Rackets are businesses or organizations that engage in illegal activities like sex trafficking, drug trafficking, prostitution, illegal weapons sales and counterfeiting. These criminal organizations — which are sometimes referred to as “mobs,” “the mafia” or “organized crime groups” — seek to make large profits quickly via criminal activities.
Organized crime has also found its way into other areas of business. For example, mafia organizations might infiltrate labor unions to take money out of worker pension accounts, or they might infiltrate corporations to pilfer corporate accounts of millions of dollars in funds.
2 organized crime rackets that will surprise you
The above-referenced examples are some of the more common types of “racketeering” scenarios, but there are countless other rackets that we’ve seen in history — the audacity of some of them may surprise you.
1. Newspaper slugging
Newspaper slugging, unfortunately, is exactly what it sounds like. In the early 1900s, some newspapers would use violence to sell their papers. Newspaper bosses would contract boxers and street thugs to beat up newspaper stand owners who did have their publications for sale. The thugs who carried out the violence were referred to as newspaper sluggers.
The infamous newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst, hired a top slugger to create an army of newspaper sluggers to ensure that all newstands carried his paper, the Chicago American. The men wielded blackjacks and brass knuckles to beat up any offending newsstand owners and send truckloads of competing papers into the river. The racketeering worked, and the Chicago American became the most successful paper in Chicago.
2. Protection rackets
Two famous mobsters, Moe Sedway and Bugsy Siegel set up a racket where they required street vendors to pay them five dollars in exchange for their “protection” services. However, what protection actually meant was that the vendors would be protected from Moe and Bugsy, who wouldn’t set the vendors’ merchandise on fire.
Protection rackets threaten business owners with the destruction of property or physical violence in exchange for money. However, in Sicily, in the 1800s, these rackets were actually much nobler, as the old school mafia would offer protection to their patrons from unfair competition and thievery. Italian immigrants brought the concept to the United States, but it didn’t usually express itself in such egalitarian terms.
Were you accused of racketeering?
If convicted of racketeering, you could find yourself facing a long-term jail sentence. As such, Colorado residents facing racketeering charges will want to learn as much as possible about their legal rights and options in order to craft a well-organized and strategic criminal defense.