Organized crime threatens peace and human security, violates human rights and undermines economic, social, cultural, political and civil development of societies around the world.
Transnational organized crime manifests in many forms, including as trafficking in drugs, firearms and even persons. At the same time, organized crime groups exploit human mobility to smuggle migrants and undermine financial systems through money laundering. The vast sums of money involved can compromise legitimate economies and directly impact public processes by ‘buying’ elections through corruption. It yields high profits for its culprits and results in high risks for individuals who fall victim to it.
Organized crime has diversified, gone global and reached macro-economic proportions: illicit goods may be sourced from one continent, trafficked across another, and marketed in a third. Transnational organized crime can permeate government agencies and institutions, fuelling corruption, infiltrating business and politics, and hindering economic and social development. And it is undermining governance and democracy by empowering those who operate outside the law.
The transnational nature of organized crime means that criminal networks forge bonds across borders as well as overcome cultural and linguistic differences in the commission of their crime. Organized crime is not stagnant, but adapts as new crimes emerge and as relationships between criminal networks become both more flexible, and more sophisticated, with ever-greater reach around the globe.
Organized Crime can be looked upon as the unlawful activities of the members of a highly organized, disciplined association engaged in supplying illegal goods and services. Its’ essence is continuing illegal activities for generating illegal profits, the collective result of the commitment, knowledge and actions of three components – criminal groups, protectors (politicians, bureaucrats) and specialist supporters. It is a non-ideological enterprise only for the purpose of profit.
Organized crime mainly exploits legitimate activities for criminal purposes. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) tried to give a definition to “organized crime” in the UNODC Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The convention defines an “organized criminal group” as
- A group of three or more persons that was not randomly formed;
- Existing for a period of time;
- Acting in concert with the aim of committing at least one crime punishable by at least four years’ incarceration;
- In order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit.
The implied definition ‘transnational organized crime’ then encompasses virtually all profit-motivated serious criminal activities with international implications. This broad definition takes account of the global complexity of the issue and allows cooperation on the widest possible range of common concerns.
Organized crime is characterized by a strong and ruthless leader, a hierarchy, a strong code of conduct for its members and above all, the goal of power and profit. What makes organized crime organized is its ability to serve as a government for the underworld, providing services, allocating resources and territories and settling disputes.
Organized crimes are supported by coordination of criminal acts by individual criminals. Examples: Smuggling, organized prostitution, illegal distillation of alcoholic breweries.
Organized crimes always grow of petty crimes. Syndicated crimes are the sophisticated organized crimes. Syndication comes into existence in order to avoid inter-conflicts among different criminal gangs. Syndicate crime becomes much more efficient with mutual benefits like illegal flow of money, weapons and people also.