Organized crime is any group of individuals small or large who form alliance for the purpose of obtaining personal, political, or financial gain-power. All criminal organizations establish a network of domestic and international connections. Some organizations members consist of a single ethnicity that share one belief and have one main purpose. Other organizations members are multicultural, have numerous goals, and function uniquely within the group. In addition, a majority of criminal organizations operate in the same fashion as a legitimate business. Policies and procedures, rules and regulations are created, evaluated, and implemented to: maintain and provide consistency with operations, prevent detection and apprehension by law enforcement, and guide administrators, and all members of the organizations workgroup (United States History, 2004).
Some organized crime groups are tight-knit with one main boss who is in charge of all decision making. This is for the benefit of the entire organization. Within this organization structure all members are formally initiated into the group and orders are given in a vertical position starting with the main leader moving down to the managers. Once the information reaches the workers information will then be directed in a horizontal position. One individual is appointed as an underboss that serves as a secondary to the main boss, communicates orders and takes full responsibility of the organization in the event the main boss cannot be present. In addition, the organization will have an advisor who handles all the legal issues, and numerous individuals that take the position of middle management. Middle management also known as captains operate crews or workers ranging in size (University of Phoenix, 2010).
Other criminal organizations are not tight-knit and may have many leaders or no leader. Within these organizations individuals have numerous goals, function according to specific skills, and are spread out in a wide spider web type network, such as with numerous street and motor cycle gangs that exist in the United States (University of Phoenix, 2010).
The perception I had of organized crime was much different from the definitions provided in the course readings. Initially I believed all criminal organizations consisted of one leader, an underboss, and numerous captains whose sole purpose was to operate small groups of workers. I was unaware captains and workers were allowed to seek out additional means of illicit activity that would benefit the organization. Moreover, I believed rules and regulations in these groups were designed for the sole purpose of maintaining order within the organization. I believe this ideology was obtained as a result of watching movies based on the Mafia. The readings have helped me realize that numerous criminal organizational structures exist, many of which are not the tight-knit families who follow the direction of one boss as displayed on TV and in movies. I am aware that many of the modern criminal organizations in the United States are spread out throughout the country and world. The definitions have displayed that modern criminal organizations operate and function in both a tight and loose-knit fashion, obtain domestic and international resources, and many of the members are responsible for the organizations success. The characteristics I believe are associated with organized criminal behavior are wide-ranging. First in any criminal organization all members are expected to follow a criminal code of conduct without question. Criminals consider it unethical to turn evidence against a group, organization, and members for any reason. All members are expected to protect the organization and its members while carrying out duties requested by leaders. Some organizations or groups require members to wear certain colors and symbols to display involvement. Street and motor cycle gangs are well known for this characteristic. Additional criminal behavior would consist of sales of illegal substances and items, such as weaponry, drugs, credit card numbers, and so forth. Moreover, bribery of political leaders and government officials, racketeering, money laundering, extortion, and murder have always been attributes found in criminals. Additionally, criminal behavior has led to sophistication, such as individuals who are well educated in business, marketing, computer technology, and so forth (Jones, 2005).
After carefully researching criminal organizations my views and understanding of the topic has changed considerably. Criminal organizations can involve a small group of people whose primary objective is to gain political power. On the other hand, other organizations can have hundreds or thousands of members with more than one objective. No matter what the goals of the organization is, financial, political, or personal, society, law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and small, and large businesses will be victimized. Federal, state, and local governments are forced to increase taxes, spend additional resources on security, and devise a plan-strategy that will alleviate such a burden. Until the criminal justice system and the professionals working within the system can gain a better understanding of organized crime, the world will continue to be plagued with wrongdoers, and criminal organizations who engage in illegal activity for the purpose of personal gains.
Jones, C. (2005). Genetic and Environmental Influences on Criminal Behavior. Retrieved August 13, 2010, from http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/jones.html
United States History. (2004). Organized Crime: Social Issues. Retrieved August 13, 2010, from http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1596.html
University of Phoenix. (2010). Week one overview. Retrieved August 12, 2010, from University of Phoenix, Week One, rEsources. CJA393-Understanding Organized Crime.