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Causes of Organized Crime: Do Criminals Organize Around Opportunities for Crime or Do Criminal Opportunities Create New Offenders?

NCJ Number
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice Volume: 16 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2000 Pages: 409-423
Date Published
November 2000
15 pages

This study examined the assumption that crime-prone individuals or organizations move to exploit changing criminal opportunities and considered the competing explanation that new criminal opportunities, such as Internet access, money laundering, and political disruptions, provide motivation for individuals who were not formerly connected with criminal activity.


Detailed case studies of organized criminal groups and activities are used to look at the nexus between criminal opportunities and criminal groups. A model that employs both opportunity and offender availability factors is proposed to predict the incidence of organized criminal activity. Such a model also has implications for the extent to which law enforcement agencies and public policies should focus on the surveillance of known criminal groups versus proactive strategies to reduce criminal opportunities that emerge from social and technological changes. The model shows some ability to distinguish between high incidence and low incidence forms of organized crime. The author indicates additional case studies of organized crime will be needed to measure its nature and environment with greater precision. 23 references, 2 tables, and 1 figure

Date Published: November 1, 2000