Organised crime is a catchall concept. Everybody uses it in the media, politics and private discussions. It does not mean anything at all, which is exactly the reason why it is so used and popular! Talking about organised crime is like talking about “organised tourism” or “ organised trade”. Tourism today is the biggest industry, generating the biggest turnover globally. But nobody would ever be foolish enough to think that tourism is a concept that can be reduced to a bunch of actors and a bunch of practices: it is a complex web or non-permanent activities without lin between them. Most of the money made is local (related to a region, a country, a city), by small to medium entrepreneurs (travel agents, hotels etc.), in specific segments (winter skiing, summer camp, etc.). Obviously it is global because the clientele is travelling, but there is no central actor steering all this from behind the scene. Yet, we tend to think that is the case with organised crime, some families or groups being in the manoeuvre of structured international crimes. Following the analogy with tourism, of course crime is organised, but in a geographic scope and different market segments. Crime, like any other human activities, is marked by incoherence, amateurism, selfishness, lack of information exchange, rivalry, unrational decisions, etc. Criminals try to reduce these dysfunctions by increasing the quality of management of their undertakings. And by doing so, they have to concentrate their forces on specific fields. Mafia in Sicily for example is fragmented in different villages' and towns’ groups that do not have regular contacts - or are even in competition. Criminal groups in the USA are organised according to neighbourhood limits of big cities. They might have links with groups abroad, but not in the long term and formal way we could think. Therefore, policing should not be too much internationally oriented when fighting “organised crime”, but always assume that most of the evidences are there, somewhere under their eyes. Therefore, they must understand that each police offcier is a link in the control of criminal activities, even those that have international links. In these cases, it might help to follow them to the end, but starting from the international side of organised crime makes us forget to look at small criminal deeds that might be good hints of bigger schemes. In addition, disorganised crime is flexible, precisely because it is disorganised. If a market does not pay, then is is deserted, and the staff changes. If organised crime was so organised, it would be easier to dismantle it: find the head, identify the deputies and destroy the firm piece by piece, like you would dismantle a big bank. The fact that it is more disorganised that organised, or, in other words, organised but in small clusters, makes it more difficult to grasp, and fight.
07 juillet 2009