Organized crime

 

Organized crime is an ever-evolving phenomenon that affects all countries. Organized criminal groups are those with three or more persons, some level of structure and that exist for a period of time with the objective of committing at least one serious crime (some examples of activities that might constitute a serious crime are listed below). Organized criminal groups also act in concert with the overall purpose of obtaining a financial or other material benefit. Organized criminal groups very often find their primary profit-making centres in the provision of illicit goods and services in high public demand. Examples of activities to which organized criminal groups might dedicate include: drug trafficking, firearms trafficking, human trafficking, migrant smuggling, wildlife and forestry crime, counterfeit goods, falsified medical products or trafficking in cultural property. Since profit is at the very core of organized crime, these groups often go to great extents to hide and protect what they gain from illegal activities, by way of corruption, money laundering, extortion and other forms of infiltration in business and government. It is common for organized criminal groups to operate across borders, and the variety of areas in which they can be found means that they are more present in society that one may normally think.

 

Key messages

  • The illicit activities of organized criminal groups have serious negative consequences for individuals and society - they affect people's safety and health, weaken economies and reduce trust in public institutions.
  • We can all reduce organized crime and demand for its illicit services and products through our daily decisions as consumers.
  • Organized criminal groups also operate in the virtual world of cyberspace (see the section on cybercrime).