Organized crime is a group of individuals, either local, national or international, that engage in criminal enterprises for profit. The rationale behind why they are formed varies because they may be politically motivated, financially motivated or an organized criminal ‘gang.’ We will look at the makeup of these organizations in this lesson.
There are three ways in which networks are formed within organized crime. The first is within a family, what we often refer to as a mafia. This form of organized crime operates based on the hierarchies of the related families, training of family members, reliance on religion, tradition and culture.
The second way in which a network is formed is through a business. These organized crime groups are rigid, have a complex authority hierarchy and are impersonal. These tend to be particularly dangerous for the members due to the impersonal nature of the organizational members, the lack of familial or interpersonal loyalties to other members, and the importance of power relationships rather than protection of family members as in the prior network.
The third way in which a network is formed is through a ‘gang.’ These members are often recruited through members’ involvement in crime as youths and the connections made in the correctional facilities. Members often join a gang for protection or the need to belong, typically due to their lack of a support system in their homes. Some gangs have a loose hierarchy, especially when dealing with drugs, firearms or sex trafficking. Infamous criminal gangs around the United States include the Aryan Brotherhood, Latin Kings and Hells Angels.