Effectiveness of the Government's Attack on La Cosa Nostra

T-OSI-88-2: Published: Apr 11, 1988. Publicly Released: Apr 11, 1988.

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GAO discussed the effectiveness of the U.S. government's law enforcement efforts directed at La Cosa Nostra, a sophisticated national criminal organization. GAO noted that La Cosa Nostra: (1) consists of several tiers of criminal enterprises, employing at least 2,000 members, with each member having various associates; (2) depends on violence for enforcement, competition elimination, and administration; and (3) makes money through involvement in street vice, murder, political corruption, and labor-union domination. GAO also found that federal efforts to curtail La Cosa Nostra include: (1) increasingly sophisticated use of electronic surveillance methods; (2) joint work with state and local agencies and commissions; (3) a focus on administrative heads within the organization, resulting in the conviction of 16 criminal bosses and depletion of criminal ranks; (4) civil suits seeking trusteeship of organized-crime-dominated labor unions; and (5) enactment of legislation producing longer sentences and encouraging witness cooperation. GAO believes that future federal efforts should include: (1) careful strategic planning; (2) restructuring of industries most vulnerable to organized crime; (3) rapid implementation of legislative tools; (4) vigorous enforcement of immigration laws to keep other foreign criminals from establishing organizations in the United States; (5) further actions against organized-crime-dominated unions; (6) attacks on member recruitment and induction; and (7) increasing public understanding and awareness of criminal activities.

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