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Criminal Organization: the gang and the new trend of their criminal activities

Organised crime can be described as the activities of criminal syndicates involved in supplying goods and services that are prohibited by law such as drugs or gambling along with other protection rackets, intimidation and extortion. The main motivation behind the organized crime, according to many criminologists, seems to be fast upward mobility for lower class individuals. Professional criminals and criminal organisations maintain their position, as Croall (1998) observes, by manipulating law enforcement through corruption and related means. A key characteristic of organised crime, identified by Ruggiero (1996a),  is that 'it deals with the provision of goods and services which are officially defined as illegal' and thus attains the status of an industry - distinguished from a legitimate industry by the very illegal nature of its activities. Professional criminals and criminal organisations are distinguished by their criminal identity, involvement in a criminal subculture and possession of criminal skills. Sutherland (1937) in his classic work "The Professional thief" finds similarity between professional theft and a legitimate profession by their distinctive systems, language, laws, history, traditions, customs, methods and techniques. Ruggiero (1996a) says, approaches to organised crime are generally understood taking the example of the Mafia, in terms of family and the characteristics of secretive organisation with strong loyalties among its members. With globalisation the erstwhile organised crime became transnational involving international cartels. There are wide varieties of transnational crime ranging from drug trafficking, human trafficking to Cyber and internet thefts. This paper looks in to the changing nature of criminal organisation across the borders and its wider implications.

Cressey (1972) delineates the structure of organisations within organised crime. There are apparently two types of organisations informal and formal, similar to the ordinary organisations. The informal organisations according to him are 'stabilised patterns of interaction based on similarities of interests and attitudes and occasionally on mutual aid.' He says, 'in an informal organisation interaction patterns have become routine to a degree such that there is a cluster of role relationships, each consisting of reciprocal rights and obligations. But the persons playing the roles do not necessarily perceive this structure as serving collective purposes, as is the case in formal organisations'.

With respect to the organisation structure, there is not much difference found between any formal organisation and a criminal organisation. A criminal organisation adopts its structural and functional elements based on a formal organisational structure. Thus organised crime is a well planned, strategically enforced activity. It becomes even more complex when it involves trans- border elements. Transnational Organised Crime is an institution in itself with a wide variety of actors and structures involved.

Globalisation with a wide variety of opportunities for inter continental business flows also opened up parallel channels for inter- national crime flows. Transnational Organised Crime in response to the globalisation transcends the centralized and highly structured organisations with involvement of more diverse actors and dispersed activity. With growing opportunities short term alliances are set up that are inspired by mutuality and competition. Ruggiero (ibid) argues that these opportunities may not only involve criminal syndicates but also a variety of legitimate entrepreneurs lured by the global markets. Thus the trans-nationality of crime has increasing opportunities with globalisation. Therefore, while dealing with the criminal organisation in the globalisation era, one needs to bear in mind the diverse nature of transnational crime that has blurred the distinction between the traditional organized crime and white collar crime. Also one has to keep a track of the trajectory of the transnational crime and the changing nature of innovative methods adopted, in order to address and tackle the crime scene. 

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