About Organized Crime
When you think of organized crime, you probably picture the Italian and Sicilian Mafioso of television and the silver screen. But in recent years, the face of organized crime has changed, and the threat is broader and more complex than ever.
Today, organized crime includes:
- Russian mobsters who fled to the U.S. in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse;
- Groups from African countries like Nigeria that engage in drug trafficking and financial scams;
- Chinese tongs, Japanese Boryokudan, and other Asian crime rings; and
- Enterprises based in Eastern European nations like Hungary and Romania.
All of these groups have a presence in the U.S. or are targeting our citizens from afar—using the Internet and other technologies of our global age. More and more, they are literally becoming partners in crime, realizing they have more to gain from cooperating than competing.
The Impact of Organized Crime
It isn’t easily measured, but we know it’s significant. Organized crime rings manipulate and monopolize financial markets, traditional institutions like labor unions, and legitimate industries like construction and trash hauling. They bring drugs into our cities and raise the level of violence in our communities by buying off corrupt officials and using graft, extortion, intimidation, and murder to maintain their operations. Their underground businesses—including prostitution and human trafficking—sow misery nationally and globally. They also con us out of millions each year through various stock frauds and financial scams.
The economic impact alone is staggering: it’s estimated that global organized crime reaps illegal profits of around $1 trillion per year.
Fighting Organized Crime
To combat the ongoing threat posed by these groups, we have a long-established—yet constantly evolving—organized crime program dedicated to eliminating the criminal enterprises that pose the greatest threat to America.
Dismantling and disrupting major international and national organized criminal enterprises is a longstanding area of FBI expertise. We have the experience and training to target criminal enterprises, the broad statutory jurisdictions to bring down entire organizations rather than just individuals, and a presence throughout the nation and the world.
Our Organized Crime Program is based on the following framework:
- Employing a methodology that yields maximum impact with our limited resources;
- Pursuing targets that have direct ties to significant national and international criminal enterprises and systematically dismantling those enterprises;
- Remaining flexible enough to pursue regional organized crime groups conducting significant racketeering activity; and
- Ensuring that our targets are permanently dismantled or significantly disrupted.
We are also reaching out globally. Partners all over the world help us track down criminals and provide critical information during investigations. We even have agents working side-by-side with colleagues in Italy, Hungary, and elsewhere.
How We’re Organized to Combat Organized Crime
The Organized Crime Section at FBI Headquarters is divided into three units, devoted to La Cosa Nostra, Italian organized crime and racketeering; Eurasian/Middle Eastern organized crime; and Asian and African criminal enterprises.
Our headquarters is tasked with the overall coordination and support of all organized crime investigations. Each of our 56 field offices investigates criminal enterprises within its own territory and relies on headquarters for additional support and help.
We also participate in joint task forces with other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. These task forces allow us to pool resources of various agencies, taking advantage of the efficiencies of each of these agencies to combat organized crime.