THE DEFINITION AND
STRUCTURE OF ORGANIZED CRIME
Upon completing this chapter, the student should be able to:
the various definitions of the term organized crime.
explain the attributes identified by law enforcement agencies and
researchers as indicative of organized crime.
the differences between terrorism and organized crime.
the bureaucratic/corporate structural model of organized crime.
the patrimonial/patron-client network structural model of organized
A. Burglary story.
B. Murder story.
C. Comparison of
Organized Crime (OC).
A. No generally
accepted definition has emerged.
B. Cressey (1969): “An
organized crime is any crime committed by a person occupying, in an
established division of labor, a position designed for the commission of
crimes providing that such division of labor includes at least one position
for a corrupter, one position for a corruptee, and one position for an
C. U.S. Department of
Justice (1970): “[A]ll illegal activities engaged in by members of criminal
syndicates operative throughout the United States and all illegal activities
engaged in by known associates and confederates of such members.”
D. Warsaw international
conference (1998): “Group activities of three or more persons, with
hierarchical links or personal relationships, which permit their leaders to
earn profits or control territories or markets, internal or foreign, by means
of violence, intimidation or corruption, both in furtherance of criminal
activity and to infiltrate the legitimate economy.”
E. Smith (1975) and
Paoli (2003) suggest an entrepreneurial conception that avoids the ethnic
overtones inherent in the term “organized crime.”
F. Maltz (1976) cited a
problem of semantics, with most definitions calling a specific behavior or act
OC, while the generic meaning of OC usually refers to a group of people or an
entity. “An organized crime is a crime in which there is more than one
offender, and the offenders are and intend to remain associated with one
another for the purpose of committing crimes.”
G. The United Nations
Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime (2000): “[An] organised
criminal group shall mean a structured group of three or more persons,
existing for a period of time and acting in concert with the aim of committing
one or more serious crimes or offences established in accordance with this
Convention, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other
identified as indicative of organized crime include its:
1. lack of political
3. limited or exclusive
4. constitution as a
6. willingness to use
illegal violence and bribery;
specialization/division of labor;
8. monopolism; and
9. governance by
explicit rules and regulations.
III. Terrorism and Organized Crime.
A. Differentiated by means and ends.
1. Terrorists use their
funds to further political ends, overthrow governments, and impose their
2. OC seeks to form a
parallel government that coexists with the legitimate government.
B. Motivations of
criminals and terrorists may, however, overlap.
IV. The Structure of Organized Crime.
A. Two contrasting
B. All OC groups
approximate one of these models, viewed as a continuum.
V. The Bureaucratic/Corporate Model.
A. A bureaucracy is the
mode of organization that is essential for efficiently carrying out
B. As rational
organizations that share a number of attributes, bureaucracies:
1. are complicated
2. employ an extensive
division of labor;
3. assign positions on
the basis of skill;
4. are impersonal in
the execution of responsibilities;
5. are guided by
extensive written rules and regulations; and
6. communicate from the
top of the hierarchy to persons on the bottom, usually in written (memo) form.
C. The model of
organization adopted by an entity, whether legitimate or criminal, will depend
on the scope of its operations and the organizational experience of its
VI. Patrimonial/Patron-Client Networks.
A. Fear of compromised communications makes many aspects of the bureaucratic
model impractical for criminal organizations. As a result:
1. Information, orders,
money, and other goods are typically transferred face-to-face.
2. Span of control is
limited because lengthy chains of command are impractical.
3. Control is a special
problem because of the inability to establish command oversight.
4. Extensive geographic
expansion usually leads to organizational collapse into feudalism.
B. Moore (1987)
suggests highly centralized control “tends to make the enterprise too
dependent on the knowledge and judgment of the top management, and wastes the
knowledge and initiative of subordinate managers who know more about their own
capabilities and how they fit into a local environment of risks and
control is advantageous for both business and security reasons.
Patrimonial/patron-client networks characterize most American Mafia groups.
E. Boissevain (1974)
describes networks as “the chains of persons with whom a given person is in
1. Because contact can
be through a chain of persons, an individual can establish contact with far
more people than he or she knows directly.
2. These contacts are
the “friends of friends,” a phrase that in Sicily refers to mafiosi.
3. An unbalanced social
exchange relationship is a patron-client relationship.
a. Patrons provide
economic aid and protection.
b. Clients repay with
intangible assets such as esteem and loyalty.
c. Patrons act as power
brokers between clients and the wider society.
4. While patrons need a
great deal of time to manage their networks, develop and maintain contacts,
provide services, enhance their power and income, and keep well informed, they
typically accomplish these tasks on unstructured schedules. (These are not
5. Criminal activities
within a patron’s geographic territory that are not under his “patronage” as
referred to as “outlaw” operations. In such cases, patrons:
a. will not intervene
to assist “outlaw” criminals who are arrested;
b. will quash “outlaw”
criminal activities that conflict with those under his patronage by arranging
(through the passage of discreet information) police raids or unleashing
underlings to do violence on the “outlaw” criminals; and
c. may force
independent operators to share their criminal activities (pay tribute) to
receive “protection” from police raids or being victimized by violence.
criminals not affiliated with OC often pay financial tribute to an OC patron
as concrete recognition of the patron’s power.
a. Such recognition
shows the professional’s rispetto (respect) for the patron.
b. Respect is an
important cultural element within the OC subculture.
c. The rendering of
appropriate respect enables non-OC affiliated criminals to secure vital
information and assistance, and ensures that other criminals will not
jeopardize their operations.
7. Scott (1981) used
the term natural system to describe the typical American Mafia Family
patrimonial/patron-client network, which includes:
a. the boss (paterfamilias)
who is the patron;
b. an underboss (sottocapo);
c. a counselor/advisor
d. captains (capiregime)
who are clients of the boss/patron as well as patrons to their own underlings;
e. other non-OC
affiliated clients of the boss/patron; and
e. Members or soldiers
(soldati) who are clients of the captains.
8. Members of natural
a. are not necessarily
guided by organizational goals;
b. share a common
interest in the survival of the system; and
c. engage in collective
activities informally structured to secure system survival.
9. As a natural system,
OC is fundamentally a collection of social groups attempting to adapt and
survive in a dangerous environment.
10. Mafia Family
members, or “made guys,” are essentially franchisees. As independent
a. share their criminal
profits with the captain/patron;
b. are protected by the
Family from other criminals; and
c. have unlimited
access to the Family’s network.
Although there is no
generally accepted definition of OC, nine attributes help distinguish it from
terrorists or groups of conventional criminals. These include the facts that
limited or exclusive membership;
constitutes a unique subculture;
willingness to use illegal violence and bribery;
demonstrates specialization/division of labor;
governed by explicit rules and regulations.
The criminality of
persons in OC differs from that of conventional criminals because the OC
organization allows them to commit crimes of a different variety and on a
larger scale than their less organized colleagues can. Organizational
affiliation provides a form of credentialing and networking that facilitates
cooperation between criminals that would not otherwise occur.
Contemporary OC can
manifest two contrasting organizational models, the bureaucratic/ corporate
model and the patrimonial/patron-client network. These
models represent two ends of a continuum; criminal groups, if they are to be
defined as organized, can be located somewhere along this continuum.
The military represents the quintessential bureaucratic organization, whereas
American Mafia groups fall into the patron-client network model.
the criminality of persons in OC differ from that of conventional criminals?
the nine attributes of OC?
terrorism differ from OC?
the attributes of a bureaucracy?
the characteristics of a patrimonial organization?
the patron-client model of OC differ from the bureaucratic?
the role of a patron in OC?
How can a
member of OC act as a catalyst for a great deal of conventional criminal
an organizational affiliation enhance the ability of a criminal to engage in
American Mafia, how does being a “made guy” provide a form of franchise?