Comparative Perspective on Organized Crime
Russian and Asian Organized Crime
April 28, 2008
Russian and Asian Organized Crime
Transnational organized crime involves the planning and execution of illicit business ventures by groups or networks of individuals working in more than one country (Reuter and Petrie, 1999; Albanese, 2004). These criminal groups use systematic violence and corruption to achieve their goals (Finckenauer and Voronin, 2001). Most crimes commonly include money laundering; human smuggling; cyber crime; and trafficking of humans, drugs, weapons, endangered species, body parts, or nuclear material.
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Russian immigrants are generally urban in origin, well-educated, and industrially and technologically skilled. Despite a language barrier, many have learned some English in Soviet-era schools, they have marketable skills. The Russian immigrant crime in this country did not grow out of the same cultural alienation and economic disparity experienced by other immigrant groups. Russian criminals did not begin their criminal careers as members of adolescent street gangs in ethnic ghettos, as did most of the organized criminals in the U.S.
This characteristic is more defining of Russian organized crime in the United States than its violence is the predominant nature of its criminal activity. With the principal exceptions of extortion and money laundering, ROC had relatively little or no involvement in some of the more traditional crimes of organized crime, such as drug trafficking, gambling, and loan sharking. On the other side these varied criminal groups are extensively engaged in a broad array of frauds, and scams, including healthcare fraud, insurance scams, stock frauds, antiquities swindle. Forgery and gas tax evasion schemes are the least of the crimes the Russian organized criminal element are involved in.
Russian organized crime is very adept at changing criminal activities and diversifying into new criminal markets. Financial markets and banks are the newest targets of criminal opportunity for Russian Organized Crime. Russian organized crime captures a variety of crime groups and criminal activities, the crimes and forms of criminal organization in the U.S. differ from those in Russia and elsewhere in the world. This is a result of different external environments and criminal opportunities.
The structure of Russian Organized Crime does not look like either what is commonly understood to be the structure of organized crime or the term of mafia in the conventional sense of those terms. The networks are not highly centralized nor are they dominated by a small number of individuals. Those individuals, have influence and continue to occupy their positions on the basis of their personal characteristics. The networks lack continuing structures, since the structures are not simply small groups of criminals essentially acting independently of one another, but a broad connectivity among most of the participating criminals.
They may not be a direct connection to a large number of fellow criminals, but they are indirectly connected to all. Allowing this gives the networks a great deal of flexibility in the organization of offenses, meaning they can be responsive to the opportunities for illegal undertakings that develop. Given such an opportunity, each member of the large networks can contact partners who are generalists or specialists. Being able to raise capital, and get access other needed resources. In this sense, the structure is very functional. The fluid nature of the structure may also explain the high level...