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The RICO Act and drug trafficking cases

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2024 | Drug Trafficking |

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act is a federal law initially enacted to combat the Mafia. It provides extended penalties for illegal activities that are part of an ongoing criminal organization.

Since its enactment, it has been used to prosecute a variety of organized crime activities, including drug trafficking.

Understanding the RICO Act

One of the primary goals of the RICO Act was to prosecute not only the individuals who committed the crime but also those who own or manage enterprises that engage in criminal conduct. It specifically targeted the mob bosses who ordered the crimes to be committed.

Drug trafficking is one of the offenses specifically listed under the RICO Act’s definition of racketeering activity. This means that, in addition to facing charges for drug trafficking itself, individuals involved in a drug trafficking operation can potentially face RICO charges if they are part of an organization that is engaged in illegal activities.

Drug trafficking under the RICO Act has major implications for anyone convicted of the offense, including imprisonment and forfeiture of any money gained from the crime. Furthermore, the RICO Act allows for civil lawsuits to be brought against individuals and organizations involved in racketeering activity. Therefore, in addition to criminal penalties, a person could face significant financial consequences.

However, RICO violations are not always easy to prove, and there are several avenues of defense, including:

  • There is no criminal organization, or if there is, the accused wasn’t a part of it.
  • Disputing there is a pattern of racketeering activity and the act the accused is charged with was an isolated incident.
  • The accused was unaware of the organization’s illegal activities.

Given the seriousness of RICO cases and the severity of potential penalties, it is crucial to work with someone who can help you review your options. Creating a solid defense strategy offers the best chance for a positive outcome.


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