Organized crime is a business operation that supplies illegal goods and services for profit. Premeditated, continuous illegal activities of organized crime include drug trafficking, prostitution, loan-sharking, money laundering, and largescale theft such as truck' hijackings (Simon, 1996). No single organization controls ull organized crime; rather, many groups operate at all levels of society. In recent decades, organized crime in the United States has become increasingly transnational in nature. Globalization of the economy and the introduction-of better communications technology have made it possible for groups around the world to operate in the United States and other nations. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has identified three major categories of organized crime groups: (I) Italian organized c'rime and racketeering, (2) Eurasian/Middle Eastern organized crime. and (3) Asian and African crirninul enterprises, as shown in Organized crime thrives because there is great demand for illegal goods and services. Criminal organizations initially gain control of illegal activities by combining threats and promises. For example. smalltime operators running drug or prostitution rings may be threatened with violence if they compete with organized crime or fail 10 make required payoffs (Cressey 1969).
Apart from their illegal enterprises, organized crime groups have infiltrated the world of legitimate business. Known linkages between legitimate businesses and organized crime exist in banking, hotels and motels, real estate, garbage collection, vending machines, construction, delivery and long-distance hauling, garment manufacture, insurance, stocks and bonds, vacation resorts, and funeral parlors (National Council on Crime and Delinquency, 1969). In addition, some law • enforcement and government officials are corrupted through bribery, campaign contributions, and favors intended to buy them off. Based 011 current economic problems in the United States, some criminologists believe that organized crime will have an even greater effect o~ur nation in the future. According to these analysts, organized crime may further weaken the U.S. economy because illegal activities such as tax evasion scams and cigarette trafficking bring about greater losses in tax revenue for state and federal governments. Organized crime groups that are.involved in areas such as commodities. credit, insurance, stocks. securities. and investments Will also have the ability to further weaken already-troubled financial and housing markets (see Finklea, 2009).