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Organized crime as with many other criminology terms, has received diverse definitions from varied sources. In all these definitions, one can surprisingly identify little consensus in relation to its meaning. The reason for this in part is because unlike in the cases of robbery, homicide or many other types of crimes and offences, organized crime is more of a conceptual crime rather than a legal category crime. The definition hence will have a very great implication on our perception to it. Our explanation as to the meaning of organized crime will determine the steps that we shall take in the attempt to curb it and protect the society from its hazards (Vincent 1990, para. 1).
It's a matter of fact that all crimes are organized to some degree in one way or the other. Criminal acts of a small group of minor thieves, juvenile delinquents, or a three-person team of con artists suggest some nominal levels of social organization. Nevertheless we do not usually intend the term "organized crime" to include such groups or activities. It should be noted that all crimes as well as criminals are located along a range of organizational sophistication (Vincent 1990, para. 2).
Those who do crimes like preparation and importation of illegal drugs, stealing of cars and modifying them for shipment for export, or those who engage in prostitution that goes beyond money matters require more than just simple mugging or a group of juvenile who commits occasional simple crimes. Organized crime may involve important personality in the government, social circles, economic movers, the security forces, the elite, church leaders and those whose names appears in the media daily for the important roles they play in the national development. It's conceptualized as a set of market relationship rather than a criminal association. The reason behind such reasoning is because most of the activities that are involved such as loan shacking, drug dealing, inflation of legitimate business, gambling and many more are market activities. This means many questions that we may need to ask about some sort of organized crime are the same questions that we ask on a normal business. The questions may include; how are the goods marketed? What relationship links the criminals to the public? How are the contractual obligations enforced? This means organized crime involves some form of ongoing conspiracy which is ordered around market relationships and that involves offenders, victims, customers, corrupt official among many other stake holders (Vincent 1990, para. 4).
Organized Crime in Italy
Organized crime has infiltrated the Italian economical, political and social circles. Mafia is the most notorious criminal organizations in the country. It has been able to expand to other parts of the world such as Italy. There are about six mafia organizations that are known in Italy. The Sicilian mafia who are the oldest and the most feared developed between 1500 and 1800. Some other two groups or mafias came recently: Sacra Corona Unita and Stidda. Anonima Sequestri is a mafia organization located at Sardinia. This group is also found in other parts of Italy and some parts of Europe. There are so many mafias who have migrated to other parts of the world making the organizations expand to the other parts of the world such as Africa, America, Asia and Australia (FBI 2009, para. 2).
Mafia was initially used to refer to Sicilian phenomena but now it's used to describe organized criminal groups. The mafias in Italy fist appeared in the 1800s among the Italian societies. They became infiltrated in the social, political and economical fabric of Italy as well as impacting the whole world. Mafias are one of the most notorious and wide spread of all criminal societies. The FBI has estimated the number of the four major groups to be approximately 25,000 members. They are believed to have an affiliate membership of 250,000 members all over the world. They have been blamed for local and international crimes such as drug trafficking, and money laundering. They have been involved in heroine trafficking for decades. The groups are also involved in illegal gambling, political corruption, kidnapping, murder, bombing, fraud, counterfeiting, and weapon trafficking (FBI 2009, para. 9).
Organized Crime and politics co-existence
The FBI in the attempt to explain the continued coexistence between the politicians and the mafia groups have explained that an underground secret society was formed which was seen as a group of resistance fighters who were against the invaders and to exact frontier vigilant justice against the oppressed. A member of the group was known as -a man of honor- . Such a man was respected and admired since he had taken a decision to protect his family and friends by keeping silent unto death. The Sicilian group was not concerned of the secret organization since it came at the expense of the oppressive authorities. The secret group eventually grew into a mafia (FBI 2009, para. 11).
These groups since their inception have over the years become more clannish having began to rely on familial ties for protection, safety and survival. Sicilians and other groups have thrived over the years because they have been known to be fighters of people's rights. The oppressive authorities have continued to co-work with them so that both continue to thrive. The initial goal for the formation of the group was for the benefit of the local's security. For example the Sicilian mafia was formed in the middle of 1800s so as to unify the Sicilian peasants against their enemies, by 1920's the group changed from honorable Sicilian men to a group of organized criminals. By 1950 the Sicilian group were enjoying massive building boom where they were taking the advantage of the opportunity to gain control of building contracts making millions of dollars. Its approximated that today the Sicilian mafia may be the second largest organization in Italy (FBI 2009, para. 13).
The relationship between mafia and politics has been termed by the media as "the third level". They are seen as financiers, politicians and members of the Masonic lodges. The relationship between politicians and mafia groups is quite complex. The relationship between mafia's organized crime and politics is in two major ways:
Mafia groups are associations that are able to be part of political groups or even form a political party. In such a case they may have law and rules that govern their members and activities. They may also have territorial extension, physical coercion, as well as administrative force that are capable of ensuring the observance of the rules and effecting coercive measures (Albanese & Verma 2003, p. 82-100).
The mafia group may be organized in such a way that it contributes as an association and a social coalition to the production of the politics in a comprehensive sense. The mafia group in this case contributes or determines the decision and the choices that regard the manipulation of power and the distribution of national resources. Many politicians use the latter for the coexistence of both groups (Albanese & Verma 2003, p. 82-100).
In the relationship between the state and the mafia group, the mafia group may be two faced: it may decide to be contemporary outside and opposed to the government. This is because it does not recognize the monopoly in violence and the naturally resort murder; why should the government have the monopoly of passing the death penalty codes? On the other hand it may be inside the state since series of activities are connected with the utilization of the public money. Such may include getting contracts for public workers so that they will to disturb the government in its affairs. In this case they imply their active participation in the public life in issues like control of the functioning institutions and the control of the elections (Albanese & Verma, 2003 p. 82-100).
For the continued survival of these groups of organized crimes the Italian government has been known to use fundamentally double standards. All along the mafia groups were not considered as criminal organizations until 1982. The groups continued to be involved in all sort of crime while enjoying some form of impunity. This was a clear manifestation of the states renunciation over its monopoly of violence. The impunity was a kind of legitimization which concludes the idea that in Italy there have been two ways of dealing with violence. This can be explained by the fact that those who are in political leadership, the influential people in the society and the rich people make use of these groups against their opponents so that they can have the dominion. When they get to power they have responsibility of protecting these groups in their criminal activities. This makes this groups continue enjoying some degree of freedom and impunity (Albanese & Verma 2003 p. 97-100).
Albanese, & Verma, (2003) have argued that:
"In this way Mafia was symbolized as institutionalized criminality, while inside the State there was a split between "formal constitution" and "material constitution", that is, between the written principles and the real behavior, and actual criminal institutions were formed. It has been said that since the end of the Second World War Italy's democracy has been blocked, formally open but virtually "off limits" to the opposition. It was an effect of international "bipolarism": in fact there was an interaction between the internal and the international policies. The secret services, the masonic lodge P2 (a secret lodge of which were members the chiefs of the secret services, many politician, magistrates, etc.), the neofascists have had a Mafia type role in this terroristic strategy "strategia Della tensione" " (Albanese & Verma 2003, p. 96).
The power of the mafia in the organization of crime has heavily been different from other simple criminals. Over the years they have had influential people in the high offices that have facilitated their success in exchange for some specified demands. Since they are mostly the mediators between the property owner and the labor force they do not lack friends in the high offices. This has led to the referring of the mafia as the second government in Italy. This is because they have over the years been engaged in what the government is doing or is supposed to be doing. This helps them to amass a lot of power. The mafia groups are known to offer security and physical protection which is also done by the government or should be done by the government. The amassed power is part of its continued thrive over the years from the beginning of the unification of Italy in 1860's. The Italian government failed to guarantee its citizens physical security in the remote areas which prompted the emergence of mafia groups like the Sicilian to fill in the gap (Stille 2002, para. 4).
The mafias over the years have been granting electoral support to the political parties' that are in power. This has enabled them not only to assume some of the government functions in the form of protection but have also acted as a sort of parallel political class by electing some of their group members or people close to the organizations to the key positions in the country's leadership. In fact it would be very unusual if in a whole council there would lack a couple of members who are in one way or the other related to the local mafia boss.
Guilio Andreott and Organized Crime
They have also managed to use some influential people and their coercive power to continue in their criminal activities. When their domination began to be challenged in 1980s, there emerged a series of big trials in Pelermo which was an indication that they could be tried. Some few days later some of the two major prosecutors who were leading in many of these cases were assassinated during the summer season of 1992 (Ginsborg 2003, p. 209).
On 23rd July 1989 Guilio Andreott became the president of the council of ministers again. He held the position until April 1992. Until 1990 a minister in his government Gava Antonio whose links with Neapolitan Camorra had long been suspected but whose complicity with it was to emerge fully in 1993. The coupling was seen as a dubious team with no any attempt to fight against Italy's variety of mafias. It was not until 1992 when an important law against organized crime was passed. This law was giving the police more powers in the cases of kidnapping and protecting their collaboration with forces of order as they endeavor to establish a new transparency for subcontracting while at the same time improving the coordination of police anti mafia activities. Andretti was not seen to be moved by his own initiative but was under the pressure of the lawyer of the murdered Carabanieri. He was made to make sure that the various Mafiosi were not released from prison while awaiting the appeal of maxiprocesso (Ginsborg 2003, p. 210).
Ginsborg has argued that it is only possible to explain ostensibly so grave contradiction the synchronized dependence upon and subjugation of the mafia by examining the diverse planes of political action on which Guilio Andreotti operated on, which may indeed have a corresponded to diverse parts of his intricate personality. At the level of high politics, an entire series of factors pushed Guilio Andreotti into an overt anti mafia stance. He was never ready to take such measure willingly for it was perceived that he was collaborating with them for his political ambitions. When Dalla (Chinese max-trail) was assassinated, the public opinion was alerted that never before to the struggle of the anti-mafia. All the people could not afford to be lukewarm especially Guilio Andreotti who was greatly suspected as the cause of the death. He was seen to be on his toes in any attempt to cover any possible traces of his association with the crime (Ginsborg 2003, p. 210).
When Andreotti was being prosecuted for alleged collusion with the mafias in the organized crime, many state witnesses such as Tommaso Buscetta and Antonino Calderone described the way in which the prominently known "vote of exchange" worked. Such a form of exchange was very common in Italy after the Second World War; it ensured that certain candidates were able to secure a number of votes in exchange for favors which could range from important public works contracts to the hiring of manpower as well as promoting or abolishing some of government legislations. Owing to the fact that the people who were being protected by the mafias were in great numbers the candidates were promised that all the people would vote for them in the election in the exchange of the favors that the mafias would name. The mafia leader would then endeavor in the villages informing the members of the societies whom they were to vote for. Tens of thousands would vote for that candidate so that when he is in he would protect their interests. This was a clear indication of how prevalent ambivalent yet firmly established relationship between the criminal activities and legal forms of power would for structural risk democracy (Allum & Siebert 2003, p. 222).
Allum and Siebert (2003) have argued that this form of cyclical nature of Crime activities would appear to be the end result of this relationship with local context. The mafias are usually influenced by political and economic conditions. At the same time the mafias are able to exert a strong influence on its context.
In many parts of the world organized crime has become a life style such that it is so deep rooted to an extend that people as well as the government do not make any attempt to overcome it. There is a kind of barter trade between the political parties and the perpetrators of organized crime. In cases where there is political corruption it may involve threatening the people, the leaders or even the very acts of killing the enemies of the system. For example in Kenya a group of religious sect emerged about a decade ago during Moi's era. The group came out as a promoter of Kikuyu heritage and culture. Nevertheless after some time of establishment the group started engaging in organized crime. It is believed that the group continued to prosper despite its ills because it had a political backing. The greatest challenge to cub the group's atrocities has been made futile by the involvement of prominent people in the government who funds their activities. It has also been argued that to fight the group is not possible for its membership has even infiltrated the police force. In exchange the group supports the leader's rights and votes for them. This is just like Italy where the mafia amasses vote for their friends in the political arena to protect their rights (Kössler 2008, p. 20).
In other countries like Asia where prostitution prominently known as commercial sex workers is so pronounced, there are ring prostitution where those who run this rings are very wealthy criminals. They play a great role in the success of the political leaders. They are allowed to run their business in exchange of supporting political leaders mostly financially. They collaborate with the leaders in the business and may even be partners of the games (Finkernauer 2006, p. 28-30).
Over the past few years, the issue of organized crime has been one of the major subjects of discussion in the attempt to suppress crime in nations. This issue has become a public discussion issue as well as political debate due to the effect of organized crime on the security, politics, and economy of a country. This topic is particularly important because there is a wide variety of measures to curb it that are being considered or have been considered but at the same time observing maximum caution because of the risk involved. In countries like Italy where organized crime have taken root such that to see in government are part of it, it becomes a hard task to eliminate this type of culture. In some countries the perpetrators of organized crime have established their activities such that they run a parallel organization to the government of the countries. The leaders of organized crime have become important party in the decision making of these countries such that any legislature decision have to be in consensus with the organizations' policy otherwise they will retort against the government. Those in political power in exchange are voted in by these organized groups to ensure the sustenance of the two parties of the dirty game (Fijnaut 1990, p. 321).
Criminal organizations penetrate the mechanisms that have the responsibility of governing democracies and they influence these systems to suit their workings. Votes are extorted from the citizens with threats of violence or promises of protection. This system is used for the benefit of the perpetrators of organized crime and the political leaders. The groups may even manage to take their members to leadership so that he can look into their so called rights. The political parties rely heavily on them for their survival. These groups are able to make millions of dollars since they compel their accomplice in the government to award tem public works contracts. Any attempt to prosecute them is met with a blow like in Italy where several prosecutors have been assassinated (Allum & Siebert 2003, p. 221).