Floyd Gerhardt, the matriarch of the Gerhardt family, the most prominent organized crime gang in Fargo, North Dakota, was assassinated in March 1979. Their dominance is jeopardized by two near-simultaneous catastrophes that occur only hours apart. A bomb destroys their clubhouse and kills three of their members. The following day, another bomb goes off at a restaurant owned by an enemy gang member. Again, three people are killed.
The Gerhardts were one of the first families to embrace telemarketing as a means of making money. They started out selling vacuum cleaners and washing machines from a home office in Fargo, but soon hired salespeople who made cold calls to potential customers. Within a few years, the family business had become so large that it employed more than 1,000 people. However, after Floyd's death, his sons did not want to continue without him. They sold the company for less than $1 million and moved to Florida, where they started new lives under different names. One son went to jail, while the other disappeared with the money.
In 1989, law enforcement officials in Fargo began investigating claims of corruption within the city government. They discovered that several public officials were accepting bribes from the local mob and reporting them to higher ups in return for reduced sentences. Among those arrested and charged were two former mayors and two police officers.
A crime family is a unit of an organized crime syndicate, notably in Italian organized crime (specifically in the Sicilian Mafia and the Italian-American Mafia), that frequently operates within a defined geographic region. In turn, a family might operate as a standalone "business" or as part of a bigger syndicate or cartel. The history of the Italian mafia goes back more than 100 years while that of the American mafia dates only from the early 20th century.
A family can be any size from just a few people to many members. There are some major families in the United States today, but it is not unusual for there to be only one or two very important families at any given time. It is also not unusual for there to be subfamilies within certain larger families; these may be due to new recruits coming into the business or maybe because some existing members want to promote themselves by making more powerful allies.
In terms of power, it is difficult to say which family is number one since they all have different levels of influence but it is possible to identify the most powerful families by looking at who other families will refuse to deal with or work with only under certain conditions. For example, the Gambino family is said to control upstate New York while the Genovese family is considered to be the main force in New Jersey. There are also families that have special status such as the Bonanno family which is said to be able to protect its members from other families' attacks.
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. Members of the gang departed to join other gangs or form competing groups. This ongoing competition led to increased violence between these organizations and eventually the emergence of more stable criminal enterprises such as mafias.
Today, organized crime is defined as "the involvement of individuals or groups in illegal activity for profit, with the presence of organizational structures and operating protocols." While this definition includes many different types of criminals, it does not discriminate between legal and illegal activities. Indeed, anyone can become involved in organized crime by joining a mafia family or other group. There are two main ways people do this: either by acting as a courier for the mob or through blackmail.
Once involved in organized crime, someone must decide how they will contribute to the organization's profits. Two common roles are that of a "hit man" or "enforcer", who uses their violent skills to protect or settle disputes within the group, and that of a "manager", who provides guidance on business practices and helps organize crimes for profit.
People can also become involved in organized crime by obtaining positions within the criminal organization. These positions can include jobs as drivers, guards, and spies and can provide access to drugs, guns, and other forms of income.
This group rose to prominence and became involved in a variety of activities, including politics. These gang members would use their influence to commit crimes (such as robberies) and then bribe police officers to avoid arrest or imprisonment.
In the early 20th century, other organizations began to emerge within the gang culture. "Cities formed police departments to combat crime, and these officers were usually organized into teams with names like 'the Rangers' or 'the Special Squad'. Criminal entrepreneurs realized that by forming their own groups with access to weapons and ammunition, they could get away with more crimes, too. The first such group was called the American Mafia, but it wasn't until after World War II that other criminal organizations began to appear on the scene." - This Is London
Today, there are two main types of organized crime groups: mafia clans and transnational criminal organizations (TCOs).