Organized crime refers to any crime that is committed by or through well-structured groups, and involves the provision of illegal or manipulative services or goods as a means of acquiring undue income, property, or finical gain. It is structured just like a normal business organization and is partitioned into different wings in a pyramid shaped hierarchy. Such crimes usually employ threats, violence, force, and sometimes bribery to continue with its operations of grievous and dubious acts. Organized crime includes activities such as illegal gambling, narcotics trade, credit card fraud, kidnapping for ransom, prostitution, gunrunning, insurance fraud, vehicle theft, racketeering, pornography, and smuggling among other crimes (Klaus von Lampe, 2010).
In 1975, the United Nations defined organized crime as a complex and large-scale criminal activity that is carried out by tightly or loosely structured groups of individuals, for the benefit of its participants at the expense and loss of the society, community, nation, and its members. The crime is frequently accomplished through inconsiderate disregard of any rule or law, plus a frequent cooperation with political movements and corruption. Other sources define it as; any group that has a corporate structure and aims to acquire money from the public through any illegal activity such as corruption, fraud, or infliction of fear to citizens (United Nations, 2004).
Organized crime has spread dramatically to cover every segment of a nation and its society due to the advent of internet, communication technology, and international/global terrorism. It uses manipulative and very sophisticated tactics and credible front-organizations in transfer and movement of hefty amounts of cash and weaponry from one location to the other. Organized crime is distinguished from other common crimes through characteristics such as identifiable leadership; coordinated activities involving hundreds or thousands operatives; national, regional, or transnational scale of functioning and operations; large volume of turnover; non-random unique nature of criminal behavior; pursuit of both power and profit, and diversification of activity. With this network and operations, it is quite true to say that doing something to curb the growth organized crime it is not easy. However, I feel that the criminal justice systems in a majority of countries including the United States’ are working round the clock to employ measures that police organized crime and restrict its spread and outburst. This paper discusses some of the criminal justice system’s response towards organized crime.
The key to a proper and well-managed response to organized crime by criminal justice systems lies squarely in understanding of the changing treads in criminal activities and environment. A collaborative and cooperative response by agencies, which are not included in the law enforcement agencies’ umbrella but are responsible for monitoring and regulation of key sectors can also aid in the control of organized crime (Australian Crime Commission, 2009). Criminal justice agencies have also taken a major step of criminalizing all participations and activities in organized crime. An agreement with one person or many people to commit a crime for a purpose obtaining other material benefits or financial gain directly or indirectly from other people is considered as organized crime by the agencies.
Criminal justice agencies have repeatedly collaborated with other bodies such as the Criminology Institutes, National Drug, and Alcohol research Centre and the National Council on Drugs to come up with a more holistic picture of the criminal offences and various categories illicit drug market interactions and fraud. The agency is a key contributor and is likely to benefit from existing or proposed research initiatives being made by these organizations and bodies. The collaborating organizations together with criminal justice agencies look into several areas of organized crimes to add perspective control measures to the crime through updating of their datasets and knowledge on the commission of organized crime its environment.
High-risk funds Methodology is another key component of the criminal justice agencies response to organized crime. This approach analyzes financial data and reports with an aim of isolating high-risk money movements and identification of its targets (Den Boer, 2001). It entails the examining, scrutinizing, and understanding of the operations of economic criminal through analytical, and economical modeling of trade, finances and other data, retrieved from other private and public sources. Data retrieved from overtly recorded money lows is analyzed by the application of specific agreed algorithms and risk assessment methodology to identify and isolate high-risk funds. The entities that have been identified as being associated with the high-risk funds operations undergo thorough and extensive examination by the national law enforcement agencies to identify other intended targets for further assessments and development.
A tailored prevention and intervention response to organized crime can be developed in conjunction with all the criminal justice system partner agencies, through employment of risk-based approach that is weighted to the wealth-generating capacity and financial structures of a criminal organization. This approach seeks to enhance the strategic intelligence picture in the enforcement of efforts to disrupt and totally disband criminal organizations, enterprises, and entities while confiscating their illegally acquired illicit funds.
Another key response by the criminal justice agencies to organized crime is their active involvement in increasing public awareness of the activities and operations of organized criminal groups. This plays a major role in the effective reduction and prevention of such activity.
Many fraudulent moves are rendered ineffective when potential victim has the ability of recognize the attempted or planed crime. The criminal agencies advocate that organized crime can be prevented and kept under control through the improvement of channels and processes that support the identification and verification of such crimes. This can be done through extensive education and sensitization of the community on the techniques and operations of the criminal organizations (Australian Crime Commission, 2011). November 23th 2009, the Attorney general of Commonwealth launched a booklet entitled ‘Protecting your Identity’, which gives strategies and advice on how to protect financial, personal information and computer data from the reach of organized criminals. The booklet also outlines the appropriate penalties and courses of action against criminals committing identity theft and frauds, as well as listing of government resources that help individuals protect their personal information.
Organized crime has the ability to adapt and resist criminal justice enforcement efforts. Criminal justice enforcement applies special tools that include surveillance, a range of investigative and specialized analytical techniques, coercive powers, and covert intelligence to topple and overcome their resistance. Tactical law enforcement responses by the criminal justice agencies have continued to be predominantly helpful toward matters of organized crime affecting a single jurisdiction or region. It is worldwide recognition that specialized and proactive law enforcement approaches are critical to the success and achievements of criminal justice enforcement efforts in curbing organized crime. The understanding of the extent, type, and nature of organized crime footprints in key potential sectors and markets, along with the characterization and identification of networks and persons engaged in organized crime, is a major breakthrough in the fight against the crime (Moran, 2004). Criminal justice agencies in collaboration with the State, Commonwealth law enforcement agencies, and territory governments have adopted such measures and are enacting them as affirmative response measures to organized crime.
Another response action by the criminal justice agencies to organized crime is the decriminalization or legalization the goods and services, which form a basis market for the activities and operations most organized crime. Rather having the focus on organized crime group members, the criminal justice system has shifted its attention to such tactics. Many analysts, who argue that it is essential to focus on the surroundings and conditions within which the organizations and businesses that abet organized crime operate, have backed this response towards the control of organized crime. The agencies feel that, organized crime may require legal certified market for their operations and business rather than the deployment of strictly enforcement laws. Such intervention is aimed only at legitimate markets such as the legalized gambling in centers and state lotteries (United Nations, 2004). This approach provides an alternative to a businesses and service that would otherwise be available in illicit or black markets. However, this approach may pose more risks since the legalization of such sectors will automatically results in the collapse of illegal markets.
Criminal justice agencies are developing new and increasingly sophisticated techniques and tools for isolation, identification, and prevention of the theft, misuse, and falsification of another person’s identity for financial gains. An approached adopted by the agencies to combat such crime include interception and examination of suspicious identity in any business transaction. This is because identity theft is increasingly developing to be an integral part of everyday financial exchange and activities. The criminal justice agencies are working to see to it that it is not possible to perform any business transaction with a hidden of identity. Hiding and disguise of one’s identity has been one of the tactics employed by the criminals as an aid to the successful operation of their criminal groups and organizations (Australian Crime Commission, 2009). The agencies have authorized all internet and online environments businesses to adhere to the strict cyberspace regulations to minimize chances of any fraudulent acts by the criminals.
On issues regarding organized crimes such as human and drug trafficking, the criminal justice system has moved to put in place strict measures and penalties against such offences. Part of their action plan in stumping out this illegal organized criminal trade includes a range of renewed commitments and strategies, which involves significant reforms to policies, laws, and practices. These types of crimes are categorized, as aggravated offences that are capable of attracting greater penalties in circumstances were minors are involved. The agencies have also linked drug and human trafficking as another contributor to other organized crimes such as money laundering. An effective fight against it helps in the destruction of other organized crimes too. In addition to the strict federal anti-trafficking rules and laws, the criminal justice system insists that all jurisdictions must have a range of trafficking offence provisions to cover all the related crimes. This includes kidnapping, sexual, and physical assault, deprivation of liberty and forced prostitution. Together with other agencies and organization, the criminal justice system conducts routine immigration and border crossing investigation to fish out any trafficking offences (Australian Crime Commission, 2011).
Organized crime may be influenced by political and natural change, just like any other natural phenomena. There are usually a number of economical and political variables, which may lead to the creation of new criminal context in different societies. The variations in organized crime may be explained by the type and level of security restrictions and controls (Moran, 2004). The structure and types of incentives and opportunities that occur to organized criminal organizations and the capacity and ability of important social policing factors such as political groups and criminal justice systems to take considerate measures against the prevalence of such organizations may also explain the regional variance of the crime.
In conclusion, I strongly support and recommend as best the response of criminal justice system to organized crime. It is true that not all the measures and regulations that they have put in place eradicates these structured organizations, but I believe that it has done much in minimizing outrageous occurrences of the crime in most parts of the world. The responses of criminal justice system to organized crimes may be facing more difficulties due to the daily technological advancements that enable the crafty criminals to come up with new techniques and operations that bypass the set law and regulation. Despite the trickery and manipulative traits of the organized criminals, they have always found themselves behind bar curtsey of the simple laid down measures by criminal justices system.
Australian Crime Commission. (2009). The Future of Organized Crime: Organized Crime in Australia. Retrieved from http://www.crimecommission.gov.au/publications/oca/_files/2009/2009_oca_complete.pdf
Australian Crime Commission. (2011). The Response to Organized Crime in Australia: Understanding Changes In Organized Crime and Crime Markets. Australian Crime Commission. Retrieved from http://www.crimecommission.gov.au/publications/crime-profile-series/response.htm
Den Boer, M. (2001). The Fight against Organized Crime in Europe: A Comparative Perspective. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research 9(3): 264-265.
Klaus von Lampe. (2010). Definitions of Organized Crime. Retrieved from http://www.organized-crime.de/OCDEF1.htm
Moran, J. (2004). Paramilitaries, ‘Ordinary Decent Criminals’ and the Development of Organized Crime Following the Belfast Agreement. International Journal of the Sociology of Law, 32(1): 263–278.
United Nations. (2004). United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and The Protocols Thereto. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved from http://www.unodc.org/documents/treaties/UNTOC/Publications/TOC%20Convention/TOCebook-e.pdf