Deviance and Crime


The definition of crime and deviant behavior correlates directly with societal norms and the set behavioral standards as defined by the laws. This review will provide a summary of an article concerning organized crime and correlate how the criminal activities depicted in the article relate to deviance. The review will help to provide an overview of the dynamic nature of crime and deviance in the organized crime domain. 


Criminal activities and deviance are defined by societal norms and laws. When people engage in activities that defy the set laws or societal norms, they are said to have participated in deliquescent behavior or crime. There is a broad range of deviant behaviors/criminal activities including sexual violence, homicide, drug trafficking, human trafficking, gang-related criminal activities among many others. Notably, organized crimes intertwine with different criminal activities. Throughout the world, organized crime groups, also referred to as cartels, are involved in devastating deviant behaviors. An article written by Hannah Stone reports about the identified leadership structure of a notorious organized crime group in Guatemala known as the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). In the article, Stone (2013) gives a comprehensive overview of the cartel’s leadership, criminal activities, areas of operations and organized crime structure.  


Stone reports that an official investigation into the operation of the MS-13 cartel (Mara Salvatrucha) in Guatemala provided a picture of a highly hierarchical, organized crime structure that was centralized around the leadership of nine criminal leaders who handed down instructions from the prisons (2013). According to the article, Guatemala’s Public Ministry Anti-Extortion Unit named nine leaders of the MS-13 street gang, eight of which were found to operate from a local prison in Santa Rosa (El Boqueron prison). The nine gang leaders were reported to form a centralized committee that jointly gave orders to regional cartel bosses apart from making critical decisions concerning the organized criminal activities of the crime group. According to Stone (2013), the centralized gang committee enforced its decisions by giving orders to cartel bosses who were located in the streets through individuals who went to visit the cartel leaders in prison. The article explains that investigators found the cartel leadership to have ordered about 242 murders in a fourteen-month time frame: between 2010 and 2011. 

The article claims that investigation reports by the Guatemala local authorities depicted the MS-13 organized crime groups as a highly organized, hierarchical structure group, in which every cartel member had a well-defined role. Stone (2013) clarifies that the MS-13 group was found to operate in such a way that no member of the group could communicate with members of rival groups or carry arms without authorization from their centralized leadership. Moreover, all the cartel members were obligated to hand over all their incomes from their daily extortion rackets to the leadership. 


The description of the mS-13 structure and the fact that most of its criminal activities are ordered by a centralized leadership in prisons demonstrate the dynamic structures of deviant behavior/criminal activities in a community that is characterized by high levels of organized crimes. As depicted in the article, there are various ways in which the MS-13 group activities can be defined as deviant. For example, the article claims that the gang members participated in extortion activities. Extortion entails taking someone else’s property forcefully, which is against societal norms and regulation standards. Also, the fact that the cartel’s leadership ordered about 242 killings between 2010 and 2011 entails a high level of deviance because murder is against societal norms and laws. The definition of deviance is dynamic with time because of the constant changes in societal standards and Laws. As suggested in the article, the Guatemala government could engage in truces/deals with the gangs to mitigate the high level of deviance/criminal activities perpetrated by the organized crime groups in Guatemala. 


Stone, H. (2013). Guatemala identifies MS-13 leadership. InSightCrime. Retrieved from