Decoding Albanian Organized Crime

Decoding Albanian Organized Crime: Culture, Politics, and Globalization

Jana Arsovska
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Pages: 312
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt13x1h1s
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  • Book Info
    Decoding Albanian Organized Crime
    Book Description:

    The expansion of organized crime across national borders has become a key security concern for the international community. In this theoretically and empirically vibrant portrait of a global phenomenon, Jana Arsovska examines some of the most widespread myths about the so-called Albanian Mafia. Based on more than a decade of research, including interviews with victims, offenders, and law enforcement across ten countries, as well as court files and confidential intelligence reports,Decoding Albanian Organized Crimepresents a comprehensive overview of the causes, codes of conduct, activities, migration, and structure of Albanian organized crime groups in the Balkans, Western Europe, and the United States. Paying particular attention to the dynamic relationships among culture, politics, and organized crime, the book develops a framework for understanding the global growth of the criminal underworld and provides a model for future comparative research.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95871-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xxiv)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xxv-xxviii)
  6. AUTHOR’S NOTE
    (pp. xxix-xxx)
  7. Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION: Ethnic Mob on the Rise
    (pp. 1-12)

    By 2004 the Balkan wars were officially over and the region seemed to be stabilizing. But mediators and politicians who initially took pride in bringing an end to the Yugoslav wars now were asking themselves if this newfound peace in the Balkans would be sustainable, or if it would devolve into another wave of wrenching violence. Some believed that what had been achieved in the Balkan region had nothing to do with a commitment to the peace process, or to a change of heart among rival leaders with conflicting visions. They feared that greed and violence still hung heavy in...

  8. Chapter 2 WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
    (pp. 13-77)

    Most conventional perspectives on organized crime start with the assumption that criminals are “rational” and approach their crimes in the calculating spirit of making money. But are Albanian criminals strategic players motivated by economic payoffs, or are their decisions based on normative-affective considerations? Might organized crime be as much about emotions—hatred, anger, frustration, excitement, and love—as it is about poverty, possession, and wealth?

    In 2005, when Sali Berisha became Albania’s prime minister, the Albanian government clamped down on key organized crime figures. Twelve of the largest criminal clans in the country were investigated in 2005, and more than...

  9. Chapter 3 ON THE RUN: Albanians Going West
    (pp. 78-115)

    The common perception is that Albanian organized crime groups that now play a significant role in the European and American organized crime scene started to develop rapidly after the fall of communism in the early 1990s. By 1999, as a result of the activities of some Albanian criminal groups and the great deal of international attention these groups received, Albanian criminals were considered to be a dangerous breed, posing a significant threat to Western society. In 2000, one of Italy’s top prosecutors, Cataldo Motta, said that Albanian organized crime had become a point of reference for all criminal activity: “Everything...

  10. Chapter 4 IRON TIES: In Blood We Trust
    (pp. 116-152)

    One of the most common descriptions of the so-called Albanian mafia is that it is a hierarchically structured, clan-based organization resembling the Sicilian mafia and the American La Cosa Nostra (LCN). The myth has it that the typical structure of the Albanian mafia is that of a family clan, referred to as afisor afare. Several mafia families have an executive committee known as abajrakand select a high-ranking member for each family unit. Each unit is led by akrye, or “boss,” who selectskryetar, or “underbosses,” as well as amiq, who acts as a...

  11. Chapter 5 VIOLENCE, HONOR, AND SECRECY
    (pp. 153-194)

    Ethnic Albanian organized crime groups are known to be ruthless and unpredictable.¹ Since the early 1990s, violent home invasions, witness intimidation, assaults, kidnappings, decapitations, drive-by shootings, contract killings, and threats to law enforcement agents and prosecutors have been integral parts of the ethnic Albanian modus operandi. Albanian organized crime groups became infamous not only for their disregard for human life, but also for their “code of silence” and alleged loyalty to the members of their criminal organizations. An experienced FBI agent described Albanian criminals as “hot-headed individuals” who will do anything to achieve their ends. “However,” he said, “if an...

  12. Chapter 6 SEX, GUNS, AND EXTORTION
    (pp. 195-224)

    Ethnic Albanian organized crime groups have been actively involved in criminal activities such as trafficking of women for sexual exploitation, extortion, and selling and buying illicit firearms. It also appears that they have used cultural values other than valor, mutual aid, and secrecy to justify these crimes, to negate the intent of their actions, and to dehumanize their victims.

    Careful examination of the cultural influences behind some common Albanian criminal activities may help to clarify the sensationalized relationship between culture and organized crime. For example, according to traditional Albanian culture, male honor is closely linked to the possession of firearms...

  13. Chapter 7 CONCLUSION: Dangerous Hybrids? What Now?
    (pp. 225-236)

    Albanian criminal organizations have become more active in the United States and Europe since the mid-1980s. At first, with a few exceptions, these organizations in the United States were involved in low-level crimes, including ATM burglaries, home invasions, and bank robberies. Later, ethnic Albanian offenders affiliated themselves with the established families of La Cosa Nostra (LCN) in New York, acting as low-level participants in activities such as gambling, extortion, violent witness intimidation, and even murder. As Albanian communities became better established in the United States, these criminal groups expanded to lead and control their own organizations, particularly those involved in...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 237-246)
  15. REFERENCES
    (pp. 247-266)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 267-280)