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Organized crime can be described as widespread crime related activities that include illegal gambling, smuggling, prostitution, narcotic trading, kidnappings, gun running, credit fraud, money laundering and interstate theft among other criminal activities .These criminal activities are controlled and carried out by criminal groups which have formal organized structures .These activities that are run in a business hierarchical structure provides the crime organizations with money. These organizations freely use violence and intimidation tactics to force their victims to part with money or business contracts for their crime enterprises (Brown2005). They resort to bribery to ensure that their criminal activities are run without interference from the authorities and enjoy immunity from prosecution and exposure (Bennett et al2010).In order to make this possible the crime organizations enjoy political patronage from elected public officials by contributing to their election expenses. The term organized crime originated from a civilian commission formed in Chicago in 1919 to examine methods that could be used to change the Chicago justice system which was at the time embedded with corrupt officials. The reference was coined to refer to how tens of thousand of the population were pursuing criminal activities as legitimate business. These formal underworld criminal organizations are often referred to by many names depending on their origins or the ethnicity of the gang member's. We have the Mafia in the USA, Russia and Italy, the La-Cosa-Nostra from Italy, the Yakuza from Japan, the triads from Hong Kong and china and the tongs from Taiwan. Most of these organizations are found in the USA as a result of the large immigration population. Members of these organizations are not only very violent but also very loyal to their groups which make it harder for the law enforcement agents to arrest them and prosecute them for lack of credible evidence on their illegal activities. In additional there has been proliferation of youth gangs in the USA and European countries. These criminal gangs are comprised of young teens often from the same ethnic roots have also been involved in similar criminal activities such as the narcotic trade, human trafficking and vehicle theft among other criminal activities.
A lot of studies have been done on organized crime culminating in a lot of literature on organized criminal activities and organized groups and gangs including reports from law enforcement agencies. However a universally acceptable definition of organized crime is yet to be adopted and accepted throughout the global law enforcement agencies .This lack of a widely acceptable definition presents these agencies with challenges of how to tackle the transnational dimension of organized crime. The aim of this paper is to discuss some of the recent articles on challenges that the definitions of organized criminal activities presents to tackling the vice in the international arena. Pierre Hauck and Sven Peterke (2010) describe organized crime as groups that have collective criminality. There are many definitions of organized crime these definitions differ depending on the country or organizations making the definition. Interpol for example defines organized crime as any group whose main goal is to obtain money from illegal activities and has a corporate structure and survives through corruption and fear. While the European Union defines organized crime as illegal activities conducted by more than three people in a group that is structured in a long period with the objective of obtaining material and financial benefits by committing serious criminal activities through violence ,intimidation and corruption. The United Nations defines organized crime as complex and large scale crime activities conducted by associations that are either loosely or tightly structured in order to exploit, establish and supply markets that are illegal in a society at their expense. These goals are achieved through ruthless breaking of rules and laws and are carried out by use of violence, intimidation and threats to members of the society. In his 2008 article on policing organized crime in the international context Harfield Clive argues that this lack of a holistic definition of organized crime. He argues that the law enforcement agencies are hampered by this lack of widely acceptable definition when tackling this vice in the international context. He however notes that their willingness changes when the terrorism dimension of organized crime is introduced (Mishra & Shanty 2008). It is widely accepted however that organized crime can affect society and states in devastating ways where the vice has deep roots .The organized crime groups manage this by hamper the application of the laws and rules. This can really affect the economical sustainability of the affected state by hampering development and provision of human security. The challenges that are presented by this lack of a proper definition arises from fact that some states are unable to separate organized crime from gang activities within their own borders .Since both these criminal activities have similar characteristic and in some cases they work in cohorts some of these states define organized crime vaguely in order to include gang activities in their definition to enable them tackle both vices at the same level. In most states where organized crime is rampart the leaders of these groups resort to using youthful gangs in order to protect their territories. Countries such as Brazil faces this as their main challenges by having the organized crime lord using gangs to protect their drug trade territories by paying the gangs to eliminate competition and other forms of threats such as law enforcing officers investigating their activities and thus they are eliminated from these turfs .
However in order to get a holistically acceptable definition there is need to distinguish gangs from organized crime organization. The challenge is however for the purposes of legal prosecution organized crime and gang activities are in most cases tied in order to sever as deterrence to those involved in both vices. But in order to achieve proper policing in an international dimension Harfield argues that there is need for a proper definition of organized crime that is uniformly and internationally acceptable. To achieve this states that vaguely define organized crime should therefore make distinctions between organized crime groups and the crime gangs that are less professional and with little sophistication. In other worlds for legal purposes the youth gangs that are mainly comprised of youth with similar ethnic backgrounds should be separated from the traditional organized crime groups. The challenges however resort from the fact that these youthful gangs have often been used by the more organized traditional groups involved in narcotic traffic among other criminal activities to protect their areas of business often referred to as turfs as "foot soldiers". Hauck and Peterke (2010) in their article on legal definitions of organized crime argue that even though by this connection gangs are involved in the narcotic trade and other crimes committed by organized crime groups, they are however not the major beneficiaries from these criminal activities . They note that in countries like Brazil these youthful gangs are responsible for thousand of homicidal crimes on behalf of organized crime groups but they benefit less financially compared to the major players in such crimes as the lucrative narcotics trade. But the two authors try to distinguish these gangs from the major formal organized crime groups like the mafia. These groups are often made up of adolescent and youthful men within their home locality but commit similar crimes to organized groups such as the mafia or the triads. However they do their crimes in their home localities whereas the other organized groups have international dimensions (Wright 2006).
Similar challenges were also noted by a commission tasked to investigate criminal trend in California (Albanese 2005). The two authors argue that the criminal gangs often stemming from street socialization have shorter goals compared to organized groups which use violence to achieve their long term objective which is to control their territories for their criminal activities. Both the crime activities of these two groups are enabled by the society's demand for their products and services. Illegal substances such as drugs, prostitutes, gambling illegal guns and pornography material among other products and services are often in high demand thus giving the criminals incentives to organize ways of supplying such illegal requirements at a cost (Finklea 2010). The two however noted that there were difficulties in separating the gangs from the formal crime organized groups since the formal organizations are as result of these gangs acquiring the international dimensions in their criminal activity .This is the major problem that leads to the vague definitions .In other words these gangs are capable and have been found to expand by recruiting other members and forming beneficial associations with other gangs outside their locality. By this they develop their criminal activity portfolios and become more organized to evolve into organized crime groups. When these gangs collude and form several criminal ties with other gangs there is the possibility of such gangs being able to commit crimes in an international scale. This therefore blurs the distinction between the gangs and organized crime and hence the problem with some states defining organized crimes vaguely. However it is possible to distinguish the two by their use of violence. As earlier discussed gang violence is artificial and has shorter objectives as compared to violence meted out by organized group which has long term objective
Human trafficking on the other hand does not facing the same legal hurdles in its definition on the international arena as organized crime. It is widely accepted as a serious crime against humanity .This is an act of Recruiting, transferring, harbouring and transportation people through coercion, Deception, abduction, fraud, or by exploiting their vulnerability in order to enslave them through sexual exploitation, forced labour or remove their organs to sell to individuals requiring organ transplant. The fight against human trafficking is however hampered not by definition but by fact that most victims rarely report their conditions to avoid deportation or prosecution .This results from the fact that they often lack proper documentation to enable them residice in the countries that they eventually end up in. Victims of human trafficking are often from poor countries and are in most cases deceived of better prospects in other economically prosperous countries in order to escape poverty. The other challenge that hampers the vice is the available market for the trafficked humans this coupled by the fact that in most countries where they end up in deports them on their discovery enforces their vulnerability. There is also the involvement of the organized crime groups in human trafficking which complicates the vices since these groups are experts in identity thefts and production of fake travel and identity documents .They use this expertise to transfer their victims from one country .The catch is once their victims arrive in their destined country they are literary owned by these groups. They are exploited due to their illegal documentation or are forced to pay unending debts to cover for their transfer expenses (Bennett et al2010). Others are forced to remain enslaved and exploited through intimidations and threats. Through the United Nations most countries have joined the fight to eradicate the vice. The challenges that arising when fighting human trafficking are not as a result of the law enforcement agencies unwillingness to eradicate the vice the result from lack of reports from the victims.