RICO (The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act)

RICO (The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act)United States Federal Law does everything in its power in order to combat the continuing growth of criminal organizations. One of the countermeasures initiated in 1970, is an Act relating to the control of organized crime in the United States, also known as RICO (OCCA).

RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. This term applies to a Federal Law, designed to combat organized groups running illegal business (i.e. racketeering), which may include the importation and sale of illegal drugs, gambling, money laundering, prostitution rings, bribery, drug trafficking, slavery, or any act involving murder, kidnapping, arson, robbery, extortion, dealing with obscene matter, terrorism, bankruptcy or security fraud, helping aliens to enter illegally the country, dealing with controlled substance, etc. Title 18, Section 1961 of the U.S. Code sets a long list of racketeering activities, some are mentioned above. In addition, there exists the notion of “Protection Rackets” – meaning organizations extorting money from businesses for covering against crimes that will be committed by the criminal organization itself.

RICO (The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act)RICO was enacted by the Congress in October 15, 1970, mainly involving illegal activities relating to any enterprise interstate or foreign commerce. Firstly, it was conceived in order to combat Mafia groups. The older forms of racket were drug trafficking, prostitution or sex trafficking, and counterfeiting. Lately, this industry involved other kinds of businesses (from corrupt police departments to trafficking contraband cigarettes).


  • Murder - the unlawful premeditated killing;
  • Kidnapping - taking someone away illegally by force, typically to obtain a ransom;
  • Arson - the criminal act of deliberately setting fire to property;
  • Robbery - the felonious taking of the property of another from his or her immediate presence, against his or her will, by violence or intimidation.
  • Gambling - act of giving money, goods or other forms of recompense to a recipient in exchange for an alteration of their behavior (to the benefit/ interest of the giver) that the recipient would otherwise not alter;
  • Bribery (ex. sports bribery) – act of giving money, goods or other forms of recompense to a recipient in exchange for an alteration of their behavior (to the benefit/interest of the giver) that the recipient would otherwise not alter;
  • Extortion - the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats;
  • Dealing in obscene matter;
  • Fraud in the sale of securities, or the felonious manufacture, importation, receiving, concealment, buying, selling, or otherwise dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical;
  • Counterfeiting - an imitation intended to be passed off fraudulently or deceptively as genuine; 
  • Theft from interstate shipment;
  • Embezzlement from pension and welfare funds, unlawful welfare fund payments;
  • Extortion of credit transactions;
  • Fraud and activity in connection with identification documents;
  • Fraud and relating activity in connection with access devices;
  • Information gambling;
  • Mail fraud - any fraudulent scheme to intentionally deprive another of property or honest services via mail or wire communication;
  • Wire fraud - financial fraud involving the use of telecommunications or information technology;
  • Financial Institution fraud;
  • Procurement of citizenship or nationalization unlawfully;
  • Reproduction of naturalization of citizenship papers;
  • Obstruction of justice - obstructing prosecutors or other, usually government, officials
  • Obstruction of criminal investigations;
  • Tampering/retaliating against with a witness, victim or an informant;
  • False application and use of passport;
  • Misuse of visas, permits and other documents;
  • Interstate transportation of wagering paraphernalia;
  • Peonage - also called debt slavery or debt servitude, is a system where an employer compels a worker to pay off a debt with work;
  • Slavery, human trafficking -  is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others;
  • Laundering of monetary instruments - the process of creating the appearance that large amounts of money obtained from serious crimes, such as drug trafficking or terrorist activity, originated from a legitimate source;
  • Illegal money transmitters;
  • Sexual exploration of children;
  • Interstate transportation of stolen motor vehicles or other stolen property;
  • Criminal infringement of a copyright;
  • Unauthorized services bearing counterfeit marks;
  • Trafficking contraband cigarettes;
  • Biological weapons, chemical weapons, nuclear materials - the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as viruses, and fungi with the intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war;
  • Payments and loans to labor organizations;
  • Acts of terrorism – the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.


The punishment for this kind of crime consists in imprisonment up to 20 years (ex. from 5 years for criminal prosecution and 4 years for prosecution), or fines up to $ 25,000. In addition, any money gained after committing crimes, or gained from them will be confiscated – forfeiture of all illegally obtained gains. Also, RICO allows private business or individuals sue for compensation in case that they were harmed by racketeering. This means that anyone damaged can receive 3 times the amount of actual loss.

Under RICO, a person can be charged with racketeering if he or she committed “at least two acts of racketeering activity” out of 35 listed by law crimes within a period of 10 years.

Liability for a Rico Violation requires a person to be involved in an organization (enterprise) that pursues racketeering activity. In order to be charged with RICO violation, the following requirements must be included:

  • The individual must be associated with a criminal enterprise;
  • The person charged must have participated in the organization through a pattern or racketeering activity;
  • The individual’s activities must affect interstate commerce;
  • The person must own or manage an organization that performs illegal activities;
  • Having connections with criminal organizations.

Racketeering has damaging consequences for both public and private institutions. Being accused of a criminal law violation might have serious consequences. Each crime has its own details and circumstances that define it, so make sure you have a qualified criminal attorney on your side. All you have to do is go to Legal Bistro, create an account and describe your case. Don’t forget that you remain absolutely anonymous until you decide to reveal your identity to the attorney that you choose.

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