Personal Perception of Organized Crime University of Phoenix CJA/393 – Organized Crime By Magdalena Enger September 12, 2010 Personal perception of organized crime American organized crime history goes back as far as the colonial period when pirates were considered to be the first organized criminals in America. However, many historians believe that 1920s Chicago and New York gangs were the true beginning of these criminal families. Even though definite dates have never been established, organized crime has become extremely advanced. It is one of the most structured, dangerous, very hard to detect and even harder to fight against. Modern organized crime is a major issue in the United States and one of the toughest to deal with by law enforcement. Organized criminals are very dangerous individuals who have no known limits and they will do anything necessary to achieve their goals, to profit and gain power by any means available to them. Many individuals portray organized crime as crimes that are shown by the media on television or in the movies such as “The Godfather”, “American Gangster” or “The Sopranos. The media gives society ideas about the lifestyles and activities that individuals associated with organized crime groups engage in. This perception is limited and not nearly close to reality. My perception of organized crime is one of violence, deception, intimidation, and blackmail to benefit the group. Also their involvement in prostitution, street drugs, gambling, politics, and money laundering to achieve power and respect. This includes but does not imply any limits to terrorists, gangs, and mafia. Organized crime is defined as an illegal activity that involves a group of at least three people (two members and a leader). The leader is a person who makes the rules and gives orders to members. Members are assigned to specific jobs depending on their skills. Organized criminals engage in illegal activities that permit their leaders to earn profits or control territories or markets, internal or foreign, by means of violence, intimidation or corruption. In organized crime the leader is isolated from direct engagement in criminal activities. So called “dirty jobs” are carried out by members of the organized crime group. Crime syndicates, mafia families and gangs prove their loyalty to their leader and organization by fulfilling their obligations to the group. Cartels, mafias, gangs, syndicates, and triads are some of organized crime groups. All these groups do not tolerate competition that is why they fight for monopolization in their field (such as drug trafficking). Organized crime has a number of characteristics. The main goal is to gain profit, power, respect, pride, and protection. Organized crime groups supply illegal goods and services such as drugs or prostitution that many people crave and are willing to pay for. Another characteristic of organized crime is a hierarchical structure as a business that has a boss (leader), an advisor who works closely with the boss, a crew leader who runs group members, and members who carry out a wide range of assigned tasks, from collecting money, dealing and trafficking drugs, prostitution, gambling, money laundering, racketeering, extortion and killing people. Another characteristic of organized crime groups is limited or exclusive membership, which is awarded by the leader. According to Lyman and Potter “this characteristic refers to ethic background, kinship, race, long time friendship, or other variables that make the recruit an attractive candidate for membership” (2007, p. 7). In conclusion, organized crime may be a great way to get reach and powerful for some people. However, once person becomes a member of any organized crime group he or she is committed to a full loyalty to a leader and organization. Only one mistake on the part of a member may jeopardize their love once or their own well being. Affiliates designate their life to the so called “criminal families”, and in exchange they get money and respect. References: Lyman, M. D. , & Potter, G. W. (2007). Organized crime (4th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall. Mallory, S. L. (2007). Understanding organized crime. Sudbury MA: Jones and Bartlett.
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