ORGANIZED CRIME- WHAT IS IT, AND CAN IT BE STOPPED? PT 1.
When you hear the Words "ORGANIZED CRIME", what comes to Mind? Is it;
- Drug Dealers Ruling Neighborhood Streets?
- Memories of the "GODFATHER" MOVIES?
- Bank Robbers like John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Baby Face Nelson?
- Terrorists Targeting Innocent People, to Create Fear and Mistrust?
... OR MAYBE SOMETHING ELSE.
Why did I ask this Question at the Very Beginning? Because, it is something that has caused a great deal of Controversy over the Years. Politicians, Police Officials, Attorneys and the Court Systems etc., have argued over the Proper Definition for Decades. In Other Words:
- Does "Organized" Mean a Structured Chain of Command, with a Given Set of Rules and Regulations that are Enforced by the Leadership?
- Is it a "Members" only Club, where outsiders are just Tools that can be Discarded at any Time?
- Must it have a Purpose for its Existence, with everything Directed Towards a Specific Goal?
- Does Race and Ethnicity play any role in Designating a Particular Group as an Established
Organization Brought Together for Illegal Purposes?
- Generally Speaking, Terms that Denote a Collection of Individuals as a "Gang", are Differentiated from Others Tagged as "Organized Crime." I will explain the Reasons in a Future Post.
Of Course, Fighting Organized Criminal Elements through the Criminal Justice System is a Much Different Task than it is with other Forms of Illegal Activity. As we look at the History of Organized Crime, the Level of Sophistication that is often Achieved makes Arrests and Prosecution more difficult. This is Especially True if we consider the Amount of Corruption that has been Introduced into Established Legal Authority.
So How are we to Define "Organized Crime." Look for Part 2.
When Talking About Organized Crime, at least as it is Categorized in the U.S. and Most Industrialized Countries in the World Today, we are Referring to a Recent Invention.
How Man Governs,Goes to War, Conducts Business etc., has changed over the Centuries, and so has the Strategy and Tactics that Enable One Person or Persons to Take what Another Has, Without Permission, Proper Recompense, and Negative Consequences.
Of course Crime is more than just Theft, but Financial Windfalls are at the Heart of Virtually Every Unlawful Activity. All Roads seem to Lead there.
But I'm getting Ahead of Myself, so Lets return to the History of Organized Crime.
(To be Abbreviated O.C in the Future.)
In the Broadest Dense, O.C has existed Throughout Recorded History. BANDITRY on Land, and PIRACY on the Water, have Targeted Civilizations from the Greco- Roman World to Imperial China, and the Infant Nation called the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The Key? Go where the Wealth is, or Plunder and Rob those Populations unable to stop you.
However, Modern Day Organized Crime differs from what we see in the Past, on Several Key Points;
- There is Less Reliance on the Single Individual Leader, which Allows for the Continuation of Criminal Enterprises, with an Emphasis on Succession.
- The Concept of MONEY LAUNDERING, WHICH MEANS USING PROCEEDS FROM CRIMINAL ACTS TO FUND LEGITIMATE/LEGAL ACTIVITIES, USUALLY IN THE BUSINESS SECTOR.
- That it is Often More Beneficial to BRIBE, PAYOFF, OR CORRUPT LEGAL AUTHORITIES, INSTEAD OF FIGHTING THEM.
- On a Regular Basis to Encourage and Reward the Rank and File for Services Rendered.
TO BE CONTINUED...
ORGANIZED CRIME and CRIMINAL GANGS are often placed Together in the Same Category, and are Often used Interchangeably as being Identical Terms that Refer to the same thing.
However, that is not really True. There are Real Differences that can Include
such Things as:
- Goals that are Important to Each.
- Methodology in How Criminal Acts are Planned and Carried out.
- The Recruitment of New Members.
- Rules that are put in place to Resolve Internal Problems.
- The Degree to which Media Exposure Affects Policy Decisions.
- The Use of Ritualistic Ceremonies to Bind All Members Together.
These Differences, Historically, are Sometimes Indicative of the Relative
Success of Each.
GANGS are Traditionally a much Looser Collection of Individuals, who Team Up to Commit Criminal Acts, but usually don't have any formal Allegiance to one another. Members come and go, so Most Criminal Acts are Those of Opportunity, or Extorting Local Small Businesses who cannot reasonably put up a Successful Defense.
In the U.S. Criminal Gangs have been around since its Inception. In the Early Days of the Republic, the Size and Type was usually Orientated Towards the Geography and Relative Isolation of the Area
of Operations. Most Successful Gangs Operated on the Frontiers of the New Country, Where Law and Order were in Their Infancy.
The Dawn of the Formation of Larger Gangs, with a Membership that was Drawn from an Identifiable Section of the Population, came with the Onset of a Large Wave of Immigration starting in the Early 1800s. From this Initial Period of American History, we see the Beginning of Social Factors that led to the Formation of the First Organized Criminal Gangs that would have a Lasting and Direct Influence on Major Population Centers.
TO BE CONTINUED...
The First Large Criminal Gangs were founded in the Eastern U.S., and were formed by Two Main Groups;
IRISH IMMIGRANTS WHO CAME TO THE U.S. IN THE EARLY TO MID 1800s. These Formed in the Poorest Sections of Cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Boston etc.
ANTI- IMMIGRANT OR NATIVIST GANGS. These also formed in the same areas.
Much of the Conflict Between the Two Groups was not only the Country of Origin and Economic Factors, but a Prominent Religious Element that took the Form of AN ANTI- CATHOLIC SENTIMENT AMONG THE NATIVIST GANGS.
Gangs with Names such as:
- DEAD RABBITS.
- BOWERY BOYS.
- ROACH GUARDS.
Often numbered in the Hundreds.
They usually Centered Their Activities in and around the Areas and Neighborhoods from which Their members were Drawn From. As is still the case today, Most of Those Victimized by Criminal Activity were from the same Racial, Ethnic and Economic Class as Those who Committed the Illegal Acts.
While these were the First, CRIMINAL ORGANIZATIONS THAT HAVE BEEN FOUNDED AND FORMED ALONG RACIAL AND ETHNIC LINES ARE QUITE COMMON IN AMERICAN HISTORY. In Fact, There is no group Living in the U.S. Today that has not had its Share of ORGANIZED CRIMINAL ACTIVITY FORMED WITHIN THE BODY OF THE POPULATION CONTAINED WITHIN ITS DEFINED PARAMETERS.
THE REASONS FOR THIS SEEMS TO BE ALMOST UNIVERSAL ACROSS RACIAL AND ETHNIC LINES, AS ARE THE REASONS FOR THE SUCCESS AND FAILURE OF THEIR CRIMINAL ENTERPRISES.
LOOK FOR PART 5.
So what was the the Real Foundation for the Establishment of Organized Crime in the U.S.? Well, Quite Simply...
...It was the REALIZATION BY THE NEIGHBORHOOD/ETHNIC GANGS, that ONLY VICTIMIZING THOSE WHO;
- Lived and Worked in the Same General Area as the ROSTER OF INDIVIDUALS WHO MADE UP THE MEMBERSHIP.
- Were Part of Their Ethnic Group.
- Had Limited Economic Resources and
Could not Offer the Guarantee of enough Ill-Gotten Wealth to Satisfy the Greed and Desired Lifestyle of Those who Preferred Using Terror and Force on Innocent Victims, Even IF IT MEANT VICTIMIZING THOSE WHO WERE TRYING TO DO NOTHING MORE THAN SUPPORT AND RAISE A FAMILY.
The FORMATION OF GANGS AMONG ETHNIC GROUPS
WAS USUALLY THE RESULT OF AN UPSURGE IN NUMBERS
OF IMMIGRANTS, AND THE DIFFICULTY OF EACH GROUP
TO ASSIMILATE INTO A NEW CULTURE, SOMETIMES BECAUSE
OF THE HOSTILITY AND PREJUDICE FROM NATIVISTS AND
ANTI- IMMIGRATION POLITICIANS, OR ANY GROUP IN POWER WHO
REFUSED TO SHARE ANY PART OF IT.
These Situations OFTEN RESULTED IN NEWLY ARRIVED
IMMIGRANT POPULATIONS BEING DENIED FAIR
OPPORTUNITIES IN EMPLOYMENT, CREDIT OR HOUSING.
So, Just to Survive, They had to Accept Jobs that the
Resident Population REJECTED or COULD NOT FILL IN
So any Kind of Real Wealth, Even Through Criminal Activity,
was usually Located in Other Populated Areas and Neighborhoods.