What is RICO and is it a Crime?

Learn about RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and whether it’s a crime. Explore examples, case studies, and statistics on this powerful tool against organized crime.


RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a federal law designed to combat organized crime in the United States. But is RICO itself a crime? Let’s delve into the details to understand this complex issue.

What is RICO?

RICO was passed in 1970 as part of the Organized Crime Control Act. It allows prosecutors to bring charges against individuals or entities that engage in a pattern of racketeering activities.

What Constitutes a Racketeering Activity?

Racketeering activities include but are not limited to bribery, fraud, extortion, money laundering, and illegal gambling. In order to be charged under RICO, a person or organization must commit at least two acts of racketeering within a ten-year period.

Is RICO Itself a Crime?

No, RICO is not a crime. It is a tool used by law enforcement to prosecute those involved in organized crime. However, violating RICO can result in severe penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines.

Examples of RICO Cases

  • One of the most famous RICO cases is the prosecution of the Gambino crime family in the 1980s. Several high-ranking members of the organization were indicted under RICO and convicted of various crimes.
  • In more recent years, RICO has been used to target white-collar criminals, such as corporate executives involved in financial fraud schemes.

Statistics on RICO Convictions

According to the Department of Justice, there were over 1,400 RICO convictions between 2015 and 2020. These convictions ranged from drug trafficking to corruption to human trafficking.


While RICO is not a crime itself, it is a powerful tool in the fight against organized crime. Those who engage in racketeering activities should be aware of the severe consequences that come with violating RICO laws.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *