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Organized Crime - Impacts Of Global Organized Crime

international mafia laundering worldwide

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, organized crime in the United States was far different than decades earlier when a few powerful Mafia families dominated the country. Modern organized crime activity still includes the American mob, motorcycle gangs, and street gangs but has an increasing number of gangs based in foreign nations.

A major concern for the FBI has been the worldwide cooperation of organized crime groups, forming international partnerships of mutual interest. Major international crime syndicates who partner with U.S. groups include the Russian Mafia, Japanese Yakuza, Chinese Triads, Mexican Mafia, South American drug cartels, West African and Caribbean groups, as well as the continued cooperation of Italian and Sicilian organized crime. In addition to Chinese and Japanese crime operations, many smaller Asian groups are based in Taiwan, North and South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos.

International crime groups still deal in their traditional criminal activities but continue to expand their range of goods and services. Drug trafficking remains a top moneymaker, but weapons, diamonds, luxury cars, and even natural resources such as oil from Russia can all be smuggled and traded illegally. Because of the vast profits involved, money laundering has become the number one crime worldwide. Drug profits alone were close to $100 billion each year in the early 2000s.

Organized crime has also benefited from advances in electronic technology. Information speeds around the world ignoring borders and trade restrictions. Hacking into the computer systems of businesses and financial institutions has become a favored organized crime activity. Criminals can extort a business or a nation with computer viruses. In addition, LGT Bank in Liechtenstein, Germany, suspected of money laundering for criminal organizations, was raided by police in 2000. Many offshore banks granted anonymity in banking transactions so the money laundering would be hard for authorities to trace back to its source. (AP/Wide World Photos) there is identify theft, credit card fraud, bank fraud (see chapter 6, White-Collar Crime), counterfeiting, creating fake identification such as passports, and many more crimes made possible by computer technology.

To deal with organized crime and its worldwide connections, the FBI established its Organized Crime Section. Responsibilities are subdivided into three units: the La Cosa Nostra/Italian Organized Crime/Labor Racketeering Unit; the Eurasian Organized Crime Unit; and the Asian/African Criminal Enterprise Unit. Through these units the FBI attempts to disrupt and shut down international and U.S. organized crime.

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