Organized Crime Group Analysis

Introduction

The concept of organized crime is controversial and its definition has usually been difficult. It can however be generally defined as an activity where two or more individuals come together on a constant and reserved basis with an intention of committing stern criminal acts to attain financial and other material benefits either directly or indirectly (Schneider, 2002). According to Abadinsky (2010), organized crime is an enterprise that consists of a group of individuals who are usually in close social relationships and organized hierarchically with three or more levels which act as a means of achieving profits and power through lawful and unlawful means. Among the attributes associated with organized crime are; limited membership, self perpetuation, monopolistic, presence of explicit rules and regulations, use of illegal violence, hierarchical nature, unique cultural values and nonpolitical goals. An organized crime group on the other hand is an organization or association that executes the organized crimes for instance gambling, prostitution, narcotics, labor racketeering, loan-sharking among others. Organized crime groups draw their motivation from money rather than ideology. This paper discusses various aspects associated with organized crime and crime groups with much emphasis given to the Bloods, which is a gang.

Organized Crime Group

An organized crime group is an organization that is involved in criminal activities for money and power. Organized crime has therefore been there since time immemorial. Some of the notable crime groups are; La Cosa Nostra, the Mexican drug cartels, the South American drug cartels, Asian organized crime groups, the Russian mafia and major national gangs like the Bloods, Crips, and Biker gangs among others. The organized crime groups act under certain philosophies, for instance, the use of violence, intimidation and threats to attain their goals, execution of planned criminal activities aimed at making profits, the use of corruption as a tool of protecting their interest and avoiding any form of arrest and prosecution and acting as a distinct scheme of a continuing venture that is formed around ethnic, social or business affiliation or sometimes around a certain product, service or opportunity (Mallory, 2007).

Gangs

There are many organized crime groups but I have chosen the Bloods as the case study of my research. The Bloods are a form of a gang. A gang can be described as a group of people who are involved in law violating deeds. The members may be youngsters or adults governed by some rules and regulation and a strong form of leadership. They are involved in various criminal activities where violence is a key aspect and use specific languages, signs and symbols, and colors as a form of identity and recognition. The gangs in the United States of America started as play groups but later developed into distinguished crime groups with members being African-American and Hispanic people changing their activities into serious criminal conducts; for instance, being involved in the drug business activities. Their expansion in their execution of criminal activities and regions of concern brought about the need for changes in the strategies employed by law enforcement in dealing with criminal issues such as establishment of strong crime analysis and intelligence units to handle the rising criminal cases as they were considered a threat to the citizens and the nation at large.

Background Information of Gangs

Gangs in the United States of America have been there for a long duration of time from the early eighteenth century for example the Jones Brothers gang in Chicago, the Forty Thieves in New York, the Black Hand in Italy and the Irish White hand. The migration from north to south was a contributing factor to the increase in formation and development of gangs. This is because the migrants were poor and mostly unsuccessful in life and could therefore indulge in anything that would help them deal with their disappointments and low achievement. They brought along their rebellious and crime aspects or culture and combined efforts to form new or reinforce the existing gangs. The expansion of the gangs was also exacerbated by America’s urge for acquisition of illegal drugs as the gangs acted as the means for dissemination of the drugs to various destinations.

Characteristics of Gangs

The gangs have different characteristics some of which are common to other crime groups while others are specifically associated with gangs and distinguish them from the other organized crime groups. One of the characteristic is communication. Gangs usually use different aspects for communication for instance the use of dress code, hand signals and graffiti. Graffiti is an artwork that is very essential to the gangs as it is used to make it known to people the status and values of the gang in writing as well as acting as a security tool against opponents. It protects them and makes the work of investigators and other law enforcement agencies difficult as they have to be conversant with it so as to handle the gang members effectively and efficiently because without effective communication, their work cannot be executed properly. It is more often than not used as a means of identity among the members. The gangs also make use of non-verbal communication tools like hand signals and tattoos. They also combine English and Spanish languages to come up with their own unique language. They divide themselves into cliques based on their differences in age. The members are usually very loyal to the gang and severe punishment including death is given to those who violate or go against the stipulated rules and regulations. They combine violence and love in their activities for example by harassing new members as they join the group and hugging and exchanging love words during their social events. Respect among the members is also advocated and punishment given to violators. They also are expected to strictly adhere to their rituals and prayers (Mallory, 2007).

Reasons for Engagement in Gangs

There are many reasons that motivate people in joining organized groups like the gangs. Some of them are; identity where the people would like to be recognized as powerful people like the solders or warriors, recognition where they gain a superior status which they feel could not have been acquired elsewhere, money and power since they expect that the gang will be able to help them attain all their needs and therefore satisfy their desires, source of love as they consider the gang to provide family love, maintenance of discipline which is made possible by their leaders through the stipulated rules and regulations, and finally as a source of belonging where the members take the gang as their family and their associate with it through the various activities they do as one. The gang culture is however associated with other general factors of dissatisfaction and disappointment in life matters for example unemployment, lack of education opportunities, rejection by parents and family members, and poor upbringing where they lack somebody to guide them towards positive living among others (Lyman and Potter, 1997).

Dealing with Gangs

The gangs’ activities are usually dangerous to the society and the gangs should therefore be handled appropriately to safeguard the society. However, there is no specific way of handling gangs that has been established or approved. Arresting and convicting the gang members and even sentencing them to long periods of imprisonment is an option but it is thought to be a way of reinforcing the members as they get hardened in the prisons making them even more difficult to handle. Another better way is that of providing educational programs that aim at informing the members of the effects of their illegal activities to the society and the importance of positive change, provision of counseling in regard to drugs where people are told of the effects of drugs and the importance of living positively and avoiding violence and rebellious acts and also provision of treatment, which helps the victims recover from the effects of drugs (Albaneese, 2003).

The Bloods

The Bloods are one of the gangs in the United States of America the others being the Crips, the Folks, Latin Kings, Vice Lords and the Black Gangster disciplines. The Bloods’ membership totals to approximately 20,000 and they are considered to be rivals to the Crips. It is comprised of Afro-Latinos and African Americans and was formed towards the end of the twentieth century( early 1970s) with an aim of coming together and joining forces to be able to protect themselves from the violence and attacks from their rivals, the Crips. This led to too much violence between the two groups as no group wanted to be defeated and therefore each one of them tried its best to be at the fore front. They began as social groups committing minor crimes which later developed into very serious criminal acts like drug trafficking and drive by shootings. The Bloods’ color of identification is red and their principle involves drawing blood, beatings and group sex especially where girls are involved. Just as the Crips, the Bloods are involved in the trade of drugs and it is the main source of their finances. They are also known to have very strong arsenals of weapons which are utilized in providing security and protection from attacks by the police and other rival gangs. The Bloods are well organized and towards the end of the twentieth century, they were able to extend their criminal affairs to other states and in the twenty first century the Bloods, together with the Crips, had established their units in a majority of the American cities. The gangs and drugs could spread easily from one place to another through the enhanced transport infrastructure, for instance, the inter-state highway, planes, and even trains. This exacerbated the corrupt deal of drug trafficking as it was now very easy. The urge to expand the drug trafficking exercise has also led to expansion of the Bloods and have therefore developed connections with other kinds of organized crime groups like the mafia and triads.

The leadership among the Bloods is being affected by deaths of some members, imprisonment and also takeovers by younger generations but still they are recognized as an organized crime group. The crime group has brought about acts of corruption and expansion of other illegal activities making it difficult for the police and other law enforcers to control the unlawful activities most especially drug trafficking. This has been so because even when they are detained in prisons as a way of controlling the activities, they tend to collaborate with the inmates forming even more powerful gangs that operate both within the prison premises and even to the outside communities. Those gang members left outside prison also continue with the illegal activities and complete prohibition has proved difficult unless other strong strategies and measures are put in place. There have also been some instances of change of locations, from one state to another to avoid ease of being traced and arrested. They settle to the new locations and open new markets for the drugs as well as expanding their territories through recruitment of new members from the new places (Rosen, 2005).

Just as other organized crime groups the Bloods are quick to change in respect to changes in social, economic, political, and other aspects of the world. Global changes for instance have affected the way the Bloods carry out their business and other criminal activities. Emergence of a global market through globalization has enhanced activities like drug trafficking by making their movement fast and effective. The crime activities have therefore moved from local to regional and also international especially as the demand for leisure products like drugs increase. In the future, globalization and success in the drug business may change the economies of production where farmers are more likely to engage in drugs farming as their markets flourish and therefore profits increase, make governance difficult as the crime groups seek authority and undermine existing governance and generally affect the social lives of many youngsters as they indulge in drugs and other illegal activities as a source of identity, money, and love (Mallory, 2007).

Conclusion

The issue of organized crime has been a major problem in most states especially in the United States of America. Organized crime groups are in the rise in terms of number of groups and members and also number of the illegal activities they are involved in. This has posed a lot of difficulties in law enforcement especially due to the tactics they employ in protecting themselves and avoiding the police and other law enforcement units. Rivalry and competition among the gangs is also a threat as it leads to the formation of even more powerful gangs with a lot of violence involved. To deal with this problem other strategies like provision of educational programs that aims at informing the members of the effects of their illegal activities to the society and the importance of positive change, provision of counseling in regard to drugs where people are told of the effects of drugs and the importance of living positively and avoiding violence and rebellious acts and also provision of treatment which helps the victims recover from the effects of drugs should be employed along with other law enforcement efforts. The major causes of indulgence in organized crimes should also be looked into and dealt with accordingly.

Reference List

Abadinsky, H. (2010). Organized Crime, 9th ed., Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Albaneese, J. (2003). Organized Crime: World Perspectives. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Lyman, D. M. and Potter, G. W. (1997). Organized Crime. New York: Prentice Hall.

Mallory, L.S (2007). Understanding Organized Crime. United Kingdom: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Rosen, F. (2005). The Historical Atlas of American Crime. New York: InfoBase Publishing.

Schneider, S. (2002). Organized Crime-Global, in: David Levinson (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment, Vol. 3, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.