Fighting organized crime in the 21st Century. Mob Museum panel

low of transnational organized crime

Organized crime is increasing focused on stealing information, not things. Theft by fraud is safer for the criminal because there’s no physical confrontation. Criminal groups now are transnational, making prosecuting them more difficult. Their leaders may be in countries or areas where they are protected by corrupt governments and officials. The consensus from panelists at a talk at The Mob Museum in Vegas last night was that biggest organized crime problem today is corruption. Without corruption, the crimes would mostly not be possible.

Non-state terrorist groups often partner with organized crime to raise the money they need. Or they may be doing the crimes themselves. When corruption in a country becomes overwhelming, it can become a failed or semi-failed state, which gives terrorist groups a safe haven.

The most effective way to stop organized crime is to follow the money. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in the U.S. Department of Treasury monitors bank transactions, looking for patterns that may indicate money laundering. They publish a list in the Federal Register of suspect foreign institutions or entities. U.S. banks will generally stop doing business with them immediately.

Currently there is a huge phishing attack coming from Romania. If you get suspect email, forward it to the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center at, which also has useful, timely news about cybercrime and identity theft.

Traditional organized crime is of course still alive and well. The Mafia (more properly known as La Cosa Nostra), has been weakened by mass imprisonments but has hardly gone away, a sentiment echoes by former Gotti enforcer John Alite when he spoke there earlier this month.

Street gangs in the US and Central America are often the distribution networks for Mexican drug cartels. And the ‘Ndrangheta in Calambria Italy is the biggest heroin distributors on the planet. And most people have never heard of them.

Transnational organized crime mostly prefers to remain in the shadows, corrupting police and politicians, and since they have no particular home and their crimes often are not locally based, prosecuting them requires new skills and approaches.

The panelists:

Tom Ott: Senior Advisor to the Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)

Patrick Brodsky: Over 25 years of multidisciplinary law enforcement experience. He currently serves as ASAC over FBI Las Vegas Division’s Criminal and Support Services Branch.

Jay S. Albanese: Professor and criminologist in the Wilder School of Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University, and served as Chief of the International Center at the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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