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Russian Mafia in America: Immigration, Culture, and Crime

NCJ Number
James O. Finckenauer; Elin J. Waring
Date Published
319 pages
The first in-depth study of Russian organized crime since the breakup of the Soviet Union and the arrival of the latest wave of immigrants to the United States, this book reviews the history of organized crime in Russia and its early and recent manifestations among Russian immigrants to the United States.
In seeking to answer the question as to whether the "Russian Mafia" really exists, this book examines the history of Russian organized crime in both its homeland and the United States. It discusses such topics as the characteristics of the Russian criminal tradition of "vory v zakone" ("thieves-in-law"), contemporary Russian mobs, criminal activity among Russian immigrants, claims of KGB involvement in American crime, and connections between crime bosses and gangsters in both countries. The authors draw on research conducted in cooperation with the Tri-State Joint Soviet-emigre Organized Crime Project. The Tri- State Project was organized by the New York State Organized Crime Task Force, the New York and New Jersey State Commissions of Investigation, and the Pennsylvania Crime Commission. Its charge was to investigate Soviet emigre organized crime in the member's respective States. The authors worked with the Tri-State Project for 4 years. During that time, they had access to every report, document, and piece of information the project compiled. Additionally, the authors surveyed more than 400 law enforcement agencies from across the country, analyzed indictments and trial transcripts from their major criminal cases that involved Russians, and collected virtually all material written on the subject. Drawing on this data, the authors explore the intricate network structures in which Russian emigres have participated. They conclude that these structures do not resemble those commonly associated with conventional organized crime, but they apparently are responsive to the particular criminal opportunities in which Russians have engaged. In answering the question as to whether a "Russian Mafia" exists, the authors advise that there is no Russian organized criminal enterprise that mirrors Cosa Nostra families and that the most that can be said about the criminal activities of Russian emigres in the United States is that they tend to be "organized." Chapter notes, a subject index, and appended information on study methodology


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