The origins of organized crime as we know it today—a collection of individuals working together to earn wealth via unlawful and often violent means—can be traced back to the 1800s street gangs. These gangsters worked in communities throughout the United States to provide security and order, just like the police do today. However, instead of serving and protecting people, these gangsters committed crimes to benefit themselves.
These criminal groups used threats of violence to keep other gangs out of their neighborhoods, but they didn't stop there. They also offered services that regular businesses couldn't or wouldn't for one reason or another. For example, they might help a business owner get out from under a debt, use their influence with local officials to reduce taxes, or even supply workers during periods when there was no crime in town.
In the early 20th century, several factors led to an expansion of urban crime networks and an increase in the power and influence of individual gangsters. The first was the arrival of new drugs - especially heroin - that were much easier to obtain than alcohol. Because of this, addiction became widespread within many gang-dominated neighborhoods. The second factor was the rise of mass media, which provided gangsters with a way to communicate with each other and with customers that wasn't available before. Gangsters used these tools to spread fear within their communities by warning of attacks or committing them themselves.
Overview Organized crime in America has a history dating back to the 1920s and continuing into the twenty-first century. It is estimated that the total annual revenue from criminal activity in the United States is $40 billion, with $1.6 billion coming from drug trafficking alone. The major source of income for organized criminals is the illegal sale of drugs and other illicit goods. In addition, they can make money through extortion, robbery, and various types of theft. Criminal organizations will sometimes use their influence or connections with other organizations or individuals to further increase their income.
The history of organized crime in the United States can be divided up by period. From the late 19th century to the early 1940s, Chicago was the center of the American underworld. Other cities including New York, Los Angeles, and Miami also had large populations of immigrants who were willing to do anything for enough money to get them started in life. They used their energy and enthusiasm to work their way up the criminal ladder until they could move on and start over again somewhere else.
From the mid-1940s to the late 1950s, Chicago's dominance of the American underworld came to an end when New York City rose to become the main headquarters for mob leaders from across the country.
The phrase "organized crime" was originally used by members of the Chicago Crime Commission, a civic group founded in 1919 by industrialists, bankers, and attorneys to urge improvements in the criminal justice system in order to better deal with the crime problem. The term was coined by Illinois Governor Harry S. Thompson when he described the commission's work as an "organization that controls crime."
All across America, other crime commissions were formed with similar goals, and by the mid-1930s, there were more than 100 such groups active in 33 states. The goal of these new organizations was not to jail their citizens but rather to reduce crime by influencing police practices and legislative reforms. They hired professional investigators who were given wide latitude in searching for evidence about crimes committed within their respective jurisdictions. Once evidence had been found, it was presented before committees composed of representatives from different law enforcement agencies and local politicians who would make decisions on issues such as arrests and charges.
This form of policing was designed to ensure that those responsible for serious offenses did not go free by preventing cases from being watered down or lost due to lack of evidence. It also enabled crime commissions to obtain information from inside police departments that might otherwise have been withheld because of officer privacy concerns.
However, the sorts of organized criminal organizations involved in labor racketeering, as well as the techniques they use, have developed through time. Despite the government's progress in combating classic organized crime, new atypical organized crime organizations have formed alongside long-standing forms of racketeering such as bribery and extortion. These newer types of organizations have varied methods but often involve using employees or agents who are not involved in illegal activity to commit acts of violence against competitors or enemies.
Labor racketeering is a form of "union security" crime in which employers are bribed by gangsters to fire union organizers or otherwise interfere with their employment relations with the aim of preventing them from joining a labor organization.
This form of crime was first identified in the United States during the 1930s when employers began to be killed for refusing to hire anti-union consultants or for firing them once they had been hired. The perpetrators of these crimes were usually members of organized crime groups who used their influence with employers to force them to change their hiring practices. The murders ended when law enforcement officials started investigating each case individually instead of assuming that it was part of the overall effort by the mob to control construction unions. After this point, only one more murder was committed in relation to this type of crime before both it and its successor, labor racketeering, went into decline.
In recent years, however, labor racketeering has become popular again among employers who refuse to sign mandatory arbitration agreements with unions.