Pirates and Privateers off the Atlantic Coast

Pre-Nineteenth Century: Pirates and Privateers off the Atlantic Coast AND PRIVATEERS OFF THE ATLANTIC COAST

Great age of piracy in the Atlantic coincided with the colonization of the New World between the 15th & 18th centuries 
Targets: theft of gold & silver from Spanish ships, French barrels of wine, English cargoes of cured fish, & valuable Canadian fur pelts 
Early coastal colonies were also raided by pirates 
Pirates (worked independently) vs. Privateers (worked for the sovereign or government)  
Newfoundland: epicentre for early piracy (16th & 17th centuries) 
Nova Scotia: epicentre for privateering (late 18th/early 19th centuries)
Pirate ships required a high level of organization & reflect many modern OC traits
Multiple offenders (large crews & recruitment of sailors) 
Division of labour: captain, officers, navigator, prize master, etc.
Continuity/continuing enterprise 
Serious illegal acts (theft, extortion, kidnapping) 
Use of violence & intimidation 
Rules & regulations 
Ties to elites for protection

Organized crimes included: 
Theft (banks, trains, households, cattle) 
Smuggling (cattle, consumer goods, people, opium) 
Counterfeiting (currency) 
Whiskey trade (e.g., Fort Whoop-Up) 
Gambling & sex trade (esp. during construction of national railways) 
Drug trade (tariffs on opium led to smuggling & illegal trafficking)
Economic crimes included: 
Railroad construction was a magnet for the unscrupulous: stock manipulation, land speculation, appropriation of government funds, price inflation, fraudulent contracts  
Politicians benefited from bribes, gift of stock, & blatant conflict of interest  
1883: price-fixing agreements involving fire insurance companies, cotton manufacturers, & wholesale grocers were uncovered.  
Gold-mining companies involved in stock manipulation, avoidance of royalty payments, smuggling, & “salting” finds 

Late 19th / Early 20th Century: The Genesis of Modern OC

Increased organization of sex trade (“white slave trade”) 
Illegal drug trade caused by criminalization of heroin in 1908 & increased demand due to morphine addicted soldiers returning from WWI 
Gambling & bookmaking now continental (due to wire service) 
Canada part of continental gambling syndicates 
First signs of Italian OC in Canada 
Secret societies 
Black Hand extortion
Unprecedented growth of urban centres in North America 
Massive influx of immigrants
Conditions to promote criminality: poverty, racism/discrimination, corruption, numerous vices to satisfy, existing black markets 
Early gangs were ethnically homogeneous; membership restricted to similar ethnic origin 
What Italian, Jewish, Irish, & Chinese immigrants had in common: 
All came from countries where there was a suspicion, mistrust, & antipathy for the state, police, & law enforcement 
“Ethnic” immigrants were the poorest of the poor 
Lured to North America with promises of riches, & instead were subjected to intense racism & discrimination (no jobs, & relegated to slums)

Prohibition: 1920 to 1933

Single most important impetus for modern-day OC in North America
Launched crime towards an unprecedented level of organization, power, wealth, corruption, violence, & sophistication 
Local neighbourhood gangs blossomed into citywide groups & then into regional organizations, with international ties 
Showed that consensual crimes (supplying the public with outlawed goods & services) was preferable over predatory crimes 
Proved the state cannot outlaw people’s vices (instead they are satisfied through black markets) 
American Prohibition a catalyst to Canadian OC  
Canada was the main supplier of booze to dry America (& helped cement future ties with American OC)

The 1930s to the 1980s: The Ascendance of the Italian Mafia

Period following the repeal of Prohibition witnessed a meteoric expansion of Italian-American OC in North America 
Great Depression: racketeers were the dispensers of dreams & escapism in the form of gambling, drugs, & sex  
Charles (Lucky) Luciano: Different parts of New York City & North America parceled out to different Italian crime families  
Over the next 40 years, mafia families in New York & Michigan would dominate OC in Ontario & Quebec 
Criminal activities: smuggling, heroin trafficking, gambling, bookmaking, extortion, theft, telemarketing fraud, counterfeiting, business & labour racketeering 

The Trade in “Illegal Drugs”

1960s
Psychedelic era” promotes illegal drug sales; drug trafficking surpasses gambling as the biggest money-maker in the criminal underworld 
Most popular drugs: marijuana, LSD, & heroin 
Escalation of the drug trade heralded new lucrative era for criminal entrepreneurs & gangs
1970s & 1980s Colombian Cocaine “Cartels” 
Cocaine becomes drug of choice 
Colombia emerges as global centre for cocaine trafficking 
Medellin & Cali cartels revolutionize drug trafficking:  
Sophisticated, transnational, corporate structure 
Vertical integration of the cocaine business
Fluid network, made up of semi-autonomous cells, each of which handled a particular function within the cartel 
Canada: cocaine makes billions for mafia, outlaw motorcycle gangs, West End Gang, & other domestic wholesalers
Emerging trends in OC in North America 
Proliferation of criminal groups that rival Italian OC, such as Outlaw biker gangs & Chinese criminal networks
Mafia-style criminal groups became transnational 
Criminal groups become more sophisticated in criminal activities & use of technology
Re-emergence of predatory crimes (theft, fraud, racketeering, human trafficking, cyber-crimes) 
Canada emerges as source country for drugs (synthetic & marijuana), mass marketing fraud, counterfeiting

Conclusion: What Does History Tell Us about Canadian Organized Crime

OC in Canada spans more than 500 years & is a part of some of this country’s historical developments & institutions 
OC is not foreign to Canadian culture, but a part of it 
OC is historically resilient because it is rooted in the institutions & cultures of the societies it inhabits 
OC has a symbiotic relationship with Canada & Canadians: 
there is significant demand for outlawed goods & services 
governments create policies that help OC endure              
long-standing social forces—poverty, racism, & inequality— help create the preconditions for (organized) criminality

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