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Organized Crime and the Drug Trade (From Drugs and Society: Causes, Concepts and Control, P 213-227, 1998, by Michael D. Lyman and Gary W. Potter - See NCJ-177127)

NCJ Number
M D Lyman; G W Potter
Date Published
15 pages
The involvement of organized crime in drug trafficking is described with respect to differences between traditional and nontraditional organized crime, the characteristics of different types of gangs involved in the drug trade, the alien conspiracy theory of organized crime, and factors contributing to the growth of nontraditional organized crime.
Characteristics unique to members of the organized crime unit include the provision of illicit goods or services; the arbitrary use of violence; the establishment of a code of conduct for members; the ability to corrupt public officials; and a recruitment strategy based on ethnic, racial, geographical, or kinship factors. Members of the group are usually supported by individuals belonging to two other criminal categories, the protectors and specialized support. The protectors include accountants, attorneys, and government officials. Specialized support groups include pilots, enforcers, and chemists. The alien conspiracy theory holds that organized crime is a direct spinoff of a secret society, the Mafia, which is a single organization centrally coordinated through a national commission. Disbelievers in this theory insist that organized crime consists of numerous ethnically diverse groups. Supporters of the theory conceive two organized crime contingencies: traditional organized crime and nontraditional organized crime. The nontraditional, contemporary gangs are distinguished from traditional organized crime organizations in part by their recent vintage. The genesis of groups such as the Jamaican posses, the California youth gangs, and the Colombian cocaine cartels occurred around 1970, when drug abuse began to flourish in the United States. Four characteristics unique to the emerging groups are vertical integration, the use of alternate sources of supply, a propensity to exploit social conditions to further the organization, and the insulation of leaders from street-level dealers. Case study, photograph, list of major terms used, and discussion questions