Knowing its structure and operation could spell the difference between life and death both for those who are meant to put them down and to those who may be their unfortunate targets or victims. Proactively defending against them, or courageously advocating and fighting against them require a broad understanding of their inner workings.
Websters-online-dictionary defines organized crime as underworld organization. It further defines underworld as criminal class. These definitions presupposed a definite group of people within but underneath the class structure of society who are formed into organizations engaged in unlawful activities.
A more detailed and definite definition of organized crime, however, has become problematic because of their variety and diversity (Lampe). Lampe collected over 100 definitions one among is that by Albanese which attempted to summarize three decades of literature into the following definition: Organized crime is a continuing criminal enterprise that rationally works to profit from illicit activities. its continuing existence is maintained through the use of force, threats, monopoly control, and/or the corruption of public officials. (Lampe, Albanese, 2000: 411).
An overview of organized crime and its structure as a worldwide phenomenon can be gleaned from a paper on the Russian organized crime around the world presented by Margaret E. Beare. She cited the three-legged tripod depiction of organized crime by the Canadian police as being like a three-legged tripod consisting of the bureaucracy including politicians and security officials, underground business persons, and the professional criminals. And the merging of these three into one entity makes them a formidable enemy of the law.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, however, reports the more flexible and diversified structure of organized crime groups.