Pub. date: 2002 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412950664 | Print ISBN: 9780761922582 | Online ISBN: 9781412950664 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Organized crime can be broadly defined as two or more persons conspiring together on a continuing and secretive basis, with the aim of committing one or more serious crimes to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit. One of the most significant trends in organized crime in recent years has been the ever-increasing internationalization of criminal groups and their illegal activities. By definition, some forms of crime, such as smuggling, necessitate crossing national borders. Even before the twentieth century, criminal groups were involved in smuggling contraband, drugs, and even human cargo. Despite the historical prevalence of organized smuggling, however, most organized crime groups prior to the 1980s were confined to and controlled specific local territories, did not usually attempt to operate outside their spheres of influence, and only rarely cooperated with other crime syndicates. Since the 1980s, organized crime has increasingly become international in character. The unprecedented ...