Definition of Organized Crime and What Distinguishes It from Disorganized Crime

Published: 2021-07-27
956 words
4 pages
8 min to read
Harvey Mudd College
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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Organization crime is the undertaking of criminal activities by a group of individuals following a planned procedure where roles are divided amongst themselves given individual specialization and working towards a common goal economic gains among others- under an organized authority. The groups usually hold and maintain their positions through violence, extortion or corruptions (Mallory, 2012). They might also involve corrupt state officials, police and government institutions such that any cases filed against them take ages before any viable evidence is collected. This distinguishes it from disorganized crime. Moreover, they have hierarchy leadership and loyal members.

How do the United States Definitions of Organized Crime and Those of Other Countries Differ, and How are They Alike?

The United States define organized crime as an organized hierarchy that has a central directing individual and employ corruption and threats to attain desired goals particularly economic gains. This definition differs from others from different states. In New Mexico, the definition is specific, the supply of illegal products, in Europe, the definition is broad detailing factors that qualify a crime to be termed as organized. However, a common factor is shared, that is the conspiracy to attain economic gains out of criminal activities.

The Impetus of Organized Crime and The First Cases in the US

The impetus for the evolution of the organized crime in the US was the desire of power and greed for money. The first gangs saw an opportunity to make quick money which later translates into power. The American mafia conducted the first organized crime. It was performed during the prohibition era where the mafia was able to trade illicit liquor (Mallory, 2012). There was a ban on alcohol trade and production, but the market still existed. The mafia sought to serve it while it earned profits.

Theory That Best Explain Organized Crime

The rational choice Theory is probably the best theory that explains organized crime. St of the criminals weigh out the risks, benefits, and consequences of the crimes and still decide to commit them. They know the punishments if they get caught. Those who avoid committing the crimes understand they cannot come out of it without getting caught. Those who engage predefine a plan to cover their tracks through corruption and threats. They ensure that they earn respect from colleagues even after arrests (Albanese, Das & Verma, 2003).

Why Most Law Enforcers Believe That the Enterprise Theory is a Valuable Contribution to Organized Crime

The enterprise theory explains the existence of organization on the unmet desires of people in the legitimate market. This would hence motivate persons to fill in the gap by producing, importing and selling them into the market hence most law enforcers conclude it is the major contributor to organized crime. Some drugs could be offered at high prices in the legal market which many cannot afford. The criminals offer the drugs at lower prices but still leave a profit for themselves.

Why Prohibition Was Considered to Be a Patriotic Act

Prohibition was a ban on the production, importation, and sale of alcohol in the US between 1920 and 1933. Germany was the major producer of alcohol and owned salons where citizens consumed it. Legalizing the production and sale would be in support of German breweries, the enemies after WW1. Prohibition law was hence instituted as a way to correct this and ensure the citizens were sober during wars.

The Impact of Prohibition on Organized Crime

The early years of prohibition were witnessed with low drunkenness arrests, hospitalization, and alcohol-related deaths. However, resistance erupted with the addiction cravings. Groups started forming and made plans on smuggling alcohol into the US. Initially, Capone controlled the group as he had the resources to smuggle and bribe state officials. The profits and power attained motivated the rise of other illegal businesses and groups to what is referred to as organized crime today.

The President's Commission on Organized Crime and Its Revelation about Organized Crime

President's Commission on Organized Crime was a strategy used by the government to investigate how criminals made their profits and established ways to keep them away from their businesses. It revealed that close attention needed to be paid to the respectable organizations to deprive the criminals to conduct their activities, recommended the need to revise labor laws and educate public against drug usage to deplete the drug market (Albanese, Das & Verma, 2003).

The Responsibilities Assigned to Each of The Ranks of The American Mafia

The American mafia had ranks each with specific responsibilities. The boss was on the top, oversaw all the activities, collected money and made all the decision. Next was the underboss who would replace the boss and settled disputes in the family. The capos came third, made money, and were in charge of the soldiers and other departments. Next were the soldiers who instilled law and order, collected payments and protected the mafia (Australia, 2016). Associates held the lowest rank and were not family members hence no specific responsibilities. The consigliere worked with the boss as advisors.

The Downfall of Al Capone and Its Effect on Organized Crime

Al Capone was among the most influential persons and worked with the media, politicians and police department to hide his wrongs. However, some of his crimes were exposed where he was arrested and ended up serving time. He was hit hard after the discovery that he was a tax evader where he ended in prison for eleven years and came out mentally and physically weak after a syphilis attack. The downfall gave other uprising gangster groups chance to develop themselves. The organized criminal groups expanded more than before.


Albanese, J., Das, D., & Verma, A. (2003). Organized crime. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

Australia, C. (2016). Organized Crime. Cambridge MA: Cengage Learning US.

Mallory, S. (2012). Understanding organized crime. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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