The word Mafia for most Americans conjures up Italian imagery, visions out of The Godfather films, and the belief that a Mafia represents a criminal gang organized within a “family” hierarchy whose membership criteria includes ethnic-specificity. These stereotypical images that are reinforced by the media and widely believed by Americans are not the reality of most International or émigré organized crime rings. In James O. Finckenauer’s and Elin J. Waring’s Russian Mafia In America: Immigration, Culture, And Crime, the authors break some of these stereotypes in their analysis of the Russian “Mafia”, both abroad and in the United States. In breaking many of these stereotypes, the authors convey that most Russian crime bands in the U.S. are not ethnic Russians, but instead the majority are from Armenian, Georgian, Ukrainian, Jewish and Belorussian. They also explain how the Russian Mafia is actually not at all organized like its Italian counterpart, La Cosa Nostra. Instead, criminal activity among Russian émigrés is seldom organized and doesn’t match the criteria equating to our traditional sense of the word Mafia:
Russian Mafia is actually a misnomer and perhaps even an oxymoron. The Russian Mafia is neither Russian nor mafia. There is no Mafia—Russian or otherwise—in the United States, nor is there on in Russia itself.
The idea of an American-based Russian Mafia is largely a creation of the media and law enforcement.
Although individual crimes that are highly organize are committed by Russians, there is no Russian organized crime as such in the United States.
The breakup of the former Soviet Union encouraged many Russians to emigrate to the U.S. In addition, poor socio-economic conditions in many of the former states of the Soviet Union acted as a push-factor fueling immigration. Further, widespread government corruption and a general lack of trust in the Russian government also encouraged emi...