Racketeering is the act of running an illegal business and earning an illegal income. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act is a law that makes racketeering a federal crime in a nationwide effort to stop organized crime. When people think of racketeering in the United States, they often consider the significance of the RICO Act.
An overview of the RICO Act
The RICO Act is classified as Title IX of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. It was originally enacted to criminalize the various illegal business activities of the Mafia. Since 1972, 32 states have implemented RICO laws to seek out and punish acts of racketeering.
Racketeering is a type of organized crime that consists of many different illegal activities. Their criminal activities often cross interstate or international lines and become federal crimes that must be prosecuted by the federal government. There are certain qualities that define racketeering, such as:
- It is organizational
- It involves commerce
- It involves patterns of activity
A racketeering charge is often linked to other crimes like extortion, fraud, blackmail or physical violence. These are called predicate acts that are less severe but necessary to carry out more serious crimes. Money laundering is a common crime that is used to cover the illegality of a business that appears legitimate on the outside.
Racketeering charges to stop nationwide crime
Many illegal businesses involve interstate or foreign transactions that affect hundreds up to millions of people, so it's necessary for racketeering to be a federal crime. In the U.S., the RICO Act made racketeering and organized crime at the forefront of criminal law starting in the 1970s.