Stronger Federal Effort Needed in Fight Against Organized Crime

Gao ID: GGD-82-2 December 7, 1981

Organized crime derives billions of dollars in illegal income annually from its activities. It is costing the government approximately $100 million a year to fight organized crime. The strike force program was designed to focus an experienced and coordinated federal enforcement and prosecutive attack against this major national problem. GAO was requested to evaluate Justice's role in impeding, restricting, and combating organized crime activities and to conduct a followup of a prior GAO report dealing with organized crime strike forces.

GAO found that efforts made on the part of the Department of Justice to better plan, organize, and direct the federal effort against organized crime have led to strike forces successfully obtaining indictments against and prosecuting high level organized crime figures. The establishment of the National Organized Crime Planning Council to coordinate efforts against organized crime, the setting of broad priorities and targets, the use of case initiation reports and efforts to develop an evaluation system are steps in the right direction. Justice must do more to improve the focus and direction of the program by establishing executive committees in each strike force. Law enforcement agencies must be brought into the activities to develop specific priorities and targets to break up organized crime. GAO found that the full potential of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) statute in the fight against organized crime has not been realized. While the statute has been used to obtain significant sentences for some convicted defendants, there have been few asset forfeitures in organized crime cases. RICO does not adequately introduce concepts not commonly used in criminal law. What has emerged are a variety of interpretations and tests which are sometimes inconsistent among jurisdictions. The final outcomes of federal efforts against organized crime are the indictment, conviction, and imprisonment of organized crime figures. The federal goal of disrupting organized crime will be difficult to accomplish under current sentencing patterns.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

Director: Arnold P. Jones Team: General Accounting Office: General Government Division Phone: (202) 512-7797

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