What are RICO Charges?

Learn about RICO charges and how they are used to combat organized crime. Explore examples, case studies, and statistics on the impact of RICO convictions.


RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) charges are a powerful tool used by federal prosecutors to combat organized crime. This statute allows for the prosecution of individuals involved in criminal organizations that engage in a pattern of racketeering activities.

What Constitutes Racketeering?

Racketeering includes crimes such as fraud, bribery, extortion, money laundering, and murder committed as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. To be charged under RICO, the individual must have engaged in at least two acts of racketeering within a ten-year period.

Examples of RICO Cases

One famous RICO case is the prosecution of the Gambino crime family in the 1980s. The leaders of the Mafia syndicate were charged under RICO for their involvement in a wide range of illegal activities, including drug trafficking, extortion, and murder.

Case Studies

In 2019, the Mexican drug lord Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán was convicted on RICO charges for his role in running the Sinaloa drug cartel. The evidence presented at trial showed a pattern of racketeering activities, including drug trafficking and violence.


According to the U.S. Department of Justice, RICO convictions have increased steadily over the past decade. In 2020, there were over 500 RICO convictions nationwide, with the majority of cases involving organized crime syndicates and drug cartels.


RICO charges are a powerful tool for law enforcement to dismantle criminal organizations and hold their leaders accountable. By targeting the financial structure of these groups, RICO laws can disrupt their illegal activities and bring about justice for victims of organized crime.

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