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There are a number of transnational crime organizations currently operating throughout the world. Most of the better known groups focus on similar types of crimes: loan sharking, drug smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, cybercrime, etc.
One of the older and more notable groups is from Japan and is called the “Yakuza.” The Yakuza’s precise origin isn’t known for certain, but some estimates consider it to be almost three hundred years old.
The organization has hierarchical structure in which sub-bosses control numerous gangs and report to a primary boss, called a “Kumicho.” Members are expected to forsake their family associations and display total loyalty to the organization. Current gang membership is estimated to be between 60,000 and 100,000.
While some common Yakuza crimes are drug smuggling, protection racketing, and gambling, not all Yakuza gangs participate in the same kinds of criminal activity, and not all Yakuza activities are criminal. In some cases, Yakuza gangs have been known to provide humanitarian disaster relief and to work with police to control some kinds of crime. Some Yakuza groups operate legitimate businesses.
In light of its long history and numerous activities, the group would certainly have to be considered successful. However, membership in the group has decreased in the last several decades to a third or a half of what it once was, probably due to Japanese law enforcement efforts.
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