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Frequently asked questions on organized crime

1. What is meant by organized crime?

The INTERPOL definition adopted by the General Assembly of the member countries of INTERPOL in 1998 is as follows:

'Any enterprise or group of persons engaged in a continuing illegal activity which has as its primary purpose the generation of profits irrespective of national boundaries'

2. What is the organized Crime (OC) Branch of INTERPOL dealing with?

The OC Branch is dealing with identified criminal organisations. It centralises, evaluates and analyses information on internationally operating criminal organisations and their activities. It conducts projects of special interest.

3. Which are the biggest criminal organisations?

Here we can name the Triads and the Yakuza, Russian organized groups from the territory of the former Soviet Union, the Italian Mafia, the South American Cartels, outlaw motorcycle gangs, etc.

4. What are the main criminal activities of criminal organisations?

Their main criminal activities are:

  • racketeering;
  • fraud;
  • car theft;
  • robbery;
  • armed assault;
  • drug dealing;
  • trafficking in weapons and radioactive material;
  • trafficking in human beings and exploitation through prostitution;
  • alien smuggling;
  • smuggling of precious and antique goods;
  • extortion for protection money;
  • gambling;
  • embezzling from industries and financial institutions up to infiltration and control of private and commercial banks;
  • controlling of black markets.

5. What projects is the OC Branch conducting?

There are projects running on:

  • organized crime groups of Eastern European origin;
  • the Italian Mafias;
  • Asian criminal organisations;
  • South American Cartels;
  • outlaw motorcycle gangs;
  • illegal immigration.

6. What is the daily work of the OC Branch and how are the projects carried out?

The work of the OC Branch creates an extensive and exhaustive database of enterprises and groups. This means that the Branches' objectives are:

  • to establish and continuously update a computerised file of information on individuals, associations and groups with international ramifications which engage in continuous criminal activities;
  • to cross check and analyse all information on organized crime supplied by member countries;
  • to pass all relevant information by way of circular letters, bulletins, reports, etc;
  • to plan co-ordinated action, list resources and organise conferences, symposia and working groups on particular topics.

7. What kind of information does the OC Branch need to reach their aims?

Once a criminal gang has been identified, INTERPOL needs information concerning:

  • the country of origin of the gang;
  • the leaders of the group and its members including personal data;
  • the criminal activities;
  • the modus operandi, particularities in the way offences are committed;
  • the operation area of the group;
  • the connection with other groups in the country and abroad;
  • further particularities, chronologies, etc.

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