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The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act—commonly referred to as the RICO Act or simply RICO—is a federal law that provides for criminal prosecution of racketeering activities as part of an ongoing criminal organization. 18 U.S.C. §1961. RICO is designed to address the infiltration of legitimate business enterprises by organized crime and other illegal ventures—such as laundry services, retail stores, restaurants, nightclubs, and labor unions—to commit gambling, money laundering, loan sharking, or extortion.

Under RICO, leaders of criminal organizations can be held liable for crimes they order others to commit, or assist them in committing, in furtherance of the ongoing criminal organization. Section 1962 sets forth three substantive offenses and makes it a crime to conspire to commit any of the three substantive offenses. Section 1961 provides definitions for terms used in the RICO statute. And section 1963 establishes criminal penalties, including imprisonment, fines, and criminal forfeiture.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal law that targets organized crime by allowing for the prosecution of individuals involved in ongoing criminal enterprises. In Texas, as in all states, federal RICO laws apply and can be enforced by federal law enforcement agencies. RICO enables the prosecution of leaders of criminal organizations for crimes they directed others to commit or assisted in, even if they did not commit the crimes themselves. The law is broad in scope, covering a variety of potential illegal activities, including but not limited to gambling, money laundering, loan sharking, and extortion, which can be conducted through legitimate businesses. Violations of RICO can result in severe penalties, such as imprisonment, fines, and the forfeiture of assets. While RICO is a federal statute, Texas law enforcement can cooperate with federal agencies in the investigation and prosecution of RICO violations.

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The RICO Act and Its Prosecutions: A Dive Into its History and Importance
One of the most powerful tools in the arsenal of organized crime prosecutors is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, more commonly known as the RICO Act or simply RICO.