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Omerta is an informal unwritten code of honour. It presupposes silence, allegiance of family members and non cooperation with authorities. Members of organized criminal groups are to settle personal grievances without seeking help from authorities (Edwards & Gill, 2003). They are also supposed to not interfere in each other’s illegal and legal actions.
Omerta is the foundation of organized crime that ranges from terrorism, racketeering, usury, money laundering and gambling. It solidifies the structure of organized crime from the boss to the underboss, counselor, lieutenants, soldiers and agents. Up the hierarchy, members should not interfere with their superiors interests. Money is the driving force of the group, therefore engaging the police in order to ask for protection is punished by death. New members are selected through an initiation ritual that entails introduction of the conduct code .A new members are forced to commit a murder and remain silent. This is a way of ensuring that a new member is not an undercover policeman.
Sicilian-American criminal groups have a code of conduct with characteristic features as explained below; they cannot be informer or sell out the criminal enterprise. Adherence to silence is of utmost importance .The criminal enterprise comprises of a group of people with a defined hierarchy and supportive members. Do not interfere with the interests of others. In a criminal group power is vested in the hands of the boss whose prime interest is to amass a fortune. Being rational while not engaging in battles when one foresees a defeat is a code to be followed (Sa%u0301nchez-Jankowski, 1991). Members should have class measured by level of independence. It is not manly to rely on authorities when dealing with personal issues. Respect for women and elders is to be practiced by all members .Being a shield to other members is a rule. One should always stand by the group, no matter what happens, keeping ones mouth shut while keeping eyes and ears open.
This code of conduct makes criminal groups unique by giving them power to expand. It enables existence of this group not only as a monopolistic organization but rather as an association of people with common interest. With organized crime going global the need to establish sophisticated networks and a uniform code of conduct throughout the world to overcome cultural barriers.