Prosecuting Criminals.

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Federal prosecutors have available two sets of statutes to dismantle

criminal enterprises that function like businesses. The continuing

criminal enterprise (CCE) statute (21 U.S.C. 848) targets only drug

traffickers who are responsible for long-term and elaborate

conspiracies. The antiracketeering statute (18 U.S.C. 1951-1968), which

includes the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO),

targets offenders working at the top levels of various kinds of criminal


The number of prosecutions based on these statutes is relatively small

compared to those for major categories of Federal offenses such as drug

trafficking. Among persons whose cases were terminated in U.S. district

court in 1990, 996 were prosecuted using the racketeering statutes and

128 were prosecuted using CCE, while 17,135 were prosecuted for drug

trafficking using other statutes.

Conviction under most criminal enterprise statutes requires proof of

both a predicate offense and--what is generally more difficult--a

pattern or set of circumstances that connect the predicate offenses.

The importance of the criminal enterprise statutes comes from their

potential to break up associations of highly placed drug traffickers or

to incapacitate criminals who direct complex illegal activities. By

using these statutes, a U.S. attorney can obtain convictions that carry

longer sentences on average than convictions for the predicate offenses

alone. Additionally, based on overlapping jurisdiction with the States,

Federal prosecutors may agree to use the statutes to prosecute crimes

such as murder and robbery that would otherwise be State offenses only.

The main findings from an analysis of matters concluded by U.S.

attorneys and cases terminated in U.S. district courts, from mid-1987 to

mid-1990, include the following:

*In 1990, 2% of Federal offenders were convicted of racketeering or CCE


*CCE offenders constituted less than 1% of Federal drug offenders,

representing a uniquely defined set of the most serious drug

traffickers. Characteristics of these offenders,