3 Types of organised crime

Organised crime has three major types: gang criminality, racketeering, and syndicated crime. The first has simple characteristics while the last one has a fully developed form because of which it is considered to be most dangerous to society.

1. Gang Criminality

This type of criminality includes kidnapping, extortion, robbery, vehicle theft, etc. on a large scale. Gangs are composed of tough and hardened criminals who do not hesitate to kill, assault, or use violence. They are equipped with modern pistols, bullet-proof vests, cars, etc. The gang criminals are efficient, disciplined but dangerous.


Barnes and Teeters (1951: 36) have said: “they live violently and expect violence.” Their activities are spread over a large geographical area, moving from place to place but reuniting at prearranged hideouts. They are registered as hardened and habitual criminals in police records.

These criminals are recruited from among ex-convicts, escaped murderers, professional gangsters, and high-powered robbers.

The Tyagi gang in Delhi, the Radha Yadav gang in Champaran district in Bihar, the Aran Gandhi gang in Bombay, the Vikram Singh gang in Uttar Pradesh, and the Shrikant gang in Bihar are some of the notorious gangs operating in different parts of our country, and, are engaged in robberies, kidnapping small children and wealthy individuals for obtaining ransoms, murder, extortion, and smuggling.

There exist inter-rivalries among most of these gangs. Some of the gangs are also affiliated to the syndicates, operating on a very large scale.


Some gangs organise activities and furnish brains to individuals and groups engaged in anti-social activities, taking a cut of the loot or a fixed amount of money for the help rendered. The gangs float a score of satellites including restaurants, gambling dens, underworld messengers, women and children, and hangers-on.

In December 1995, a boy was arrested at Marwar railway station in Rajasthan travelling by train and carrying Rs. 45,000 in cash in his especially stitched vest-pockets. He revealed working for a gang.

From time to time, these gangs are hunted down by the police and destroyed, though most often the gangs operate with the active co-operation of the police. Occasionally, the law enforcement officers arrest some members and even kill some others, claiming the liquidation of an underworld empire.

2. Racketeering


This is an activity of an organised criminal gang engaged in extortion of money from both legitimate and illegitimate business through intimidation of force. It also involves dishonest way of getting money by deceiving or cheating people, selling worthless goods and articles, adulterated commodities, spurious drugs and so forth.

The racketeers, unlike organised criminal gangs do not take away all the profits but allow the owners of the illegitimate business to continue their operations like prostitution, gambling, liquor trafficking, drug peddling, etc., but give them (racketeers) regular fixed money.

Sometimes, businessmen engaged in fierce competition in legitimate business, employers and labour unions involved in conflicts, landlords unable to get their houses/shops vacated from tenants, and politicians trying to eliminate their rivals hire the services of gangsters and seek their ‘help’ by paying them their ‘fees’. In some cases, these racketeers refuse to leave and continue to extort ‘fees’ from their former ’employers’.

A favourite approach of these racketeers is to approach a businessman, suggesting that he needed protection and that it could be furnished at a stipulated monthly fee.


The businessman, even if he does not need protection, is forced to accept racketeers’ ‘suggestion’. Once he starts paying the ‘fee’, he continues to pay till the racketeer functions.

The racketeers thus do nothing but live on the blood and labour of others, collecting tribute by intimidation, force and terrorism. Assault and destruction of property often accompany the organisation of the racket.

Racketeering has found a fertile field in ‘protecting’ restaurant owners and big shop owners from possible harm. By means of intimidation, racketeers are able to extort large sums of •money from the proprietors.

Failure on their part to subscribe to the protection plan results in the destruction of furniture, in the forcible taking away of goods and commodities, in the creation of nuisance by constantly sitting in restaurants/shops, or in personal violence.


Such demonstration of force by the ‘protectors’ usually convinces proprietors and other businessmen that protection is worth the money demanded for it.

According to Caldwell (op. tit., 78), the racketeering gang is divided in two groups-the ‘brains’ and the ‘muscles’. The former do the thinking, issue orders, solicit new business and arrange for protection. The latter do the beating, destroying, plundering and even killing, i.e., all what is called the ‘rough stuff.

Fitzgerald (1951: 163-64) has stated that sometimes the ‘brains’ also do the jobs of the ‘muscles’ to maintain their leadership, enforce their authority, demonstrate proper techniques, to preserve their reputation.

3. Syndicate Crime


This is furnishing illegal goods and services by an organised criminal gang, often called ‘mafia’. The illegal goods could be drugs, liquor, etc. while the illegal services could be call-girls, gambling and so forth. The syndicates create their own ‘business’ procedures, usually operating from established headquarters.

They avoid using violence which differentiates them from organised criminal gangs, who frequently use violence or threat of violence.

Society knows the members of these syndicates as respectable citizens living in posh residential areas, freely associating with high-status persons and engaged in lawful earning pursuits. They syndicates generally operate in big metropolitan areas which happen to be big centres of communication, transportation and distribution of goods.

The leaders of big crime syndicates periodically gather at fixed places to discuss problems of mutual interest and concern.

While the scope and effect of the criminal operations of syndicates vary from one area to another, the wealthiest and most influential groups operate in Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Calcutta and the capital cities of some states like Patna, Lucknow, Ahmadabad, Hyderabad, etc.

Each syndicate has a boss and an underboss. The underboss collects information and relays messages to the boss and passes instructions down to underlings. In some cases, there is no underboss but the boss has an advisor or a counselor.

Below the level of the underboss are criminals who act as ‘intermediaries’ between the upper and the lower level personnel. Some of these intermediaries act as chiefs of operating units. The lowest level members are ordinary criminals who report to the ‘intermediaries’.

Outside the structure of the syndicate are a large number of employees and agents who do most of the actual work in various criminal enterprises.