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What is Organized Crime?

Canadian Definition

Within Canadian law enforcement, a legal definition for organized crime has only existed since the late 1990's following the enactment of Bill C-95. Amendments to this area of the Criminal Code have led to the present legal definition found within section 467.1(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada , which states a "criminal organization" means a group, however organized, that:

(a) is composed of three or more persons in or outside Canada; and,
(b) has as one of its main purposes or main activities the facilitation or commission of one or more serious offences, that, if committed, would likely result in the direct or indirect receipt of a material benefit, including a financial benefit, by the group or by any one of the persons who constitute the group.

The various components that comprise this legal definition are based on the exclusion of a group of three of more persons that has formed randomly for the immediate commission of a single offence.

International Definition

Globally, a consensus on a definition for organized crime was reached in 2002. The UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime , Article 2 defines "organized criminal group" as follows: a group having at least three members, taking some action in concert (i.e., together or in some co-ordinated manner) for the purpose of committing a ‘serious crime’ and for the purpose of obtaining a financial or other benefit. The group must have some internal organization or structure, and exist for some period of time before or after the actual commission of the offence(s) involved.

Most of the major international organized crime groups are active within Canada. These groups include: Asian, Eastern European, Italian, Latin American organizations, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and a variety of domestic groups.