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Culture, Migration and Transnational Crime: Ethnic Albanian Organized Crime in New York City

NCJ Number
Jana Arsovska
Date Published
May 2015
17 pages
The main aim of this study was to assess empirically whether Albanian organized crime in New York City is a replication or reproduction of organized crime in the home country (transplantation theory), stems from socioeconomic deprivation due to immigrant status (deprivation theory) or emerges due to factors similar to those that draw native-born criminals into organized crime.
Study results indicate that none of the Albanian criminal groups was linked to a strategic, well-planned transplantation from the Balkan region to the United States for the specific purpose of expanding a criminal enterprise based in the home country. Overall, the operations of most groups were local, with only slight indications of international cooperation. Thus, the transplantation theory was rejected by the researchers. Neither was socioeconomic exclusion and deprivation due to immigrant status a driver of involvement of Albanian immigrants in organized crime. Most (87.5 percent) of the 88 ethnic Albanian respondents (offenders and non-offenders) argued that Albanians are treated equally in the United States, and 91 percent claimed that it was easy for them to find housing; and 59.7 percent stated that it has been easy for them to find employment in the United States. Thus, the deprivation theory was rejected. Family associations were found to be important. Criminal networks tend to recruit friends and relatives in the country of origin, promising the potential recruits easy money and glamorous lives. For these individuals who migrate, they are drawn by the appealing promises of relatives and friends drawn into criminal groups that emerged after coming to America. Peer and family influence is a major factor in building Albanian organized crime. Although ethnicity may be relevant in some instances, there are reasons to doubt that Albanians involved in organized crime are dominated by cultural distinctiveness or are transplanted from the home country. 1 figure and 27 bibliographic listings