Making a Positive Impact

Which criminal offenses are RICO violations?

On Behalf of | May 3, 2024 | Criminal Law |

Many organized criminal activities fall under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. As such, RICO is a powerful tool used by law enforcement to combat organized crime.

Those who stand accused of such crimes should understand the types of offenses that can trigger RICO provisions.


The U.S. Department of Justice explains that the RICO Act exists to mitigate organized crime by putting in place laws against fraud and other racketeering operations. Fraudulent activities such as securities fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud are common violations. These offenses involve deceitful practices aimed at obtaining money or property through false pretenses, and they often occur within organized crime networks.


Offering, giving, receiving or soliciting something of value to influence the actions of an individual in a position of power are acts of bribery. RICO targets these corrupt actions, particularly when they are part of a larger criminal enterprise.


Extortion involves obtaining something, usually money, through coercion or threats. RICO can come into play when extortionate tactics are part of a scheme to exert control over businesses, individuals or even entire communities.


Producing or distributing counterfeit goods, currency, or documents is a serious offense. Organized crime groups often engage in counterfeiting as a means of generating illicit profits, and RICO provides a means to dismantle such operations.

Drug trafficking

Drug trafficking, including the production, distribution and sale of illegal substances, is a major focus of RICO enforcement efforts. Criminal organizations involved in the narcotics trade can face harsh charges for their illicit activities.

Money laundering

Concealing the origins of illegally obtained money or assets constitutes money laundering. RICO targets individuals and entities engaged in money laundering schemes, which often serve to finance other criminal endeavors.


Illegal gambling operations, including sports betting and underground casinos, are frequently targeted under RICO. These enterprises often have ties to organized crime and are subject to strict prosecution.

Understanding the types of criminal offenses that constitute RICO violations is necessary for recognizing and combating organized crime. By targeting the financial aspects and underlying criminal enterprises, RICO aims to disrupt and dismantle these networks.