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date: 17 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This essay explains the success that the United States has had in dismantling the Italian-American Mafia or Cosa Nostra (LCN) crime families. Most important is the FBI’s determination to eliminate LCN and the FBI’s independence from political interference. FBI investigators and federal agents have also been able to rely on powerful investigative tools, including electronic eavesdropping, informants and cooperating witnesses. Organized crime defendants can be preventively detained pending trial. The RICO (Racketeer and Corrupt Organizations) law facilitates effective prosecution and authorizes long, even life, prison terms. While good reason exists to trust the prevailing view that LCN is no more than a shadow of its former self, there has been no systematic evaluation of the current status of Italian-American organized crime. iI the definition of the organized crime problem is broadened to include hundreds of other ethnic factions and street gangs, successful organized crime control is much more problematic.

Keywords: FBI, organized crime control, La Cosa Nostra, RICO, wiretapping, preventive detention

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