Organized criminal groups are characterized by their ultimate purpose, which is to obtain a financial or other material benefit. With this aim, some organized criminal groups are connected by shared ethnicity or friendship and family ties, but many others are organized as less formal networks.
The models of organized criminal groups can be grouped into three general types: those that adopt a hierarchical structure, those that emphasize local cultural connections, and those that emphasize the economic, business nature of organized crime. There is some degree of overlap among the models. But in all cases, organized crime functions as entrepreneurial activity in which economic criminal opportunities are exploited based on their availability, the demand for an illicit product, competition from other groups, and the regulatory and enforcement capacity of the jurisdictions involved.
Less formal, more fluid networked connections among members of organized criminal groups have developed, given the changing nature of the criminal marketplace, the changing nature of cyber communications and the illegal products available via the Internet and the Darknet. This situation enables offenders to avoid face-to-face contact with each other - and in many cases with their victims -, causing changes in the way that organized criminal groups are structured.