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Jordan Blair Woods

Excerpted from:  Jordan Blair Woods, Systemic Racial Bias and Rico's Application to Criminal Street and Prison Gangs, 17 Michigan Journal of Race and Law 303 (Spring 2012) (257 footnotes omitted).


Since its enactment, RICO has been a controversial law. The federal statute has been used to prosecute a broad range of activities, including government corruption, white-collar crime, violence, and drug crimes. RICO's elements and prohibited activities are included under 18 U.S.C. s 1962. In short, there are three elements that the government must establish in order to prosecute an alleged gang member or gang affiliate under RICO: (1) the defendant must be directly or indirectly employed by or associated with an enterprise; (2) the defendant must have engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity; and (3) the crimes committed by the defendant must have affected interstate or foreign commerce. As the analysis below shows, the government's burden of proof to establish each of these elements is fairly low.