Organized crime invokes images of Don Vito Corleone from the Oscar-winning film The Godfather. That’s because, for the better part of the 20th Century, society thought about the mafia as the most prevalent, and successful, criminal organization.

But saving the term strictly to mobsters is near-sighted.

Organized crime can include youth and street gangs. It also encompasses patron-client networks, bureaucrats, corporations. Wherever there is power, the potential for corruption exists.

In the following article, we’ll discuss the most common forms of organized crime along with how prevalent they are. Let’s begin.

Bribery

Bribery is when you give money or goods to another person in exchange for a desired outcome. Graft can fall under this umbrella. It’s a politically driven form of bribery where a politician illegally uses position for personal gain.

When bribery happens in organized crime, multiple people are technically conspiring to unfairly affect an outcome. This requires planning and organization.

According to a global report from Statista surveying people who admitted to paying a bribe to some form of institutional representative, police are the most commonly bribed parties at 31%, followed by the judiciary at 24%. Other sectors include land services (21%), medical and health services (17%), and educators (16%).

Extortion

Coercing a desired outcome through force or the threat of force. Blackmail can fall under this banner as well, as can bank robberies involving multiple perpetrators. The FBI notes that “Over half of extortion/blackmail offenses” do not involve a weapon or force.

Embezzlement

Embezzlement occurs when funds or assets are entrusted to an individual (or, in the case of organized crime, a group of individuals), and the parties misappropriate those funds for their own use.

A 2016 embezzlement study found that four of every five employers victimized by embezzlement had fewer than 100 employees. The average loss: $807,443. People in management positions were the most likely culprits.

Illegal Drug Trade

Globally, the illegal drug trade is worth over $320 billion per year. It requires the aid of buyers, sellers, shippers, producers — it’s as organized as you can get. The most trafficked drugs include cocaine (37%), methamphetamine (24%), marijuana (21%), and heroin (10%).

Other Organized Crime Stats

Murder-for-hire plots are estimated at around 3.2% of all homicides.

Approximately $1.6 trillion in funds are laundered each year globally. That means illegally obtained monies are “cleaned” through the guise of legitimate activities.

Cybercrime, often an organized criminal activity, is expected to triple from 2015-2019. That’s $2 trillion in ill-gotten gains by the end of next year.

Defending Against Charges of Organized Crime

As you can see, organized crime can involve an array of criminal behavior from financial to violent crimes. Authorities take it very seriously. Charges of organized crime can range anywhere from steep financial penalties to jail time to life imprisonment.

If you have been accused of organized criminal activity, the first thing you should do is reach out to an attorney with experience defending such cases.

John Teakell has been doing so since 1985. Contact his offices today to discuss legal options and strategies moving forward.