RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, is a federal law that targets organized crime and allows for severe penalties to be imposed on those involved in such activities. Enacted in 1970, RICO has been instrumental in dismantling criminal organizations across various industries.

Understanding RICO

RICO is designed to combat a wide range of criminal activities, including bribery, fraud, extortion, money laundering, and drug trafficking. Under RICO, individuals can be prosecuted for participating in an enterprise that engages in a pattern of racketeering activity. This can include a series of criminal acts over a period of time.

Elements of RICO

  • Existence of an enterprise
  • Engagement in a pattern of racketeering activity
  • Connection between the enterprise and the racketeering activity

Penalties under RICO

Violations of RICO can result in severe consequences, including fines, asset forfeiture, and imprisonment. Individuals found guilty of RICO violations can face up to 20 years in prison for each count, along with significant fines.

Case Studies

One of the most famous RICO cases is the prosecution of the Gambino crime family in the 1980s. Through the use of RICO, law enforcement was able to dismantle the powerful mafia organization, leading to numerous convictions and the seizure of illegal assets.


According to the Department of Justice, RICO convictions have been on the rise in recent years, with a significant increase in prosecutions targeting white-collar crimes and cyber offenses.


RICO is a powerful tool in the fight against organized crime, allowing law enforcement to hold individuals and organizations accountable for their criminal activities. By understanding the various aspects of RICO, we can work towards a safer and more just society.