Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Organized Crime - Revisited

In April of this year Whitecaps posted three pieces about the changing faces and places of organized crime.

It was not surprising that some commenters were amused or annoyed that Whitecaps would even suggest northern Idaho has organized crime. The amused were those in denial. They refuse to believe regardless of overwhelming evidence. The annoyed were some who are profiting either directly or indirectly from it.

In May 2007 The Police Chief magazine published an article authored by William F. Bratton, Chief of Police, Los Angeles, California. In his article, titled The Mutation of the Illicit Trade Market, Chief Bratton notes that, "...organized-crime entities have morphed from the traditional fixed hierarchies with controlling leaders or families to more decentralized, loosely linked, multiple networks that come together and cooperate only on an opportunistic basis and then separate. "

These evolutionary changes have made it both possible and easier for organized crime networks to become active in arenas beyond their traditional dealings in drugs, prostitution, gambling, and money laundering. They're diversified. Now they're into real estate mortgage fraud and (again quoting Chief Bratton's article) "...the very profitable sale of untaxed cigarettes, human trafficking, and counterfeiting of virtually any product" such as baby formula, prescription pharmaceuticals, wearing apparel, and over-the-counter health products.

As organized crime group definitions have become less distinct, it has become even more difficult for law enforcement to recognize them and mount a counterattack. It requires strong state and federal laws and imaginative, aggressive, and honest prosecutors and investigators. It also requires local and state governments, particularly legislators, work harder to educate themselves about the changing faces and tactics of organized crime. Once educated, legislators must ensure their states' laws are up-to-date and provide the framework necessary for investigators and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute organized crime.

It should shock no one to hear that those involved in organized crime are well aware that the honest public officials and law enforcement officers represent a significant threat to the success of their illicit efforts. Thus, organized crime entities place the corruption of local and state public officials and law enforcement high on their list of priorities. If they "own" the lawmakers and other elected and appointed officials, regulators, and law enforcement officers, their lucrative criminal enterprises will prosper.

Addendum 06-19-2007: Whitecaps offers a big thank-you to Stebbijo at stebbijo.com and the INWBA for passing along the link to the indictment Stebbijo mentioned in her comment appended to this post.


Blogger DanG said...

When I think "organized crime" I think of the Don Corleone/Tony Soprano type of hood. But I know that the legal definition is different. As an experienced law enforcement officer, what's the difference between the criminal who robs a convenience store and the organized crime you speak of? E.g., how does the law define the "organized" part?

9:26 AM, June 18, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


That's a very good question.

The best explanation is on the FBI's Organized Crime Glossary webpage.

If you apply the glossary terms to the news stories about the eastern Washington - northern Idaho cigarette smuggling investigation, you'll see that was a criminal enterprise that would qualify for an "organized crime" designation.

The OC designation has somewhat less legal importance and more operational importance in the investigative stage. OC investigations are costly in terms of money, manpower, and time. They often require multi-agency involvement. Because OC is almost by definition an ongoing criminal enterprise, investigating them requires patience and time. An investigation can be ongoing for months, often years, before the public learns about it. Ideally, we (the public) first learn about it when the US attorney holds a press conference to announce that arrest warrants have been served in response to federal grand jury indictments.

12:12 PM, June 18, 2007  
Anonymous stebbijo said...

When I think of organized crime here in Idaho - I think of men wearing Woolrich plaid shirts and Carthart jeans with suspenders. They are usually from families who have been here forever. They are the folks who you want to go hunting with but will never ever tell you where the elk really are. It's secret. They have worked themselves into positions of influence and are connected and usually are valuable enough for a 'trade' of some sort.

These same people become pawns in the game of OC and have been manipulated/used by a local network of bankers,lawyers ect.,and police officers who will do special favors for any particular reason and then to save your @ss you learn to play - they become part of the dirt - then the "organized part" just takes because by then - they are ALL dirt. 'They' in essence work for each other with their own hierarchy on or off the golf course. Somebody always OWES somebody.

For instance this case involves a local boy out of Priest River Idaho. Broker charged with money laundering

12:51 PM, June 18, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


Thanks for the great comment. The newspaper article you linked to was very instructive and was a good answer to DanG's question as well.

Here's a re-link to Stebbijo's article Broker charged with money laundering.

1:26 PM, June 18, 2007  
Anonymous stebbijo said...

Here is the almost 200 page indictment on that case (pdf file) - not sure what has happened however - regarding penalties ect.


Here is an excerpt:

"The defendants and their associates would accomplish much of the activity listed in this
indictment, including the conduct of their financial affairs, through or with the help of attorneys,accountants, money managers, and other professionals in order to give an air of legitimacy to their transactions, to give the appearance of complying with the law, to avoid the creation of any public record upon which or in which their true names or identities would appear, to make it more difficult to trace their criminal proceeds, to provide legal advice on how to carry out their criminal activities without being caught, to ensure that their associates who were arrested received little, if any, punishment, and to ensure that their associates did not cooperate with the police by providing information regarding the defendants and their associates."

5:29 PM, June 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, How much do you know about churches and money laundering? Here is an interesting article you might like to read.

10:12 PM, June 18, 2007  
Blogger Bill McCrory said...


Thanks for the link to the CBS piece. Nearly any organization that moves a large amount of cash can be used for money laundering. Religious organizations are no less vulnerable. In some instances a religious organization (whether real or created to facilitate crime) may be an attractive host concealment for crime because sometimes people are very quick to condemn any governmental scrutiny of the religious organization's finiancial dealings. "How dare you challenge the (insert favorite religious organization name here)'s motives!"

What the CBS piece seemed to be demonstrating was a church scam rather than a legitimate religious organization being abused. Legitimate religious organizations and their members and contributors became the victims of the scam. An interesting and related tax scam is the Corporation Sole.

One of the more difficult things for anyone whose religion is faith- and trust-based to accept is that there are predators who will prey upon their trust and faith. Sometimes some of the predators are inside the religious organization.

Thanks again.

7:08 AM, June 19, 2007  

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