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A protection racket is a type of racket and a scheme of organized crime perpetrated by a potentially hazardous organized crime group that generally guarantees protection outside the sanction of the law to another entity or individual from violence, robbery, ransacking, arson, vandalism, and other such threats, in exchange for payments at regular intervals. Each payment is called "protection money" or a "protection fee". Depending on strictness of the protection racket's policy, each payment is either due: once a day, once a week, or once every two weeks. An organized crime group determines an affordable or reasonable fee by negotiating with each of its payers, to ensure that each payer can pay the fee on a regular basis and on time. Protections rackets can vary in terms of their levels of sophistication or organization; it is not uncommon for their operations to emulate the structures or methods used by tax authorities within legitimate governments to collect taxes from taxpayers.
The perpetrators of a protection racket may protect vulnerable targets from other dangerous individuals and groups or may simply offer to refrain from themselves carrying out attacks on the targets, and usually both of these forms of protection are implied in the racket. Due to the frequent implication that the racketeers may contribute to harming the target upon failure to pay, the protection racket is generally considered a form of extortion. In some instances, the main potential threat to the target may be caused by the same group that offers to solve it in return for payment, but that fact may sometimes be concealed in order to ensure continual patronage and funding of the crime syndicate by the coerced party.
The protection racket sells physical security. Through the credible threat of violence, the racketeers deter both third-party criminals and people in their own criminal organization from swindling, robbing, injuring, sabotaging, or otherwise harming their clients. The racket often occurs in situations and places where criminal threats to certain businesses, entities, or individuals are not effectively prevented or addressed by the prevailing system of law and order or governance, or in cases of inadequate protection by the law for certain ethnic or socioeconomic groups. Protection rackets tend to form in markets in which the law enforcement cannot be counted on to provide legal protection, because of incompetence (as in weak, corrupt, or failed states), illegality (when the targeted entity is involved in black markets), and/or because forms of government distrust exist among the entities involved. Hence, protection rackets are common in places or territories, where criminal organizations resemble de facto authorities, or parallel governments. Sicily, Italy is a great example of this phenomenon, where the Cosa Nostra collects protection money locally and resembles a de facto authority, or a parallel government.
Protection rackets are often indistinguishable in practice from extortion rackets, and generally distinguishable from social service and private security by the degree of implied threat; the racketeers themselves may threaten and attack businesses, technological infrastructure, and citizens if the payments are not made. A distinction is possible between a "pure" extortion protection racket, in which the racketeers might agree only not to attack a business or entity, and a broader protection racket offering some real private security in addition to such extortion. In either case, the racketeers generally agree to defend a business or individual from any attack by either themselves or third parties (other criminal gangs). In reality, the distinction between the two types of protection rackets is dubious, because in either case extortion racketeers may have to defend their clients against rival gangs to maintain their profits. By corollary, criminal gangs may have to maintain control of territories (turfs), as local businesses may collapse if forced to pay for protection from too many rackets, which then hurts all parties involved.
Certain scholars, such as Diego Gambetta, classify criminal organizations engaged in protection racketeering as "mafia", as the racket is popular with both the Sicilian Mafia and Italian-American Mafia.
A protection racket is an operation where racketeers provide protection to persons and properties, settle disputes and enforce contracts in markets where the police and judicial system cannot be relied upon.
Diego Gambetta's The Sicilian Mafia (1996)  and Federico Varese's The Russian Mafia (2001)  define the mafia as a type of organized crime group that specializes in the provision of private protection.
Protection racketeers or mafia groups operate mostly in the black market, providing buyers and sellers the security they need for smooth transactions; but empirical data collected by Gambetta and Varese suggests that mafia groups are able to offer private protection to corporations and individuals in legal markets when the state fails to offer sufficient and efficient protection to the people in need. Two elements distinguish racketeers from legal security firms. The first element is their willingness to deploy violent forms of retribution (going as far as murder) that fall outside the limits the law normally extends to civilian security firms. The other element is that racketeers are willing to involve themselves in illegal markets.
Recent studies show that mafia groups or gangs are not the only form of protection racket or extra-legal protector, and another important form of protection racket is corrupt networks consisting of public officials, especially those from criminal justice agencies.  For example, Wang's The Chinese Mafia (2017)  examines protection rackets in China and suggests two types of extra-legal protectors, namely the Black Mafia (local gangs) and the Red Mafia (networks of corrupt government officials). Wang's narrative suggests that local gangs are quasi-law enforcers in both legal and illegal markets, and corrupt public officials are extra-legal protectors, safeguarding local gangs, protecting illegal entrepreneurs in the criminal underworld, offering protection to businesspeople, and selling public appointments to buyers.
A protection racketeer cannot tolerate competition within his sphere of influence from another racketeer. If a dispute erupted between two clients (e.g. businessmen competing for a construction contract) who are protected by rival racketeers, the two racketeers would have to fight each other to win the dispute for their respective clients. The outcomes of such fights can be unpredictable, and neither racketeer would be able to guarantee a victory for his client. This would make their protection unreliable and of little value; their clients would likely dismiss them and settle the dispute by other means. Therefore, racketeers negotiate territories in which they can monopolize the use of violence in settling disputes.  : 68–71 These territories may be geographical, or they may be a certain type of business or form of transaction.
Sometimes racketeers will warn other criminals that the client is under their protection and that they will punish anyone who harms the client. Services that the racketeers may offer may include the recovery of stolen property or punishing vandals. The racketeers may even advance the interests of the client by forcing out (or otherwise hindering or intimidating) unprotected competitors. 
Protection from theft and vandalism is one service the racketeer may offer. For instance, in Sicily, mafiosi know all the thieves and fences in their territory, and can track down stolen goods and punish thieves who attack their clients.
Protection racketeers establish what they hope will be indefinitely long bonds with their clients. This allows the racketeers to publicly declare a client to be under their protection. Thus, thieves and other predators will have little confusion as to who is and is not protected.
Protection racketeers are not necessarily criminals. In A Short History of Progress , Ronald Wright notes on p. 49, "The warrior caste, supposedly society's protectors, often become protection racketeers. In times of war or crisis, power is easily stolen from the many by the few on a promise of security. The more elusive or imaginary the foe, the better for manufacturing consent."
Government officials may demand bribes to look the other way or extort something of value from citizens or corporations in the form of a kickback. It need not always be money. A lucrative job after leaving office may have been in exchange for protection offered when in office. Payment may also show up indirectly in the form of a campaign contribution. Stopping governments agencies as a whole, and buying protection in the government is called regulatory capture.
Organized crime is a category of transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run by criminals to engage in illegal activity, most commonly for profit. While organized crime is generally thought of as a form of illegal business, some criminal organizations, such as terrorist groups, rebel forces, and separatists, are politically motivated. Many criminal organizations rely on fear or terror to achieve their goals or aims as well as to maintain control within the organization and may adopt tactics commonly used by authoritarian regimes to maintain power. Some forms of organized crime simply exist to cater towards demand of illegal goods in a state or to facilitate trade of goods and services that may have been banned by a state. Sometimes, criminal organizations force people to do business with them, such as when a gang extorts money from shopkeepers for "protection". Street gangs may often be deemed organized crime groups or, under stricter definitions of organized crime, may become disciplined enough to be considered organized. A criminal organization can also be referred to as a gang, mafia, mob, (crime) ring, or syndicate; the network, subculture, and community of criminals involved in organized crime may be referred to as the underworld or gangland. Sociologists sometimes specifically distinguish a "mafia" as a type of organized crime group that specializes in the supply of extra-legal protection and quasi-law enforcement. Academic studies of the original "Mafia", the Italian Mafia, which predates the other groups, generated an economic study of organized crime groups and exerted great influence on studies of the Russian mafia, the Chinese Triads, the Hong Kong Triads, and the Japanese Yakuza.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act is a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization.
Extortion is the practice of obtaining benefit through coercion. In most jurisdictions it is likely to constitute a criminal offence; the bulk of this article deals with such cases. Robbery is the simplest and most common form of extortion, although making unfounded threats in order to obtain an unfair business advantage is also a form of extortion.
Russian organized crime or Russian mafia, otherwise known as Bratva, is a collective of various organized crime elements originating in the former Soviet Union. The initialism OPG is Organized Criminal Group, used to refer to any of the Russian mafia groups, sometimes modified with a specific name, e.g. Orekhovskaya OPG. Sometimes the initialism is translated and OCG is used.
"Mafia" is an informal term that is used to describe criminal organizations that bear a strong similarity to the original "Mafia", the Sicilian Mafia. The central activity of such an organization would be the arbitration of disputes between criminals as well as the organization and enforcement of illicit agreements between criminals through the use of or threat of violence. Mafias often engage in secondary activities such as gambling, loan sharking, drug-trafficking, prostitution, and fraud.
The Sicilian Mafia, also simply known as the Mafia and frequently referred to in the United States as Cosa nostra by its members, is an Italian Mafia-terrorist-type criminal society originating on the island of Sicily and dating to at least the 19th century. It is a loose association of organized criminal syndicates that share a common organisational structure, code of conduct or "honor" and present themselves to the public under a common brand. The basic group is known as a "family", "clan", or cosca. Each family claims sovereignty over a territory, usually a town, village or neighbourhood (borgata) of a larger city, in which it operates its rackets. Its members call themselves "men of honour", although the public often refers to them as mafiosi. By the 20th century, wide-scale emigration from Sicily, facilitated the formation of mafiosi style gangs in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and South America. These diaspora based outfits replicated the traditions and methods of their Sicilian ancestors to varying extents. The Mafia's core activities are protection racketeering, the arbitration of disputes between criminals, and the organizing and oversight of illegal agreements and transactions.
Racketeering is a type of organized crime in which the perpetrators set up a coercive, fraudulent, extortionary, or otherwise illegal coordinated scheme or operation to repeatedly or consistently collect a profit.
Organized crime in Italy and its criminal organizations have been prevalent in Italy, especially Southern Italy, for centuries and have affected the social and economic life of many Italian regions since at least the 19th century.
A crime family is a unit of an organized crime syndicate, particularly in Italian organized crime and especially in the Sicilian Mafia and Italian American Mafia, often operating within a specific geographic territory or a specific set of activities. In its strictest sense, a family is a criminal gang, operating either on a unitary basis or as an organized collection of smaller gangs. In turn, a family can be a sole "enterprise" or part of a larger syndicate or cartel. Despite the name, most crime families are generally not based on or formed around actual familial connections, although they do tend to be ethnically-based, and many members may in fact be related to one another.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, African-American organized crime emerged following the first and second large-scale migration of African-Americans from the South to major cities of the Northeast, Midwest, and later the West Coast. In many of these newly established communities and neighborhoods, criminal activities such as illegal gambling, speakeasies and bootlegging were seen in the post-World War I and Prohibition eras. Although the majority of these businesses in African-American neighborhoods were operated by African Americans, it is often unclear the extent to which these operations were run independently of the larger criminal organizations of the time.
A series of meetings between Sicilian Mafia and American Mafia members were allegedly held at the Grand Hotel et des Palmes in Palermo, Sicily, between October 12–16, 1957. Also called the 1957 Palermo Mafia summit, the summit discussed the international illegal heroin trade in the French Connection. The FBI believed it was this meeting that established the Bonanno crime family in the heroin trade.
The pizzo is protection money paid to the Mafia often in the form of a forced transfer of money resulting from extortion. The term is derived from the Sicilian pizzu ('beak'). To let someone wet their beak is to pay protection money. The practice is widespread in Southern Italy, not only by the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, but also by the 'Ndrangheta in Calabria and the Camorra in Campania.
Michael Clemente, , was a New York mobster in the Genovese crime family who became a major force in controlling the East River waterfront of Manhattan from the 1940s to 1979. His principal territory was between piers 36 and 42. In 1943, Clemente, who was a Caporegime of Joseph Lanza, took over his boss's waterfront rackets at the Fulton Fish Market on the East River when "Socks" Lanza went to prison for 7½ years for extortion.
The American Mafia, commonly referred to in North America as the Italian American Mafia, the Mafia, or the Mob, is a highly organized Italian American criminal society and organized crime group. The organization is often referred to by its members as Cosa Nostra and by the American government as La Cosa Nostra (LCN). The organization's name is derived from the original Mafia or Cosa nostra, the Sicilian Mafia, with "American Mafia" originally referring simply to Mafia groups from Sicily operating in the United States, as the organization initially emerged as an offshoot of the Sicilian Mafia formed by Italian immigrants in the United States. However, the organization gradually evolved into a separate entity partially independent of the original Mafia in Sicily, and it eventually encompassed or absorbed other Italian immigrant and Italian-American gangsters and Italian-American crime groups active in the United States and Canada that were not of Sicilian origin. In North America, it is often colloquially referred to as the Italian Mafia or Italian Mob, though these terms may also apply to the separate yet related Sicilian Mafia or other organized crime groups in Italy or ethnic Italian crime groups in other countries.
Diego Gambetta is an Italian-born social scientist. He is a professor of social theory at the European University Institute in Florence, a Carlo Alberto Chair at the Collegio Carlo Alberto in Turin, and an official fellow at Nuffield College, University of Oxford. He is well known for his vivid and unconventional applications of economic theory and a rational choice theory approach to understanding a variety of social phenomena. He has made important analytical contributions to the concept of trust by using game theory and signalling theory.
This is a glossary of words related to the Mafia, primarily the Italian American Mafia and Sicilian Mafia.
"Forget about it" is, like, if you agree with someone, you know, like "Raquel Welch is one great piece of ass. Forget about it!" But then, if you disagree, like "A Lincoln is better than a Cadillac? Forget about it!" You know? But then, it's also like if something's the greatest thing in the world, like, "Minchia! Those peppers! Forget about it!" But it's also like saying "Go to hell!" too. Like, you know, like "Hey Paulie, you got a one-inch pecker?" and Paulie says "Forget about it!" Sometimes it just means "Forget about it."
The Brooklyn Camorra or New York Camorra was a loose grouping of early-20th-century organized crime groups that formed among Italian immigrants originating in Naples and the surrounding Campania region living in Greater New York, particularly in Brooklyn. In the early 20th century, the criminal underworld of New York City consisted largely of Italian Harlem-based Sicilians and groups of Neapolitans from Brooklyn, sometimes referred to as the Brooklyn Camorra, as Neapolitan organized crime is referred to as the Camorra. this group had several distinct differences from their more well known counterparts, Namely "different organizational models. While Cosa Nostra and ‘Ndrangheta are characterized by a unitary, vertical structure and higher-level coordination bodies, Camorra has a plurality of organizational models; the majority of clans maintain a structure that is fluid, polycentric, and conflictual." This lack of structure makes the Camorra a particularly unique group to study as, "The Camorra is a closed sect that acts in the shadows and does not collect and preserve documents that can later be studied by scholars or researchers. It is hard to rebuild the history of the Camorra: the picture is fragmented, a mix of half-truths and legends."
The Kazan phenomenon was a term used by journalists to describe the rise in street-gang activity in the city of Kazan in the RSFSR and later, the Russian Federation.
A triad is a Chinese transnational organized crime syndicate based in Greater China with outposts in various countries having significant overseas Chinese diaspora populations.
The Georgian mafia is regarded as one of the biggest, most powerful and influential criminal networks in Europe, which has produced the largest number of "thieves in law" in all former USSR countries and controls and regulates most of the Russian-speaking and fully controls Russia and Georgia mafia groups. They are very active in Russia and Europe. The Georgian mafia has two major criminal clans from Tbilisi and Kutaisi. Georgia always had a disproportionately high number of crime bosses and still has a majority of the 700 or so still operating in the post-Soviet space and western Georgia is particularly well represented.