Global Dynamics

Inteligence Profiling

Russian Organized Crime

Nothing exemplifies transnational organized crime (TOC) other than Russian Organized Crime.  This is due to the fact that a weak governmental infrastructure served to allow criminal elements to rise to the point where organized crime in Russia can hardly be separated from legal governmental agencies.  In addition to this, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to a lack of legal business ventures leading to a rise of a criminal class which has lead Russian Organized crime to become transnational.  Russian Organized crime groups will engage in traditional forms of organized crime including identity theft, money laundering, weapons trafficking, human trafficking and narcotics trafficking.

“In the decade since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the world has become the target of a new global crime threat from criminal organizations and criminal activities that have poured forth over the borders of Russia and other former Soviet republics such as Ukraine” (Finckenauer, & Voronin, 2001, June). There are several reasons for the rise in Russian organized crime groups since the fall of the Soviet Union.  First, and most important, with a slow economy there was a lack of traditional forms of business available in the former Soviet Union leading crime groups to begin to branch out and spread into other areas.  Much as traditional organizations would diversify or branch out to make money, organized crime groups will also diversify and branch out in for financial gain.  A second possible reason that organized crime groups in Russia have spread since the fall of the Soviet Union is due to relaxed travel restrictions since the fall of the Soviet regime.  It is also important to note that levels of crime in a given area will have an impact on the development of organized crime.  “The general level of crime in a country is an apparent primary condition for organized crime. High-crime countries are more likely than low-crime countries to have organized crime. This is because organized crime and common crime are influenced by many of the same factors. Crime is related to the degree of urbanization and industrialization and to social disorganization—factors that produce criminal opportunities and thus more crime” (Finckenauer, & Voronin, 2001, June). This is more than likely due to the fact that areas with low crime will have more opportunity of economic growth and employment.

 Poverty will bread crime as there is a lack of opportunity for economic growth and employment this lack of potential to make money leads individuals to engage in criminal activity as there is a lack of legitimate opportunity.  The following bit of research may seem at odds with the above statements, but we must consider the makeup of society for the reasoning behind this research “Crime is related to the degree of urbanization and industrialization and to social disorganization—factors that produce criminal opportunities and thus more crime. Organized crime is especially likely to be more prevalent in cities and countries with advanced levels of economic development” (Finckenauer, & Voronin, 2001, June). Industrialization and urbanization mean the moving of individuals from rural areas(such as farms) to cities, industrialization means moving the economy of an area(state) from tradition forms of business to more industrialized forms(such as from a farming society to a manufacturing society).  This leads to overcrowded urban areas and new skill sets required for employment.  Simply because a society is becoming more urbanized and industrialized does not mean larger opportunities for every individual it simply means more people living in urban areas and the need for increased levels of education to fill industrialized working environments.  This in and of itself will lead to higher levels of crime and the increase in organized crime.  Add to this organized crime develops due to the fact that certain individuals will seek items that are in short supply (for example drugs).  An organized crime group will develop to fill the demand in a society.  Organized crime groups develop as a last resort to supply goods that are in high demand but short supply in an area.

What is interesting and increasing important from a law enforcement point of view:  Organized crime groups are increasing combining forces so to speak and instead of committing crimes indecent of other organized crime groups organized crime groups are working together to accomplish a common goal.  “To date, U.S. IA enforcement officials have established a clear relationship between ROC (Russian Organized Crime) groups and La Cosa Nostra (LCN), the Italian-American criminal network in the United States. The LCN is cooperating with ROC groups on activities related to gambling, extortion, prostitution, and fraud. In the "Red Daisy" case, FBI and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) observance of a ROC fuel excise tax fraud scheme in New Jersey led to the indictment of 15 Russian immigrants and provided information that conclusively linked the involved Russians with members of the LCN. This case eventually proved that the ROC group was paying dividends to the LCN for each dollar of the illegal $140 million in profit earned through the fraud scheme” (The Russian Mafia In North America - Rcmp Report, 1997). This is important to note due to the fact that independent of each other Russian Organized Crime Groups and Italian Crime groups are both responsible for a wide variety of organized crime and murder.  If these groups are willing to merge or at the very least occasional work together for a common goal, organized crime is witnessing the end of traditional groups and the rise of Organized Crime Conglomerates.  Meaning, much like in traditional business companies merge to form larger business entities, organized crime groups are merging to form larger organized crime organizations that will be based in several independent counties making it even more difficult for law enforcement to identity and investigate leading to an increase in the level or organized crime throughout the world.

There is also more than enough evidence to indicate that these groups are operating within the United States “In testimony before the U.S. Senate, FBI director Louis Freeh stated that some 27 ROC groups had been identified as operating in the United States. The activities of these groups are believed to center primarily around such major U.S. cities as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and New York. One MVD official stated that ROC activities in the United States include money laundering, illegal money transactions, and narcotics trafficking. Other countries with a known and active ROC presence include Germany, with 47 groups; and Italy, with 60 groups. The MVD estimates that over 100 ROC groups are active in at least 50 countries” (The Russian Mafia In North America - Rcmp Report, 1997). This should indicate that it is no longer possible for American Law enforcement and other Criminal Justice professionals to believe that the field of Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement should focus only on the United States.  It is now vital that Criminal Justice professionals have an understanding of Transnational Organized Crime groups.  If an effort is not made to stop these groups in the early stages of formation within the U.S. these groups will continue to grow and flushing leading to increasing crime rates domestically.


Finckenauer, J. O., & Voronin, Y. A. (2001, June). The Threat of Russian Organized Crime. U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved May 5, 2013, from

The Russian Mafia In North America - Rcmp Report | Mafia Power Play | FRONTLINE | PBS. (1997). PBS: Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved May 6, 2013, from