Contacts, Opportunities, and Criminal Enterprise

Contacts, Opportunities, and Criminal Enterprise

CARLO MORSELLI
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 210
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442673304
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  • Book Info
    Contacts, Opportunities, and Criminal Enterprise
    Book Description:

    Success in criminal enterprise largely depends on how offenders go about committing their crimes. An offender?s search for increasing financial returns and decreasing costs is mediated by the structure of his pool of useful and trustworthy contacts. InContacts, Opportunities, and Criminal Enterprise, Carlo Morselli examines how business-oriented criminals who have personal networks designed to promote high numbers of diverse contacts achieve and maintain competitive advantages in their earning activities and overall criminal careers.

    Based on two case studies of criminal careers in international cannabis smuggling and Cosa Nosta racketeering, the book proposes a social network framework to study the underlying social relationships influencing achievement in crime. Morselli further utilizes this relational approach to illustrate how survival and long-term endurance in criminal enterprise is achieved, and how criminals? networks of contacts and opportunities can insulate them from potentially career-damaging forces ? law enforcement, fellow criminals, etc.Contacts, Opportunities, and Criminal Enterpriseis a much-needed assessment of criminal activity.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7330-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-9)

    I began this study during the mid-1990s with the intention to develop an understanding of social networks within the area of organized crime. At that early point, I mistakenly assumed that studying organized crime would lead me to criminal structures that were formally organized, that provided immensely prosperous opportunities for members, and that employed violent and forceful methods of control. My review of the research within this area and a variety of case analyses have taught me otherwise. One of the first things that you learn when you approach the growing research surrounding organized crime and analogous areas is that...

  5. 1 Conceptual Discrepancies
    (pp. 10-18)

    Much work has been devoted to distinguishing between criminal (or illegal) enterprise and organized crime. Rather than pursue this debate, I have chosen to fuse the two and use them interchangeably. The studies advancing this debate have not convinced me that such distinctions warrant the creation of alternative concepts. Aside from apparent discrepancies between the organizational levels of working groups, their geographic and market scope, and the popularized threat that they are alleged to present, the idea of criminal enterprise is very much akin to that of organized crime.

    For comparative purposes, take the distinction that Naylor (1997) makes between...

  6. 2 A Personal Network Framework for Criminal Enterprise
    (pp. 19-37)

    How can one endure for two decades as an international cannabis smuggler without having the organizing force and support of a reputed and resource-yielding criminal organization? How, at the same time, may we account for the consistent findings throughout the past three decades that criminal organizations, such as the Mafia or Cosa Nostra (or any other ethnically defined criminal unity), are not structured along the formal criteria professed by Cressey (1969) and consistently maintained in official, law-enforcement accounts?¹ While past studies have generally turned to explanations in which the capacity and reputation for violence and corruption are regarded as the...

  7. 3 Sources and Method
    (pp. 38-54)

    The source that became the factual basis for the present study sprang to my attention not during a formalized and elaborately planned fieldwork project, but in a casual encounter. When she learned that I was researching drug trafficking networks, a Scottish optometrist I had met while travelling in Spain suggested I read the autobiography of Howard Marks (1997), a famous Welsh cannabis smuggler. After returning from Spain, I purchased Marks’ book,Mr. Nice, and found it to be rich in details of the author’s operations as an international cannabis trafficker, as well as revealing a wide array of contacts who...

  8. 4 Structuring Mr. Nice
    (pp. 55-82)

    In July 1988, Dennis Howard Marks (a.k.a. Donald Nice, Brendan McCarthy, Stephen McCarthy, Peter Hughes, Anthony Tunnicliffe) was arrested by members of the Spanish National Police at his residence in Palma de Majorca, Spain. This arrest was the beginning of a judicial process that would have him extradited to the United States for prosecution under charges including conspiracy, money laundering, and participation in Racketeering-Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO). Following a two-year battle against his extradition and the charges laid against him in the United States, Marks pleaded guilty to racketeering and conspiracy to racketeer. He was subsequently sentenced to two consecutive...

  9. 5 Career Opportunities in the Cosa Nostra
    (pp. 83-104)

    In December 1990, the FBI terminated a decade of surveillance that targeted one of the key Cosa Nostra units in New York City. The arrests of the Gambino family administration – boss John Gotti, underboss Salvatore Gravano, and consigliere Frank Locascio – led to a series of turnabouts resulting from Gravano’s decision, in October 1991, to become an FBI informant.

    Gravano provided evidence that led to the eventual conviction of Gotti and Locascio. Both received life sentences without parole. Gravano also attested to his own participation in nineteen murders as well as a wide array of other criminal activities throughout his twenty-five-year...

  10. 6 Privileged Positioning and Access to Lethal Violence
    (pp. 105-119)

    One of the principal distinctions between Marks’ independent career in the international cannabis trade and Gravano’s career as a Cosa Nostra– linked construction racketeer was the absence of violence in the former and its substantial presence in the latter. The previous two chapters have demonstrated that these criminal entrepreneurs both benefited from relational forces that allowed them to advance within their respective earning activities. This chapter will consider the presence of violence, and more particularly lethal forms of violence, throughout Gravano’s career. The aim here is to situate scenes of violence within the network process that has already been revealed...

  11. 7 Summary and Extensions
    (pp. 120-131)

    This book was driven by an incentive to develop a framework that highlights the network properties structuring thriving careers in criminal enterprise. The assumption is that in identifying factors that promote relative success in crime, we can also infer how the lack of such factors may limit criminal achievement. A review of past research on purposive action in social networks, organized crime contexts, and more general co-offending settings, in tandem with the case studies conducted here, gives us a series of guiding generalizations that can be investigated in further case studies or tested across wider samples of offenders.

    In emphasizing...

  12. Appendix A: Contact Matrices for Marks’ Importation Consignments
    (pp. 132-139)
  13. Appendix B: Contact Matrices for Gravano’s Promotional Phases
    (pp. 140-144)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 145-154)
  15. Index
    (pp. 155-159)