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What Is the Rico Statute?


There came a point in history when organized criminal activities were rampant and needed to be addressed in an appropriate and timely manner. Thus, a federal law was enacted to target such organized criminal acts. This federal law is referred to as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or the RICO statute.


As part of Chapter 96, Title 18 of the US Code, the RICO statute provides the rules and regulations for the definition of criminal acts and procedures. The main purpose of the RICO statute was due to the existence of the Mafia, a criminal organization that engaged in activities such as prostitution, gambling, and money laundering. However, the RICO statute continues to be enforced in order to address other criminal organizations.


As part of the Organized Crime Control Act, the RICO statute was finally enacted after 2 lengthy sets of Congressional hearings. The act was one of the first laws that addressed gambling organizations. Under the terms and conditions of the RICO statute, a person can be found guilty of bribery, extortion, loan sharking, murder, illegal drug sales, prostitution rings, and all other forms of racketeering, if he or she has met the criteria of having committed 2 of either the 27 federal or 8 state crimes within 10 years. Given this law, the government is within its right to arrest and prosecute such guilty individuals even if they have not directly committed the acts. This is so because such individuals are still part, if not in charge of, such criminal acts.

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