Nontraditional Organized Crime:

Law Enforcement Officials' Perspectives on Five Criminal Groups

OSI-89-19: Published: Sep 29, 1989. Publicly Released: Nov 6, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on Colombian, Jamaican, Chinese, and Vietnamese street gangs operating in the United States, and about street gangs in Los Angeles, California, focusing on: (1) particular problems these groups have posed for law enforcement agencies; and (2) law enforcement officials' views on such organized crime activity.

GAO found that: (1) Colombian traffickers control the worldwide manufacture and distribution of cocaine, have established extensive trafficking networks extending throughout the United States, and have frequently used violence against anyone threatening their operations; (2) several Colombian cartel officials have been extradited to the United States for prosecution; (3) Jamaican posses were among the most violent gangs known to law enforcement officials, and were primarily engaged in the crack cocaine market; (4) Chinese organized crime was a complex relationship between U.S.- and foreign-based criminal organizations and fraternal and business associations in the United States, primarily involved in racketeering, gambling, prostitution, and corruption; (5) law enforcement authorities were concerned that the transfer of control of Hong Kong to China in 1997 will cause criminal organizations in Hong Kong to relocate to the United States and Canada; (6) Vietnamese criminal gangs were highly mobile, frequently travelling great distances to commit relatively minor crimes, and were primarily involved in property crimes; (7) there were two major street gangs in Los Angeles, primarily involved in drug trafficking, and both had expanded their trafficking activities nationwide; and (8) law enforcement officials believed that their efforts against nontraditional organized crime were hampered by a lack of centralization, language differences and a shortage of interpreters, and the difficulties inherent in penetrating tightly knit ethnic communities, and that a multi-agency approach was the best way to combat nontraditional organized crime.

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