The hit series on HBO ran out its string last night, and this morning a lot of folks are talking about the ending, which is doubtless how everyone with the show wanted things to go. Me, I never watched the “Sopranos”, largely because I did not feel the need to shell out money to a cable company for something of such variable quality and annoying scheduling. But even if it had been on my set, I don’t know that I would have watched. OK, part of that is because I am in school again, and spent most of yesterday doing Cost Analysis and Quant homework (and a couple hours trying to treat a rash on my dog and to find out what was causing it). But another part is because movies and shows about the Mob are getting further and further away from the reality. While “wise guys” and the Mafia are still around, especially on the East Coast, they are a small minority of Organized Crime in America, and they are losing ground. The vanguard of Organized Crime is both more savvy and dangerous than the old guard ever could claim.
There are six types of Organized Crime groups generally operating in the United States or targeting Americans:
 Race-based groups (like the Bloods and the Crips, the Yakuza, or Aryan groups)
 Nationality-based groups (like the Yardies from Jamaica, or the Mexican Syndicate)
 Professional Crime Organizations (like various Triad groups, the Moran family, or the Russian Bratva)
 Religious organizations (like the Michigan ‘Militia’, Al Qaeda, or Lebaron’s “family”)
 Street Gangs (small local operations)
 Political Crime Organizations (like the Earth Liberation Front and ALF)
These organizations participate in a combination of five key types of activity:
 Vice (prostitution, pornography, gambling)
 Fraud (credit card, internet, real estate)
 Drugs (distribution routes and bulk manufacture)
 Robbery (especially small businesses)
 Contract Violence (against rival groups, for causes, assassinations, or against threats like witnesses)
The key difference between the old-guard Mafia and modern Organized Crime, is that the new guard has learned to much better conceal its actions, to act unseen by normal people. That does not mean that OC groups have given up violent methods, however. Consider these real-life events and the possible TV show or movie plots which could be made from them:
** A gang sets a bomb off under a van belonging to a bombmaker for a rival gang.
** Hurricane Katrina sends hundreds of gang members out of their home turf as refugees in another major city, where they get into turf wars with established street gangs when they try to carve out new territory.
** Home invasion gangs target ethnic business owners with families, especially young children, who are kidnapped and held while the parents are compelled to collect a ransom. The families are dissuaded from going to the police by a suspicion of an authority alien to them, as well as reminders from the gang that while the police will do their reports and leave, the gang can come back at any time.
** Control of illegal aliens being considered a valuable commodity, gangs will hijack delivery of illegal immigrants in bloody raids.
** Women from Asia are coerced to serve as sex slaves for years, in order to “pay” for their trip to America. Such women are often sold as “wives” in black-market transactions.
** Merchandise stolen from luggage at airports is fenced through local retailers, along with many bootlegged products, such as fake designer clothing and electronics.
And that’s just what has gone on in Houston in the past ten years. You think Tony Soprano was ruthless? Next to these guys, he’s a pansy, and a fictitious one at that.