Organized Crimes, are the unlawful activities of the members of a highly organized, disciplined association engaged in supplying illegal goods and services, including but not yet limited to gambling, prostitution, load-sharking, narcotics, and labor racketeering. (Source: The Organized Crime Control Act of 1970) Despite federal investigations and law-enforcement efforts, organized crime continues to flourish especially during the Prohibition years, often hiding or supplementing its profits through legal store front operations and increasingly moving from blue-collar to white-collar criminal activities. The Mafia, of Sicilian origin, has played a major role. Criminal organizations have flourished in other countries as well such as the Yukuza of Japan, the Chinese Triad societies, the cocaine cartels of Colombia, and the brutal Russian Mafia.
Criminal organizations have existed in America since before the turn of the twentieth century. These organized crime groups are often involved to some degree in just about every aspect of American life. A few such groups are thought to be among the largest business like enterprises in the world.
One of the many known groups the Mafia, which is perhaps the best known criminal organization in the United States, which rose to power in the country largely through exploitation of a widespread demand for consumable alcohol during the Prohibition years. The Mafia as we know them now as Cosa Nostra, came into existence when a group of small, largely Italian decent began selling "protection" and other services such as gambling and prostitution. Today the Costa Nostra consists of 24 families based in various cities across the country. Their illegal take is estimated at around $60 billion per year. In the turn of the century in New York City, with the advent of Prohibition, financial opportunities became quite large for those willing to defy and soon organized crime activity spread.