Organised Crimes Organized Crime and Government Term Paper

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Organised Crimes

Organized crime and government

Introduction and overview common definition of organized crime is, "Widespread criminal activities, such as prostitution, interstate theft, or illegal gambling, that occur within a centrally controlled formal structure" (Dictionary: organized crime). The emphasis in this definition is on the elements of control and formal structure, which differentiates this form of crime from other categories of crime

The definition of organized crime however becomes extended when the element of international or transnational crime is added. This means that the organization and activities of crime takes place across a much larger and more complex area and that the effect of this type of crime is more extensive and pervasive.

Another more expressive definition of organized crime is as follows; " Organized crime... is characterized by a few basic qualities including durability over time, diversified interests, hierarchical structure, capital accumulation, reinvestment, access to political protection and the use of violence to protect interests" (Government and organized crime: A history of co-existence, 2008). Among the more well - known organized crime organizations are the Cosa Nostra, known as Mafia, the Russian Mafia, the Japanese Yakuza, the Chinese Triads, the Colombian and the Mexican drug cartels, and the Chechen Mafia. (Government and organized crime: A history of co-existence, 2008)

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This paper will attempt to discuss the threat that modern organized crime poses to society and that way that transnational crime has increased this threat. Coupled this is the view that international crime functions and grows in many cases in conjunction and often with the assistance of various governments in the world. The center thesis that will be explored is that international organized crime is a threat that is exacerbated by the tacit and active complicity of some governments in the world.

2. The extent of organized crime

TOPIC: Term Paper on Organised Crimes Organized Crime and Government Introduction Assignment

The extent of the increasing threat of organized crime and particularly transnational organized crime was emphasized in a recent statement by the U.S. Attorney General, Michael B. Mukasey. Addressing the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, he stated that;

The challenge we face with the new breed of organized criminals is quite different from the one we faced a generation or two ago,...They are more sophisticated, they are richer, they have greater influence over government and political institutions worldwide, and they are savvier about using the latest technology, first to perpetrate and then cover up their crimes.

Attorney general targeting international organized crime).

It is suggested in this comment that organized crime groups "... have greater influence over government and political institutions worldwide." This is a particularly worrying aspect of modern organized crime. In reality, the interaction between government and organized criminals means that the influence of these groups becomes extensive and more difficult to detect and control. The task of any government is in the first instance to protect its citizens from crime and criminal abuse and if this role is not carried out adequately, then there is a concomitant increase in crime and a reduction of law and order in that society. Crime therefore permeates the very societal structures that are intended to combat it.

In his address Mukasey goes further and states that, "...international organized crime groups controlled "significant positions" in global energy and strategic materials and were expanding holdings in the U.S. materials sector" (Attorney general targeting international organized crime). The influence and growth of organized crime in the world and the United States is therefore a cause for serious concern and this has resulted in a wide range of research studies.

These studies also emphasize other reasons for the growth of organized crime internationally that are linked to various forms of access to societal and governmental structures. It has been found that one of the main reasons for the proliferation and growth of criminal groups is the increased access to information and exchange of idea that is facilitated by the modern communications and Internet technology. This process is also facilitated by the breakdown of national and international borders and barriers. This has been made possible by the increased exchange and sharing technologies and the internet.

In effect, the literature shows that international organized crime has become a problem that is characteristic of the 21st century. As Louise Shelley, Director of the Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) stresses, contemporary organized crime has assumed a particularly significance in this century.

Transnational organized crime will be one of the major problems facing policy makers in the 21st century. It will be a defining issue of the 21st century as the Cold War was for the 20th century and Colonialism was for the 19th. No area of international affairs will remain untouched as political and economic systems and the social fabric of many countries will deteriorate under the increasing financial power of international organized crime groups.(CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESOURCES: Organized Crime)

It is also significant to note that experts determine that two main identifying characteristics of modern organized crime in the United States and in areas of the world are conspiracy, and enterprise. (Kelly, Chin and Schatzberg, 1994, p. 246)

This would suggest that organized crime has evolved and has become an endemic part of the governmental and organizational structures in modern society.

2. The involvement of governments

An interesting fact that points to the extensive nature of organized crime as well to as its sophistication in contemporary society is that "Global corruption is estimated at $1 trillion, which is equal to what organized crime makes per year around the world" (Government and organized crime: A history of co-existence). An alarming aspect of the pervasiveness and growth of international organized crime is the alleged involvement of various governments in promoting and even taking and active part in criminal activities. While these allegations are difficult to prove, the collusion and the involvement of governments, whether tacit or active, is a factor that has surfaced in recent years in many reports and studies.

In the first instance a government can be considered be involved with organized crime in a tacit sense, with corruption in the government acting as a motivating factor and an impetus for the actions of various criminal organizations. In other words, criminal groups are encouraged and motivated through the example of a particular government. This is an accusation and allegation that has been made in many areas of the world. As a Turkish publication noted recently, "As long as we have politicians and government official behaving like criminals and taking bribes, criminal organizations will continue to grow" (Government and organized crime: A history of co-existence).

However, there is also the suggestion that in many cases the relationship between government and organized crimes goes further than tacit approval and providing an unfortunate example. This refers to the even more serious and worrying accusation of direct and purposeful involvement of governments in organized crime. In this regard, some studies compare the structure of government to that of criminal organizations.

Governments have heads of state, leaders, militaries, laws, taxes, customs, punishments and governments control states and go to war, among others... criminal organizations (organized crime) have bosses, dons, families, soldiers, gangs, codes and outs, protection rackets, extortion and punishments.

Government and organized crime: A history of co-existence).

The point of this comparison is that it suggests that governments are involved more directly with organized crime through corrupt officials and politicians; for example through illegal weapons sales which are legitimized by governmental officials - which is an accusation that is made in many African countries. There are various other ways in which a government can be involved in international crime; for example, the facilitation of narcotic trade, international loans, confiscation of private property and corruption etc. (Government and organized crime: A history of co-existence). Various examples of such alleged cases will be provided in the following sections.

3. The dynamics of international organized crime

In order to understand the interrelationship and interaction between governments in the world and the rise of international organized crime, it is useful to analyze the way that the modern transnational and changing world has influenced international crime syndicates and organizations. There is a subtle and complex relationship between the changes in world governments and increases in of international crime.

The modern nature of international crime is emphasized by the following quotation:"... As the world order has changed over the past decade, so too has the nature of organized crime. Not only has organized crime expanded its areas of interest to become a transnational phenomenon; it has also changed the nature of its operations" (Shaw).

In essence, international crime has become more sophisticated and has taken advantage of the changing world situation, particularly with regard to governmental structures. This refers to what is termed a 'crisis of governance' in many countries, which is situation that exists where "....state boundaries no longer inhibit the growth of criminal networks to the extent that they did previously" (Shaw). Furthermore, in many regions of the world there has been a collapse of government and a consequent change in governmental structure,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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