Methods of Organized Crime Operation
Organized crime groups have adopted a variety of methods of operation to increase their profitability; expand and maintain their base of power; and insulate themselves both from law enforcement detection and action. While some groups retain a degree of hierarchy and core membership, most operate in fluid networks, working either competitively or collaboratively within multiple criminal markets. The following methods of operation are typically used to gain a competitive advantage in the criminal marketplace:
Violence and Intimidation
Many organized crime groups use violence and intimidation either as part of their long-term strategic plans or in spontaneous acts of aggression. Typically, violence and intimidation are used to solidify or further a crime group’s involvement within a criminal market. It is usually directed either externally against criminal rivals or internally within their own organization to maintain discipline. In some instances, lower-level criminal groups will pose a more immediate and direct public safety threat through acts of violence that are often carried out in public places. These violent, lower-level criminal groups are largely but not entirely composed of street gangs, some of which have committed assaults or shootings in public places across the country. In some instances, intimidation is used against individuals and their communities to silence witnesses to crimes.
As methods of operation change and criminal activities become more complex, organized crime groups use and manipulate individuals or organizations with critical skills. Where individuals with critical skills necessary to facilitate certain crimes (such as securities fraud, counterfeiting, mortgage fraud, etc.) are absent, skilled outsiders are either recruited or coerced into provision of these services. For instance, organized crime groups continue to exploit financial professionals, such as accountants, bank representatives and lawyers to facilitate fraud or the movement of money through different stages of the money laundering process.
The methods used by organized crime to launder money range from simple techniques requiring minimal expertise to more complex methods requiring additional coordination. Lower-level criminal groups conduct simpler laundering methods including the use of cash-intensive businesses (e.g. restaurants), casinos, currency exchanges and the purchase of luxury goods. Higher-level criminal groups will continue to insulate themselves through more complex methods such as real estate ventures and off-shore investment opportunities, which exploit weaknesses in the global financial regulatory and reporting systems. Criminal groups also use both legitimate and shell companies to launder money as this allows for the co-mingling of funds, provides the appearance of legitimacy and insulates groups from detection.
RICHARD DESCHENES, DIRECTOR GENERAL, SÛRETÉ DU QUÉBEC
“Certain players in the world of organized crime have demonstrated refined and sophisticated methods of infiltrating the legitimate economy. Their use of nominees and facilitators as a means of reducing the risk of detection complicates investigations into their activities.”