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Organized crimes have been in existence for centuries in almost every society. Criminals organize themselves into formal or informal groups to carry on their illegal activities violating the law ruthlessly. Like any other business organization, the professional criminals organize themselves into criminal gangs to carry on their anti-social activities with skill and efficiency for profit making.

Organized crime is an act which is committed by two or more criminals as a joint venture in a systematically organized manner. It is an illegal act which the members of an unlawful association commit with mutual co-operation and adventure.

Organized crimes may be defined as unlawful activities of members of highly organized, disciplined association engaged in supplying illegal goods and services, including but not limited to gambling, prostitution, loan sharking, narcotics, labor racketeering, and other unlawful activities of members of such associations.

Dr. Walter Reckless defines organized crime as an unlawful misadventure carried out by a boss, his lieutenants, and operators who form a hierarchal structure for a specific period.

The object of organized criminals is to wrest exorbitant profits from society by any possible means and the objective is sought to be achieved by making illegal goods and services to the consumers, who may need such goods and services and in a number of other ways. Organized crime is thus the product of self-perpetuating criminal conspiracy involving the ruthless exploitation of social, political, and economic institutions of society. The phenomenon thrives on muscle power and corruption; fear caused by the muscle power and corruption and by the illegal money generated by the organized crime itself.

Characteristics of Organized Crime

  1. The criminal group operates beyond lifetime of individual and is made in a way to survive change in leadership.
  2. The criminal group is structed in a hierarchical way, where interdependent offices are devoted for accomplishment of a particular function.
  3. The criminal group acts as an enterprise and has a corporate structure to it.
  4. The criminal group relies on continuing criminal activity to generate income. Thus, continuing criminal conspiracy is inherent in organized crime.
  5. The goal of organized crime groups is to make money; members also gain a sense of pride, power, and protection.
  6. The membership in the core criminal group is restricted and based on common traits such as ethnicity, criminal background or common interests. The potential members are subjected to a lot of scrutiny and required to prove their worth and loyalty to the criminal group. The rules of membership include secrecy, a willingness to commit any act for the group and intent to protect the group. In return for loyalty, the member of a criminal group receives economic benefits, certain prestige, and protection from law enforcement.

Types of Organized Criminal Groups

Criminal organizations may operate in various types of criminal groups which may be categorized under the following heads:

  1. Organized Predatory Crime
  2. Crime syndicate;
  3. Criminal racket;
  4. Political graft.

Organized Predatory Crime

Crimes which do not involve any kind of service to the affected person or persons are called predatory crimes. It is essential that there is only a one-way transaction, i.e., the gangsters by committing crime enjoys the entire benefit from the same without any apparent or actual service to the victims. Some of the commonly occurring predatory crimes are theft, dacoity, extortion, kidnapping, pick-pocketing, etc. The most peculiar characteristics of predatory crimes are that the victim of such crime is a total loser without any material gain or advantage or service from offender.

A few criminals join together to organize into a ‘gang’ and carry-on criminal activities as a joint venture. The gangs of dicots, kidnappers, pick-pocketers are all organized joint ventures. Of late, there has been an emergence of terrorism as a predatory crime as well. This terrorism can be of many kinds, such as, religious terrorism, political terrorism, narco-terrorism, etc. it basically involves violence and killing, thus, posing a serious law and order problem. The emergence of the modern technology and weapons has facilitated the growth of terrorism as a predatory crime.

Crime Syndicate

Crime syndicate refers to a gang of criminals engaged in a business activity of providing some forbidden or illegal service to their customers who are delirious of having it and are willing to pay handsomely for that service. These syndicates operate because of the availability of market for certain illegal prohibited service. Some of the commonly practiced crime syndicate activities include gambling, bootlegging, commercialized prostitution, supply of prohibited narcotic drugs and other intoxicants, etc. There is a possibility of enormous profit in fulfilment of these illegal demands, and this is the main consideration involved in organization of criminal syndicates.

Crime syndicates are master-minded by highly skilled and professionalized gang leaders. Criminal syndicates make huge profits and it is primarily due to the fact that these gangs secure monopolies in illegal operation of that service. Those monopolies are secured by persuasion, intimidation, violence, and even murder. These gangsters often are offered secured protection and shelter by law-abiding persons in carrying on their criminal activities for soliciting an illegal service.

Criminal Racket

Racketeering is the practice of systematic extortion under some kind of threat, usually a personal injury or property. According to Donald Taft it is an organized crime in which the criminal elements perform a service to such members of society who are normally engaged in some legitimate business activity. The main difference between racketeering and syndicate is that service involved in a racket is rendered to those who are normally engaged in a legitimate activity while in case of syndicate the service is altogether prohibited and illegal. Persons who are exploited by racketeers are sometimes convinced of the value of service taken by them even at the cost of their own exploitation. Some of the common operating rackets are:

  1. Business Labour Racket – Laborers demand a high cost whereas, the businesses only want to make huge profits. Thus, the interest of these two classes often lead to a conflict in pursuit of their desired ends. The employers’ resort to illegitimate means by utilizing unorganized workers and racketeers to jeopardize the bargaining capacity of labors.

In another type of racket, salary by racketeers is drawn in the name of certain fictious people who do not actually work in the organization, but their attendance is marked by the parties participating in the racket. Thus, the racketeers make the deal profitable to themselves in liaison with the employers and in return offer them protection against strikes and possible labor unrest.

  1. Gambling Racket – The tendency of people to take chances and try their luck, coupled with hope of gaining something out of nothing is the main consideration which underlies the gambling racket. Horse races, animal combats, ball games are some of the common types of gambling rackets that exist.

Political Graft

It is believed that persons of high status who carryon legitimate business and professional criminals are inter-connected through political grafts. Politicians, in order to achieve some desired position and power often seek support from notorious criminals and utilize them for illegal practices and to meet their political ends, i.e., win at an election.  The grafts often resort to all kinds of illegal and illegitimate methods to bring success to their employers. These hired professionals do not even hesitate to resort to violence and threats to make voters cast their votes in favor of the candidate for whom they are working. Vote buying is a common example of political graft.


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