Organized crime

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Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit. Some criminal organizations, such as terrorist organizations, are politically motivated (see Violent non-state actor (VNSA)). Gangs may become "disciplined" enough to be considered "organized". An organized gang or criminal set can also be referred to as a mob.

Mafia is a term used to describe a number of criminal organizations around the world. The first organization to bear the label was the Sicilian Mafia based in Sicily, known to its members as Cosa Nostra. In the United States, "the Mafia" generally refers to the Italian American Mafia. Other powerful organizations described as mafias include the Russian Mafia, the Irish Mob, the Chinese Triads, the Albanian Mafia, Bosnian mafia, the Japanese Yakuza, the Neapolitan Camorra, the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta, the Apulian Sacra Corona Unita, the Indian Mafia, the Unione Corse, Serbian Mafia, the Mexican Mafia and the Bulgarian mafia. There are also a number of localized mafia organizations around the world bearing no link to any specific ethnic background.

In the United States the Organized Crime Control Act (1970) defines organized crime as "The unlawful activities of [...] a highly organized, disciplined association [...]".[1] Criminal activity as a structured group is referred to as racketeering and such crime is commonly referred to as the work of the Mob.


Origins and conceptual background

Today, crime is sometimes thought of as an urban phenomenon, but for most of human history it was the rural world that was crime-ridden. Pirates, highwaymen and bandits attacked trade routes and roads, at times severely disrupting commerce, raising costs, insurance rates and prices to the consumer. According to criminologist Paul Lunde, "Piracy and banditry were to the pre-industrial world what organized crime is to modern society."[2]

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