This module is a resource for lecturers


The manner in which organized crime is carried out is different from many other crimes. Most thefts and assaults do not entail planning or organization in their commission. They are most commonly the result of spontaneous decisions made by individuals as the opportunity presents itself. Sometimes these criminal decisions are irrational and carried out for emotional or symbolic reasons.

Organized crime, by definition, requires more than one person and some degree of planning and organization in carrying out the criminal conduct. Even though the crime itself could be committed by an individual (e.g., illicit drug sales), organized crime requires more people and planning to carry out this crime on a systematic basis. Therefore, the more systematic nature of organized crime activity makes it more serious with the potential of causing greater harm and affecting more victims over a longer period of time.

Several criminal offences have been established over the years to capture the organized commission of crimes due to their greater seriousness and the need to make distinctions between, for example, an individual drug seller and the trafficking of narcotics of a systematic scale. Similarly, there is a large difference between one individual exploiting another versus the operation of a human trafficking enterprise. This Module examines offences that involve organizing the commission of crimes.

Topics covered

  • Criminalizing participation in an organized criminal group
  • Conspiracy
  • Criminal association
  • Membership in an organized criminal group
  • Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO)
  • Obstruction of justice

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the elements of conspiracy and criminal association as legal tools in proving organized criminal conduct.
  • Recognize the concept of racketeering as a method to criminalize those who organize to commit crime as part of an ongoing enterprise.
  • Apply the elements of obstruction of justice in protecting organized crime activity.
Next: Key issues
Back to top