Mario Puzo’s The Godfather provides only one example of the typology of organized crime. This film illustrates organized crime, where a respected Italian patriarch heads a criminal organization that performs extortion and trades illegal services and products, and uses threats of violence to attain the complicity of its members and non-members and corruption to remove obstacles to its illegal businesses. Organized crime, however, is not that simple to classify. Its typology has been a subject of debate in the field of criminal and law studies, although the FBI (2012) presents a typology that has ethnic profiling categories. This typology, however, is not cleanly cut along racial lines and forms of criminal activities.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) (2012), organized crime in the U.S. can be divided according to dominant races or ethnicities. They are the following: Russian mobsters who fled to the U.S. in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse; Chinese tongs, Japanese Boryokudan, and other Asian crime rings; the Italian Cosa Nostra organizations; Balkan groups with links to Hungary and Romania; Middle Eastern groups with traditional criminal or terrorist links; groups from African countries, like Nigeria that engage in drug trafficking and financial scams; and biker gangs.
Russian organized crimes (ROCs) are composed of any ethnic group that came from Russia, such as Armenian, Chechen, Jewish, and Ukrainian individuals (Abadinsky, 2010, p.232). These groups developed in the United States in the late 1970s and became more widespread after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 (Finklea, 2009, p.21). McMullin (2009) studied the interdependence between organized crime and conflict. Chechen groups, for instance, reinforced conflict in Kosovo through manufacturing and selling illegal goods (p.88). In addition, like other criminal organizations, Russian mobsters have legal business activities that they use to clean their dirty money, and some Russian mobsters are philanthropists (Finklea, 2009, p.21). Old style Russian criminals developed the culture of vor v zakone, which literally means a professional criminal with a good reputation in the underworld (Siegel, 2012, p.32). Like the Italian mafia, the vor v zakone has a code of conduct, or the ponyatiya, also called the “notions” (Siegel, 2012, p.32). Some of the rules of the code include not having their own families, having no emotions, not following Russian laws, and respecting and obeying the decision of their own court of thieves, among others (Siegel, 2012, p.33). Women are mostly victims in these Russian organizations, where they are trafficked for sexual exploitation (Siegel, 2012, p.32). The FBI now considers Russian mobs as the leading organized threat in the U.S. (Finklea, 2009, p.21). Russian organized crime