Recently, organized crime has been viewed as one of the top issues of the international agenda. Besides, one of the most dangerous unintended consequences of globalization process is regarded to be the rapid increase of transnational organized crime groups, which is a phenomenon of multi-faceted nature. “Organized criminal groups are spreading their operations around the globe and engaging with an increased level of sophistication in a variety of activities that range from the traditional to the modern” (Vlassis, 2000). Thus, the Italian-American mafia serves as a vivid image of organized crime, although it bears variability between fictional patterns and real organized criminal activity. Moreover, the structure of modern organized criminal groups does not necessarily equal to the hierarchy of classical organized crime groups like Italian Mafia. The primary goal of organized crime groups is making money rather than ideological reasons that differentiate those groups from terrorist groups for instance.
There is no clear definition of organized crime. According to Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (P.L. 90-351), organized crime embraces “the unlawful activities of the members of a 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 organizations” (Finklea, 2010). By this, the described unlawful action viewed as an organized crime by a group of criminals in terms of their illicit activities. Therefore, here the key point is the law violation and not the criminal organization proper. Nevertheless, this kind of definition not only encompasses the activities of organized criminal groups but may also cover corrupt business or terrorist groupings. It has served as a reason for the repealing of this definition “in Justice System Improvement Act of 1979 (P.L. 96-157), leaving the United States with no statutory definition of organized crime” (Finklea, 2010).
As a result, a definition of organized crime appears to be based on various interpretations of writers who were working on the determination. Meanwhile, organized unlawful action may be defined as either the activities through which it is viewed or by the groups being involved. North America has proved to have become a scene of organized crimes emerging and combating them. In this region, organized crime has embraced a variety of groups in terms of conducting criminal actions. Therefore, it “is characterised by planned illegal acts involving multiple offenders that are ongoing or recurrent, rather than isolated incidents” (Albanese, 2004).
The Department of Justice is the institution with one of its top priorities in combating organized crime. Since transnational organized crime has been a serious threat to the world order of most of the twentieth century, it is not viewed as a threat to the nation-state. Currently, international organized criminal activities threaten the lives and properties of American citizens “by committing every imaginable type of serious crime, from sophisticated cyber crimes to trafficking in human beings, the theft of intellectual property to money laundering, traditional rackets, and labor racketeering, all protected by a vicious cycle of corruption and violence” (Ott, 2012). With the rapid rise of organized criminal activities, the necessity in fighting with those organized groupings has increased as well. Therefore, in July 2011, the White House Strategy of Combat Transnational Organized Crime was announced. It was created “around a single unifying principle: to build, balance, and integrate the tools of American power to combat transnational organized crime and related threats to national security – and to urge our foreign partners to do the same” concerning both national and international security (Ott, 2012).
Obviously, the enforcement of United States international law has improved and increased its ability to fight with transnational criminals, as international organized law-infringers have adapted their skills and tactics and used to modern technologies over time. Thus, a new strategic program is being developed in order to fight the threat of international organized crime. Both Justice Department and Federal Law Enforcement agencies are working on detailed plan concerning effective combat of international organized crime. According to Mukasey’s viewpoint, the new strategic program embraces prosecution framework “as committed and connected as the international organized crime structure it must combat” (Seper, 2008). Besides, the federal agencies assist in gathering organized crime information in order to reach the mutual goal of ending the threats. With the help of this strategy, transnational organized crimes must be prosecuted in the same way in which they pursue the illegal activities. Moreover, this kind of cooperation, especially mutual information gathering, may help in dismantling “these global, sophisticated organizations that have exploited geopolitical, economic, social, and technological changes over the last two decades to become increasingly active worldwide” (Seper, 2008).
In every case of organized crime, the main goal is to combat the highest link of a crime organization, which is the prior task of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Statute. It embraces tough penalties including life imprisonment in case of defendant conducting a predicate crime. According to the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 (P.L. 91-452) and furthermore in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, organized crime is presented in terms of “enterprise and pattern of a racketeering activity” (Finklea, 2010). By this definition, organized crime is described in terms of the illegal activities rather than essence of criminal organization.
Roughly, organized crime consists of many petty crimes that are linked to the same enterprise. Thus, all the crimes may be prosecuted within a single trial session. RICO aims at prosecuting criminal activities, emphasizing the punishment of the members of an organized grouping for the law humiliation in which each has been involved on behalf of the group. “In an ordinary RICO prosecution, often six or more racketeers are charged with perhaps a dozen or more predicate crimes extending over a decade” (Ohr, 2002). Additionally, in most predicate crimes, only several of the defendants are named. There are cases of organized crime prosecution where RICO indicts only some of the defendants for having committed over fifty offences, being a part of racketeering activities. Therefore, it may be charged as a sample of RICO limitation as far as other members of an organized group are still not imprisoned, and others are serving the sentence instead of them. Besides the imperfections, RICO has proved to become an important tool concerning organized criminal activities prevention. Moreover, it is obvious that RICO is an extremely powerful and important tool of controlling organized crime in the United States.
Certainly, there is still a plenty of work that has to be done in order to predict and control organized crime more effectively. For now, it is necessary to pay a certain attention to the data gathering improving the cooperation system in terms of better anticipating, investigating, and preventing organized criminal activity. Besides, deep knowledge of the criminal environment and particular skills may also be needed in order to predict and, thus, control the possible organized criminal activities. There is a great amount of approaches that may be used to learn about crimes, though the most spread ones are reached through offenders’ accounts, victims’ investigation, and police agencies. While using a mixture of these three sources of necessary data, an isolated from the first glance criminal case may be linked to a possible organized crime that will bring clearance of the whole range of organized criminal actions.