During the 1920s the United States chose to outlaw alcohol, and inadvertently gave the already established American Mafia, of La Cosa Nostra (Our thing) an opportunity to expand and make some real money with bootlegging and speakeasies. By the time prohibition had been repealed the Mafia had its fingers in several other enterprises such as gambling, narcotics trafficking and most notably labor racketeering. With crime on the rise, and infiltrating previously legitimate businesses, the Federal government needed a way combat these new criminals. It is important to know the racketeering schemes the Mafia was involved in and how large are far reaching they were, also what RICO is and what is used for, and finally how the Mafia was affected by RICO and its aftermath on the Mob.
Racketeering refers to criminal activity done to help an organization. A crime specifically based on the word for Mafia schemes, a racket. The most common example of such an organization would be La Cosa Nostra or better known as the Mafia, but it can apply to any organization using criminal activity to help themselves. Other examples would be motorcycle clubs, corrupt police departments, street gangs, drug cartels, corporations and even political parties. Under federal law there is a large category of crimes that fall under racketeering. Many have to deal with different kinds of fraud. Mail fraud, wire fraud, citizenship or naturalization frauds are just a few. Other crimes include bribery, counterfeiting, money laundering, murder for hire, gambling, drug trafficking, and acts of terrorism. Thanks to prohibition the Mafia in America was at an all-time high. But once the liquor was flowing legally again the Mob was forced to seek out new rackets to make money, many of which included controlling legitimate business and unions. Such as construction, waterfront commerce, the New York garment industry and even the garbage service.