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date: 16 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This introduction for the Oxford Handbook of Organized Crime begins with the proposition that there are two main notions and types of organized crime: (a) a set of stable organizations illegal per se or whose members systematically engage in crime and (b) a set of serious criminal activities, and particularly the provision of illegal goods and services, mostly carried out for monetary gain. Whereas instances of the first type are relatively rare, criminal money-making activities, which also entail predatory and extortionary activities, occur everywhere. Governments cannot uproot these activities, but they can affect the size, structure, and operating methods of the groups that engage in them. In countries with an effective government, in particular, large-scale criminal organizations are not allowed to consolidate. The control of whatever type of organized crime does not come without a cost, however. Hence, the chapter/article argues, the overall goal of organized crime control policies should be to reduce the total harms resulting from both the organized crime phenomena and the control policies.

Keywords: organized crime, illegal market activities, predatory activities, extortion, crime policy, drug policy

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