organized crime

Introduction

organized crime, criminal activities organized and coordinated on a national scale, often with international connections. The American tradition of daring desperadoes like Jesse James and John Dillinger, has been superseded by the corporate criminal organization. Firmly rooted in the social structure, it is protected by corrupt politicians and law enforcement officers, and legal advice; it profits from such activities as gambling, prostitution, and the illicit use of narcotics.

Organized crime is not limited to Western countries. The Japanese have the very public and active Yakuza and Boryokudan. During the Cold War the Russian Mafia used its connections in the Communist party to establish a vast black market network, and in the power vacuum that followed the fall of Communism the brutal group became even wealthier, more influential, and more successful.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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