The main aim of this project was to evaluate empirically whether Albanian organized crime groups are able to reproduce their territorial control in a foreign country, or whether these groups start a life of crime after their arrival in the new territories.
Two main data sources were employed. (1) For the court cases dataset court documents, including indictments and court transcripts, related to select organized crime cases (84 court documents on 29 groups, 254 offenders) were used; (2) For the Albanian diaspora dataset in-depth, face-to-face interviews with 9 ethnic Albanian offenders currently serving prison sentences in U.S. Federal Prisons for organized crime related activities, and with 79 adult ethnic Albanian immigrants in New York, including common people, undocumented migrants, offenders, and people with good knowledge of Albanian organized crime modus operandi were utilized.
Sampling for these data were conducted in five phases. Data for the Albanian court cases dataset were collected in phase one, and data for the Albanian diaspora dataset were collected during phase three.
In phase one researchers identified major ethnic Albanian organized crime groups that had been operating in the Northeastern part of the United States between 1975 and 2013, and who had served or were currently serving sentences in the U.S. Federal Prisons for organized crime related activities. Using research engines and contact with attorneys the researchers collected 84 court documents and identified a total of 29 criminal groups composed mainly of ethnic Albanian offenders (foreign born and first generation) who were prosecuted for various organized crime activities committed in and around New York area in the period between 1975 and 2013. Based on these documents, a comprehensive database with 254 offenders' profiles was developed. Court transcripts and other similar documents were used as qualitative data to provide information on contextual understandings of group-level and individual activities, mobility, culture, and decision-making.
Phase two gathered data for the interview with experts dataset, which is not included in the current release. Researchers conducted eight in-depth interviews with law enforcement agents (active and retired), asylum officers, and private security experts working in New York or New Jersey. On average, the discussions took about 90 minutes, and interviewees provided answers to guiding questions such as: (1) the origins of Albanian organized crime in New York; (2) structure, culture, activities, and inter-ethnic cooperation; (3) violence, corruption and political infiltration; (4) threat posed by these groups.
Data for the Albanian diaspora dataset and for the ethnographic study were gathered in phase three, which involved interviews and filed observations. The first round of "Diaspora interviews" was conducted with 9 ethnic Albanian immigrants that had been living in New York or New Jersey for at least several years. Researchers utilized purposive and snowball sampling to identify these experts who had excellent knowledge of the Albanian diaspora in New York. These interviews lasted 90-120 minutes. After the first round of interviews, an additional 79 interviews were conducted with ethnic Albanian immigrants in New York, including common people, undocumented migrants, offenders, and people with good knowledge of Albanian organized crime modus operandi. The self-reported criteria for recruitment were: (1) age 18 or over; (2) of ethnic Albanian origin (foreign-born or 1st/2nd generation); and (3) living in NYC area for at least 1 year. The interviews took 45 to 60 minutes. These 79 research subjects were identified with the help of cultural advisors, through snowball sampling, as well through direct observations. During 2013 and 2014 researchers visited neighborhoods identified by the NYPD as "areas of concern", neighborhoods with high residential concentrations of ethnic Albanian individuals, as well as some Albanian neighborhoods in New Jersey, and conducted an ethnographic study to locate and describe the physical spaces where the target population (people from the ethnic Albanian diaspora) congregate and socialize. Through cultural contacts and observations of the areas, researchers identified shops, restaurants, and cafés in these areas, spoke to owners of local businesses, and tried to recruit suitable research subjects. Researchers utilized snowball and respondent driven (RDS) recruitment methods. The members of the study team recruited 4-5 seeds at each site to begin the RDS chains. These seeds were identified either via referrals from the experts/cultural advisors or were recruited directly by the researchers at the various venues identified though observation of sites.
In phase four, data for the cultural advisors data was collected. In this phase researchers identified four advisors that were able to assist with data collection throughout the different stages of the project. The advisors were able to put the PI in contact with knowledgeable experts and Albanian immigrants (snowball) and to provide the PI with useful documents, advice and feedback. The cultural advisors were asked to suggest potential names of useful contact points (mainly Albanian immigrants, including offenders) for potential interviews. The advisors were not informed as to who from their list was interviewed.
In the fifth and final phase, researchers gathered data for the second wave of the diaspora data. Researchers conducted interviews with offenders with the goal of having 20 to 30 in-depth interviews with ethnic Albanian immigrants who have very good knowledge of the organized crime situation in New York City area, either because of their direct participation in criminal activities or because of direct contact with Albanian criminal organizations. A total of 30 ethnic Albanians with direct knowledge of organized crime (mainly offenders), outside and inside of prison were interviewed. Snowball sampling ("chain referral") as well as purposive sampling was used. Most individuals were interviewed outside of prison setting (21) and these interviews were part of the second wave of diaspora interviews. The subjects were part of the Albanian diaspora and were ether referred to us, or were part of the RSD chain. Researchers also approached about twenty organized crime figures currently serving a prison sentence in the Northeastern part of the U.S that they identified during phase one after analyzing the court documents. The select individuals held either peripheral or central positions in the criminal groups, as determined by law enforcement officials/prosecutors. They were able to conduct 9 in-depth interviews lasting 120-150 minutes with major organized crime figures.
The universe for the court document analysis includes all ethnic Albanian offenders (foreign born and first generation) who were prosecuted for various organized crime activities committed in and around the New York area in the period between 1975 and 2013. The universe for the diaspora analysis includes ethnic Albanian immigrants interviewed between 2013 and 2014 that had been living in New York or New Jersey for at least several years. The diaspora universe also included ethnic Albanian immigrants in New York interviewed during 2013 and 2014, including common people, undocumented migrants, offenders, and people with good knowledge of Albanian organized crime modus operandi who were over age 18, of ethnic Albanian origin, and living in the NYC area for at least one year.
administrative records data,
The diaspora data contains 136 variables (n = 254) pertaining to the prison study questionnaire given to 79 ethnic Albanian immigrants and to 9 ethnic Albanian offenders currently serving a prison sentence. Of these variables, 11 are general demographic information and include age, gender, nationality, immigration status, ethnicity, education, religion, and employment status. There are 14 variables regarding migration, culture, and social exclusion, specifically feelings about whether Albanians are excluded from American society or lack opportunities. An additional 13 variables pertain to views about Albanian traditions, the Kanun laws, and about crime, democracy, and religion. The following 7 variables ask participants about the causes of Albanian organized crime.
The court document dataset includes 33 variables (n = 88) used when evaluating the court documents pertaining to ethnic Albanian organized crime identified by the researchers. Four administrative variables included in this dataset assign each participant a unique id number, specifies the range of years the document pertain to, and sorts the participants into the identified 29 criminal groups. This data includes 6 demographic variables, including age, birthplace, nationality, and ethnicity. The remainder of the variables pertain to the nature of the crime committed, the characteristics of the group such as nature of the crimes committed, violence and weapon use, corruption, ties to other groups, intergroup interactions, influence, and impacts of the group operations on countries or businesses.