Multiple affiliations in criminal organizations: analysis of a Spanish sample


This paper analyzes the multiple affiliations of the members of 72 criminal groups investigated in Spain between 1999 and 2010. This objective has been accomplished by studying overlapping members of a sample of 2,384 subjects involved in criminal organizations. Identifying multiple affiliation subjects is supplemented by studying their profile: their function and activity in the group, their hierarchical position, their illicit activities, their conduct and their socio-demographic characteristics. The results, based on police investigations, show that a small percentage of subjects perform overlapping functions in more than one organization which includes three types of subjects: a professional profile which expertise is sought by several organizations, a criminal profile that completely lives off and for criminal activity and performs low-skilled functions in the organizations, and family facilitators that offer essential collaboration in the main tasks of organizations.

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  1. 1.

    Specifically, the Central Operational Unit (UCO in Spanish). This unit forms part of the central structure of the Judicial Police of the Guardia Civil, which has jurisdiction throughout the national territory. The UCO is the unit responsible for investigating and prosecuting the most serious crimes, including organized crime when the scope of operation extends beyond the investigation capabilities of provincial units. The UCO has even deployed small specialized units at a regional level, placing them in the Spanish territories that are more vulnerable to the presence of criminal organizations: the so-called teams against Organized Crime (ECOss in Spanish), with capacity to carry out their own investigations in several provinces, and provide support as and when necessary to the functional units of the Judicial Police of the Guardia Civil.

  2. 2.

    This table of categories is provided by the Spanish Ministry of Education and classifies professional categories into five groups, according to levels of qualification. For this study we have reduced the categories to four, under which the various functions have been classified according to the underlying skills and qualifications required for the task.

  3. 3.

    For this purpose, the start and end date of the police investigation has been used as a reference.

  4. 4.

    In this case, the general sample was calculated by combining the two subsamples of permanent and sporadic members.


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Correspondence to Andrea Gimenez Salinas.

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Salinas, A.G., Regadera, S.F. Multiple affiliations in criminal organizations: analysis of a Spanish sample. Crime Law Soc Change 65, 47–65 (2016).

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  • Organize Crime
  • Illegal Activity
  • Money Laundering
  • Criminal Organization
  • Criminal Group