The use or threat of violence remains an integral part of organised criminal activity in Australia. The frequency of use, and the type of violence used, depends on ethos, the crime market involved and the type of organised crime group.
Organised crime operating in Australia is also likely to use extortion, through threats of violence, as both a primary profit-generating activity—for example, in conjunction with the trafficking of highly profitable illicit commodities such as amphetamine-type stimulants or cocaine—and an enabling activity that can assist in the expansion of market control. This can include the infiltration of legitimate business structures for criminal gain.
Violence is a key arbitrator in the competition between those operating in the same criminal markets. This means that it is likely that the levels of violence occurring among organised crime groups will ebb and flow depending on the number, size and ‘strength’ of the groups in any particular crime market, as well as the size and profitability of any given crime market.
Key reasons for the use of violence by organised crime include:
- ‘warning off’ competitors in criminal markets
- retaliation for previous violent acts
- retaliation for failure to supply goods
- employment of stand-over tactics on behalf of other criminal groups
- internal group discipline
- maintenance of ‘honour’ or status
- extortion to gain money or access to other business activities.