Organized crime is undertaken for the sole purpose of making profits, attaining power or influence. It involves more than one person and includes a substantial planning and organization. Most of these criminal activities are punishable by law. The activities of the organized crime are kept secret and communication is by the word of mouth. Legitimate businesses are undertaken and act as a cover for the criminal activities. In most cases, the criminals seek support from the society; this means that it is possible to find respected members who have been forced into their activities through blackmail of bribery. These respected members include people in the judiciary, police and members of parliament (Parthy 2006 p.1).
Problems with Organized Crimes
Organized crime presents a wide range of threats to governments and its people all over the world. These threats may be grouped into five broad categories; the criminals and their businesses, drugs, immigration crimes, fraud and cross cutting. Drugs present one of the most difficult problems to the government. Huge profits realized by these illegal traders continue to attract large number of criminals who are involved in the trafficking and distribution. Profits present another source of problems by supporting posh lifestyles for the criminals and in addition fuel other minor criminal activities. This crime harms communities and the governments. Both the economic and social cost of combating this form of crime runs high.
There exists a hierarchical order of leadership in the organized crime with clear relationships established. These relationships have durable core of key individuals surrounded by various other levels of subordinates, specialists and other junior staff. It is a clear representation of a hierarchical order (Hughes 2010 p.6). While the above may seem highly organized, others are amorphous existing only for a given purpose and at a given time. Here, duties are shared according to one’s specialty and experiences. Specialty may include such activities as money laundering, debt enforcement and falsifying documents.
Criminals get involved in violence and inflict harm when trying to protect their activities, kidnapping for ransom, rivalries between different gangs and while coercing innocent people to facilitate crime.
Cross cutting crime involve criminals participating in illegal trade in fire arms. The presence of unlicensed fire arms in the society poses a great danger to the public and the state. Legitimate trade across borders make it difficult for governments to restrict importation of fire arms that are later used in criminal activities. Drugs are also easily smuggled into the country through porous borders and in the post and parcel services (Mallory 2007 p.38).
Organized immigration crime involves the smuggling of people into the country. In the process, criminals exploit immigrants and expose them to physical risk in the process of making money. Much of these physical risks occur during transit and in job placement. Illegal immigrants’ woes do not end in transit but continue to follow them in their slavish life one they arrive. They are controlled by this gangs and any resistance is faced with a lot of violence and intimidation. Profits gained from this trade continue to attract criminals making it difficult to control.
Fraud and technology enabled crime posses another problem to the state and the public. High level of technology has enabled criminals to access vital private data. Because they never meet and are only known by aliases, it is hard to track them down. ICT is used by organized crime to fuel other heinous acts such as the drug trade. Non fiscal fraud present problems to the people and the government as identities are stolen and used criminally harming lives and savings.
In countries having weak governments, organized criminals from foreign countries help local warlords in plundering those areas under their control. They provide illegal arms and drugs and in the process hinder reconciliation talks.
Crime renders development difficult to achieve especially where corruption and smuggling of goods are rife leading to low levels of human development. These criminals may take over weak municipal governments impeding development in the process. There is a wide violation of human rights and spread of HIV/AIDS (Padhy 2006 p.14)
Limitations in Combating Organized Crime
Poor economic and social conditions within a country make organized criminals take the advantage. This means that the state may find it difficult fighting the monopolistic practices. The openness of an economy presents another legal limitation as they permit criminal gangs to operate freely.
Organized crime is fueled by lack of clear definition of property rights. Within this setting, criminals control, at a fee, private property on behalf of their owners. Poor tax laws help in protecting criminal activities. Organized criminals evade taxes and engage in money laundering and other fraud crimes (Buscaglia & Dijik 2003 p.8).
Democracy may also hinder crime control as the sovereignty of a state ensures the protection of human rights to all individuals regardless of their age, gender or economic standing. Organized criminals flourish in states lacking effective law enforcement institutions where criminal activities are not reported.
Effectiveness of Organized Crime Prosecution
Higher output related to the execution of effective criminal justice culminates to lowered levels of organized crime. In that same voice, corruption also tends to fall when effective laws are put into action. Several agencies in the USA are involved in handling organized crime (Finklea 2009 p.6). Despite increased activity by these agencies, organized crime continues to flourish.
The constitution is the supreme law of the land. It is in the constitution that the government is given the ability to get involved in private matters. The constitution gives the police the mandate to protect the people and also sets out the maximum punishments for law offenders. It spells out the rights of individual under the section on the bill of rights and ensures that individual right are not violated by the police and the authority.
Criminal gangs operate with much concealed information. It is difficult to retrieve the information about their operations but the use of undercover agents has proved to be one of the most important initiatives in trying to crack down criminal gangs. This is a difficult task and in most cases, fellow criminals are used as undercover agents. The information thus gathered is firsthand and provides the law enforcers critical knowledge about gang leaders, their hideouts and their resources.
The use of informants by the police is yet another vital way of gaining control of the organized criminals. A person who is not a complainant, a witness or a victim may volunteer information to the authorities. Over the years, informants have enabled the police net some very important criminal. Dealing with informants may however be dangerous because of shifting allegiances. Use of informants presents another problem where the law agents get too close to the criminals to the point of getting involved in the crime. The best informants have been found to be those arrested for other crimes and who have information on the other gangs. The informants exchange information for lighter sentences. Informants are more useful than the use of undercover agents.
Intelligence operations involve the collection of information regarding criminal gangs. This is a covert operation and requires a lot of skills and patience. This is a new development in the control of criminal gangs and entails the use of secret police. It could be an effective control on the organized gangs if properly implemented. Using this technique enables the police to collect information on who is involved in crime but whose cases lack enough evidence. Once evidence is collected, the police may initiate a criminal investigation. The law enforcers often use intelligence agencies with whom they exchange information with on suspected drug dealers, arms dealers and other categories of organized criminals. These agencies include the El Paso Intelligence centre and the Narcotics and dangerous Drug Information System (NADDIS).
The 1986 money laundering act marked an important milestone in dealing with organized crime. According to this act, any financial transaction that furthered criminal acts, possessed money that was obtained from criminal acts or avoided reporting such money was made unlawful. It was realized that criminals tended to ‘clean’ money obtained from illegal activities through the use of several financial activities which these acts now targeted.
Since 1965, major acts have been signed by sitting presidents that allow the judicial process to initiate legal proceedings against organized crimes. These acts made it easy to collect evidence and stipulated harsh prison sentences for drug dealers.
Realistic solutions to effective prosecution would involve an increased knowledge and understanding of organized crime. The capacity of the law enforcers to investigate and prosecute organized crime need to be reviewed while case preparation should be improved. Detection and targeting of the organized crime cartels need to be improved. These solutions may lead to an increased efficiency in investigations and prosecutions (Department of justice, Canada 2004 p.6).
Several theories have been generated that try to understand why people commit crimes. Understanding the psychology of criminals could help law enforcers curb criminal activities. Looking at things from the conflict control theory of crime, people get involved in crime because of various motivations such as instrumental needs, emotions, frustration and excitement. Trying to meet these needs could help solve criminal activities. Equal distribution of wealth and the narrowing of the gap between the rich and the poor could prove pivotal in the move to reduce crime. Social learning theory cites socialization as a major cause of criminal activities in the society today. Young people learn the rules of the ‘trade’ from the people they interact with whom they take as role models. These otherwise innocent young men turn out to be hardcore criminals during their adult life (Jensen & Gary 2003 p.2). This theory overemphasizes on those values in the society e.g. relationships, norms and beliefs that are thought to make people shun away from criminal activities. Controlling the environment in which children are brought up is a sure way of ensuring that they do not receive bad influence. These steps though minimal in the control of crime could however help lower crime levels in the future
Organized crime is hard to crack especially with the current ICT technology where only aliases are used. This form of crime presents numerous problems to the state and its citizens which range from physical harm to economic and political. Organized crime prosecutions have so far proved fruitful but key improvements need to be included in prosecutions to deliver effective criminal justice that will ultimately lead to reduced incidences of organized crime.
Buscaglia, E. & Dijik, J. (2004). Controlling Organized Crime And Corruption In The Public Sector. Forum on crime and society by UN journal on drugs and crime, V3 (1).UN publications.
Department of Justice, Canada. (2004). Measures to Combat Organized Crime. Ontario: Department of justice.
Finklea, K. (2009). Organized Crime in the United States: Trends and Issues For Congress. New York: Diane publishing.
Hughes, W. (2009). The UK Threat Assessment of Organized Crime. New York: Prentice Hall
Jensen & Gary, F. (2003), social control theory in criminology, Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn publishers.
Mallory, S. (2007). Understanding Organized Crime. New York: Jones and Bartlett learning.
Padhy, P. (2006). Organized Crime. New Delhi: Gyan books