of England. Jamal Ahmidan was the leader of an Islamic group dealing in narcotic trade. He was caught and jailed but after being released he went back to narcotic business. He used some of the proceeds to carry out terror attacks in Madrid by bombing commuter trains during rush hour. Victor Bout born in Tajikistan, is perceived to be world’s largest dealer in illegal weapons. He underwent Russian military training in his youthful age and can fluently converse in six different dialects. Intelligence reports reveal that Afghan militia groups acquire weapons and ammunition from him. Bout has headquarters across Middle East e.g. in Arab Emirates, initially in Sharja and later in Ajman (Gottschalk, 2009).
AhjedWali Karzai, brother of Afghan president Hamid Karzai, is an opium baron. A big number of members of parliament in Kabul are stake-holders in opium production and trade. The Karzai family is the wealthy proprietor of Afghan Helmand restaurants in the United States. This family boasts of a huge influence in both the Kandahar and Helmand provinces in Afghanistan, controlling most of opium production in this country and the market globally. Shinobu Tsukasa is the leader of the Yamaguchi Gumi criminal organization in Japan. He is the sixth generational leader (kumicho). His organization has 17500 members from 750 clans. This organization conducts a variety of illegal businesses ranging from narcotics to smuggling of counterfeit goods. Ismael Zambada-Garcia is a captain of the Sinaloa Cartel operating in Mexico. He has become the largest drug baron in this region by annihilating rivals and cocaine producers from Colombia. To his advantage, police in Mazatlan eliminated one of his competitive rivals in 2002, Ramon Arellano (Gottschalk, 2009).
Illegal activities conducted by criminal enterprises result into great consequences mostly inflicting economic, psychological, societal, and physical harm. The greater is their ability to cause harm, the greater is the threat they pose to the community. Organized crime poses a great threat to peace, stability, and ability to keep up an amicable living environment. Corruption, illegal sale, and smuggling of counterfeit goods harms the economy of the affected country since original goods are off business. This may lead to laying off employees, who may turn to illegal ways of survival such as robbery. Perpetrators of corruption may also be jailed hence becoming a disgrace to their families (Geoff, 2010).
Drug trafficking and prostitution are multibillion illegal businesses across the world, which mostly affect the youth. Their education and health is compromised and the future of the country is thereby at risk. Cyber phishing and hacking result in leakage of paramount and confidential information, which may compromise a community, institution, or a country. Alien trafficking and kidnapping deny victims the right to freedom and infringes their right to live and be productive in the community. Since crime organizations are coupled with great conspiracies, conflicts between themselves and sometimes with law enforcers are inevitable. In the ugliest of scenarios, such as in deadly confrontations, death of either law enforcers or culprits occurs (Gottschalk, 2009).
Theories are used to analyze, better comprehend, and explain organized crime. Theory of monopoly denotes that people are compelled to join a criminal outfit if they have the potential to commit a crime and have chosen to do so. This is, however, less exhaustive because it does not fully describe criminal behavior. The fortitude of the market framework for illegal activities needs to be endogenous, which has distinguished repercussions for the best possible crime enforcement policies and crime itself. The theory of organizational crime argues that internal framework and locale of the criminal organization will naturally be found to violate the set societal laws governing organizational behavior. It also denotes that members of criminal organizations will faithfully commit to the organization according to their ranks and ensure survival and success of the organization (Gottschalk, Knowledge Management in Policing, 2009).
Alien conspiracy theory places blame on foreigners and external influences for growth and expansion of organized crime in the society. For instance, organized crime became prominent in Sicily in 1860s, and, therefore, Silicians are responsible for the establishment of organized crime in the USA, which is dominated by Italian families. Rational choice theory implies that people decide to commit crime after carefully analyzing possible detection and penalty as well as the returns if they succeed. As such, hard economic times and a corrupt police force have encouraged people to join Russian Mafia. General deterrence theory indicates that criminal activities can be frustrated by a threat of chastisement. Special deterrence, on the other hand, designates that punishment needs to be severe to deter people from committing criminal offenses (Gottschalk, Knowledge Management in Policing, 2009).
The FBI/National Police Agency of Japan Working Group holds annual meetings to discuss the progress made in investigations. They also work on policy issues for sharing intelligence. The International Law Enforcement Academy in Bangkok, Thailand, works jointly with Australian federal law enforcement agencies and the FBI to curb organized crime in Southeast Asia (The Federal Bureau of Investigation). The Department of Justice Nigerian Crime Initiative manages investigations on Nigerian criminal organizations by making use of joint commissions in six main cities in the USA (The Federal Bureau of Investigation).
Currently, there is an emergence of other criminal groups based online due to advanced communication and technology. When an earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, scammers immediately took to the Internet and began to circulate emails requesting people to send donations through Western Union Money Transfer to British Red Cross. This appeared to be a noble act but the British Red Cross did not receive contributions through Western Union. Scammers are making use of cell phones by urging people to send texts to certain numbers to give funds after disasters occur (Goodman, 2011).
In conclusion, it is important to control organized crime to restore social order and stability in the community. These organizations have caused financial losses through frauds, deaths of people through conflicts and wasted the lives of others through drug addiction, prostitution, and human trafficking. Law enforcers should avoid corruption, investigate, and fight these organizations to the ground. Strict and efficient policies need to be fully implemented to discourage establishment of such organizations and punish the perpetrators and leaders.
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- Goodman, M. (2011). What business can learn from organized crime. Harvard.
- Gottschalk, P. (2009). Entrepreneurship and organised crime. Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing.
- Gottschalk, P. (2009). Knowledge management in policing. New York: Hindawi Publishing Corporation.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation. (n.d.). African criminal enterprises. Retrieved from: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/organizedcrime/african
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation. (n.d.). Asian criminal enterprises. Retrieved from: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/organizedcrime/asian