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FBI Confidential: Organized crime is much more than just the mafia

SALT LAKE CITY — In the latest episode of FBI Confidential, Federal Bureau of Investigation Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Doug Hart joins co-host Debbie Dujanovic to talk about the bureau’s transnational organized crime, or TOC, program.

The mafia may be something you associate with New York City or Chicago or gangster movies of the past, but the reality, Hart says, is that crime families are still operating today, and they indeed operate all over the country, not just in the big cities or on the coasts.

According to Hart, The FBI classifies organized crime as “any criminal group that has a hierarchy or an identifiable structure and is engaged in any ongoing criminal activity.”   

“By that definition, there is organized crime in every state,” says Hart.

A case in point is Enrico Ponzo, a member of the New England La Cosa Nostra family who was living for ten years under the alias of Jay Shaw in small town Marsing, Idaho. To the surprise of neighbors who knew him as maybe not a very good rancher but a nice guy just the same, agents found a cache of weapons in his home hidden in a secret vault, along with false IDs and jewelry.

“There is no profile,” explained Hart. Media outlets portray what a drug dealer or criminal looks like but Hart has learned it can be anyone.

When asked about the primary goal of people involved in organized crime, Hart replies simply, “It’s all about money.”

Agents in the FBI must be prepared to tackle organized crime on multiple fronts as groups are getting more involved in cyber crimes.

It takes a worldwide law enforcement to take down groups of organized criminals. It takes officers and agents within local law enforcement along with state alcohol and firearms commissions, explains Hart.  

You can sign up for the next round of the FBI Citizens’ Academy in Salt Lake City. Applications are due by July 31, 2018. You can apply here, or nominate someone to attend here. Any questions should be directed to madams2@fbi.gov.