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Risk Assessment in Organized Crime: Developing a Market and Product-Based Model To Determine Threat Levels

NCJ Number
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice Volume: 24 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2008 Pages: 263-273
Jay S. Albanese
Date Published
August 2008
11 pages
In proposing a model for assessing the risk of organized crime, this article focuses on illicit markets rather than groups and offers a practical alternative for determining the presence of organized crime in areas that may or may not have a history of organized crime involvement.
The author uses the following definition of “organized crime:” “Organized crime is a continuing criminal enterprise that rationally works to profit from illicit activities that are often in great public demand; its continuing existence is maintained through the use of force, threats, monopoly control, and/or the corruption of public officials.” Changing the criterion of risk assessment from identifying high-risk individuals and groups to high-risk illicit markets requires an understanding of important market variables. Prior work on illicit markets and organized crime makes it clear that supply, demand, regulators, and competition are crucial variables that should be measured in determining markets at risk. These risk factors might interact to increase the risk of organized crime’s involvement in a particular product or market. Organized crime groups operate enterprises with the goals of survival and making a profit, while controlling the pressures they face from suppliers (sources), customers (demand), regulators (law, police), and competitors (other legal and illegal businesses and products). In each category, specific indicators (variables) can be developed to measure the comparative nature of supply (availability, ease of movement), demand (the level of demand and whether it is elastic or inelastic), competition from other groups and products (profitability, history or organized crime in that market, and impact of harms produced), and regulators (ease of entry into the illicit market or product--existing regulations and any special skills needed, the capacity and effectiveness of law enforcement in that jurisdiction, and government corruption levels). 4 tables, 2 figures, and 30 references