The new ""ethnic crime groups"" that make up organized crime in America today perpetrate ""more violence and a greater...


THE NEW ETHNIC MOBS: The Changing Face of Organized Crime in America

The new ""ethnic crime groups"" that make up organized crime in America today perpetrate ""more violence and a greater societal cost than that wrought by the old Italian-American Mafia,"" writes Kleinknecht, a Newark (N.J.) Star Ledger crime reporter. While he cautions the reader ""not to mistake this work for an argument against immigration,"" Kleinknecht does note that immigrant ""multiethnic armies . . . are behind the epidemic of drugs, guns, and violence that has engulfed our nation's cities."" Today's gangster is Chinese, Cuban, Russian, African-American, Dominican, Jamaican, Haitian, and so on, and he cites examples from each group. He does a marvelously concise job of relating the history of ethnic organized crime, in particular the Italian families that rose to prominence during Prohibition, the turn-of-the-century Jewish gangs of New York City's Lower East Side, and the Irish Plug Uglies and Whyos of the mid-19th century. But his central concern is the rising dominance and sophistication of Chinese, Hispanic, and black gangs. He traces the growth in the 1980s of Chinese and other Asian gangs, such as the Wah Ching and the Joe Boys of San Francisco's Chinatown and the infamous Born to Kill gang of New York, led by David Thai, a Vietnamese refugee. Black gangsters are best exemplified by the notoriously vicious Chambers Brothers of Detroit, who built a crack empire while still in their 20s. Though black gangs are omnipresent at the street level, Kleinknecht notes that in spite of the publicity given the Crips and the Bloods, they have yet to control ""a broad range of criminal activities"" on a nationwide scale. He also looks at Miami's Jos‚ Miguel Battle, a little-known ""gambling kingpin"" worth over $175 million, with alleged ties to the CIA and the Mafia. A cautionary, incisive work that appeals to federal authorities to beware these crime groups' ""increasing propensity for joining forces.

Pub Date: March 25, 1996


Page Count: 320

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996