The Wikipedia page on organized crime defines it as:
Organized crime is a category of transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals, who intend to engage in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit.
Organized crime is portrayed in some of my favorite shows: Sons of Anarchy, The Sopranos, Peaky Blinders, and The Shield. Usually, the show’s main characters have to deal with being charged under RICO at some point (except Peaky Blinders, for obvious reasons). RICO stands for Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations. RICO is meant to combat criminal enterprises, but has been used against Hell’s Angels, the Mafia, the MLB, Pro-Life organizations, and the Catholic Church.
Recently, there is a really interesting, really rough sounding RICO case in Pennsylvania. To meet the RICO criteria, an organization or an “Enterprise” in this case:
… a person who has committed “at least two acts of racketeering activity” drawn from a list of 35 crimes—27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes—within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering if such acts are related in one of four specified ways to an “enterprise”.
The indictment has some pretty damning accusations:
18. On or about November 26, 2007, in attempting to get the password for M.C.’s palm pilot, defendant THOMAS LICIARDELLO told defendant LINWOOD NORMAN and Jeffrey Walker to do whatever they had to do to get the password.19. On or about November 26, 2007, defendant LINWOOD NORMAN and Jeffrey Walker punched M.C. in the stomach.20. On or about November 26, 2007, defendant LINWOOD NORMAN lifted M.C. off his feet and leaned him over a balcony railing on the 18th floor of his apartment house.
21. On or about November 26, 2007, members of the enterprise and their associates took money from M.C.’s nightstand and used it to purchase pizza for defendants PERRY BETTS, MICHAEL SPICER, and LINWOOD NORMAN, and Jeffrey Walker without M.C.’s permission.
30. On or about October 22, 2008, defendant THOMAS LICIARDELLO transported R.N., whom the defendants suspected of being a drug dealer, to his parent’s residence on South Darien Street in Philadelphia.31. On or about October 22, 2008, after gaining entry to the home, defendant THOMAS LICIARDELLO threatened to seize R.N’s parent’s home unless R.N. opened a safe. When R.N. relented and opened the safe for LICIARDELLO, the defendants took approximately $20,000 in drug proceeds from the safe.
42. On or about September 6, 2009, Jeffrey Walker took possession of three of the four kilograms of cocaine that defendant LINWOOD NORMAN and Jeffrey Walker had seized from O.R.45. On or about September 6, 2009, Jeffrey Walker subsequently gave the three kilograms of cocaine to defendant LINWOOD NORMAN so that he could sell them. After selling the cocaine, defendant NORMAN gave $17,000 to Walker, representing his share of the proceeds from the sale of the three kilograms of cocaine.
54. On or about February 24, 2010, defendant MICHAEL SPICER punched J.K., whom the defendants suspected of being a drug dealer, in the mouth, knocking out some of his lower teeth, and held J.K over a balcony from approximately thirty feet off the ground in an effort to learn the location of drugs and money inside the apartment.55. On or about February 24, 2010, one or more of the defendants asked J.K. where the drugs and the money were, causing J.K to inform them that he had money in a piece of luggage and a dresser drawer.56. On or about February 24, 2010, defendants THOMAS LICIARDELLO, BRIAN REYNOLDS, PERRY BETTS, and MICHAEL SPICER seized $210,000 in cash from inside J.K.’s apartment and one or more of the defendants stole a Calvin Klein suit.
86. On or about November 3, 2011, defendants BRIAN REYNOLDS and PERRY BETTS and other persons known and unknown to the grand jury confiscated from a dresser drawer $6,000 in federal government flood relief funds that had been provided to T.A. to compensate her for damage caused by flooding. Defendants REYNOLDS and BETTS also confiscated a gold ring and a handgun registered to T.A.