Definitions of organised crime

Definition used within the SAPS Detective Service for purposes of crime threat analyses and crime intelligence statistics.

Organized crime is the systematic commissioning of crimes motivated by a craving for profit or power. A criminal group involved in organized crime needs to meet the following criteria.

1. The criminal group has to involve the collaboration of more than 2 people.

2. It has to be suspected of involvement in serious criminal offenses.

3. It has to be involved in such serious criminal activity for a prolonged or indefinite period.

4. It has to be motivated by the pursuit of profit and/or power.

5. It should simulate and/or employ commercial or businesslike structures.

6. By way of division of labour, group members should have their own appointed tasks.

7. It should employ some form of discipline and control (disciplinary sanctions)

8. It should be engaged in money laundering.

9. It should use violence and other means suitable for the purposes of intimidation.

10. It should attempt to exert influence on politics, the media, public administration, judicial authorities or the economy (corruption).

11. Abuse of state, provincial and international borders.

Before a criminal group can be identified as an organized criminal organisation, at least 6 of the criteria need to be fulfilled including the first 4 on the list. This definition caters for both criminal groups with exclusive identities and loosely-knit criminal coalitions.

SAPS Organised Crime Unit August 1997 (in Shaw)

A crime syndicate is defined as 'a well organized and structured group with a clear leadership corps, which is involved in different criminal activities such as drug trafficking, vehicle theft or money laundering. Such syndicates have well established contacts with national and international criminal organizations, cartels or Mafia groups.'

Definition used in the UN Draft International Convention against Organised Transnational Crime by the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

Option 3

1. 'Organised crime means group activities of 3 or more persons, with hierarchical links or personal relationships, which permit their leaders to earn profits or control territories or markets, internal or foreign, by means of violence, intimidation or corruption both in furtherance of criminal activity and to infiltrate the legitimate economy.'

This is expanded to include the words 'in particular by:

(a) Illicit traffic in narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances and money laundering, as defined in the UN Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988

(b) Traffic in persons as defined in the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others of 1949 Counterfeiting currency, as defined in the International Convention of the Suppression of Counterfeiting Currency of 1929

(c) Illicit traffic in or stealing of cultural objects. as defined by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Convention the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of ownership of Cultural Property of 1970 and the International Institute of the unification of Private Law Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material of 1980

(d) Terrorist acts

(e) Illicit traffic in or stealing of arms and explosive materials or devices

(f) Illicit traffic in or stealing of motor vehicles

(g) Corruption of public officials

2. For the purpose of the present Convention organised crime includes commission of an act by a member of a group as part of the criminal activity of such organization.

Interpols First International Symposium of Organised Crime at St. Cloud, France, May 1988.
"Any enterprise or group of persons engaged in a continuing illegal activity which has as its primary purpose the generation of profits, irrespective of national boundaries.'

A BKA (German Police) group

Any group of people who have consciously and deliberately decided to co-operate in illegal activities over a certain period of time, apportioning tasks among themselves and often using modern infrastructure systems, with the principle aim of amassing profits as quickly as possible.'

Interpol's Organised Crime Unit definition 1992.
'Any group having a corporate structure whose primary objective is to obtain money through illegal activities, often surviving on fear or corruption'.

Council of the European Union definition of a criminal organisation.

Article 1:
'Within the meaning of this Joint Action, a criminal organisation shall mean a lasting, structured association of more than 2 persons, acting in concert with a view to committing crimes or other offenses which are punishable by deprivation of liberty or a detention order of a maximum of at least 4 years or a more serious penalty, whether such crimes or offenses are an end in themselves or a means of obtaining material benefits and if necessary, of improperly influencing the operation of public authorities.
The crimes or other offenses referred to in the first paragraph include those mentioned in art. 2 of the Europol Convention and in the Annex thereto and carry a sentence at least equivalent to that provided for in the first paragraph.'

Article 2:
'To assist the fight against criminal organizations, each member state shall undertake to ensure that one or both of the types of conduct described in paragraph 1 or paragraph 2 are punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties.
1. Conduct by any person who, with the intent and with knowledge of either the aim and general criminal activity of the organisation or the intention of the organisation to commit the Offenses question, actively takes part in:

the organization's criminal activities falling within art. 1, even where that person does not take part in the actual execution of the offense concerned, and subject to the general principles of the criminal law of the member state concerned, even where the offenses concerned are not actually committed

the organization's other activities in the further knowledge that his participation will contribute to the achievement of the organization's criminal activities falling within art. 1

2. Conduct by any person consisting in an agreement with one of more persons that an activity should be pursued which, if carried out, would amount to the commission of offenses falling within art. 1, even if that person does not take part in the actual execution of the activity.'

Peter Gastrow
'Organized crime consists of those serious criminal offenses committed by a criminal organisation which is based on a structured association of more than 2 persons acting in concert over a prolonged period of time in pursuit of both their criminal objectives and profits.'

A crime syndicate is a criminal organization engaged in the commission of serious criminal offenses, which is based on a structured association of more than 2 persons acting in concert over a prolonged period of time in pursuit of both their criminal objectives and profits.'

Australian National Crime Authority
For the purposes of describing the broader criminal environment, the National Crime Authority defines organized crime as a systematic and continuing conspiracy to commit serious offenses.

1. Structure
corporate structure
hierarchical links
personal relationships
more than 2 (3) persons acting in concert
appointed tasks
discipline and control

2. Ongoing
prolonged period of time

3. Involved in
serious offenses
illegal activity

4. In pursuit of
criminal objectives
criminal activity
infiltration of the legitimate economy
Permit leaders to earn profits, control territories or markets

5. Means

6. Jurisdiction
irrespective of national boundaries
internal or foreign

7. Enumeration of offenses
illicit trade in drugs, pyschotropic substances and money laundering
traffic in persons
counterfeiting currency
illicit traffic in or stealing cultural objects
terrorist acts
illicit traffic I or stealing arms an explosives materials or devices
illicit traffic in or stealing motor vehicles
corruption of public officials

8. Penalties
Punishable by deprivation of liberty or a detention order of at least 4 years or a more serious penalty.