(onlinelibrary.wiley.com) Article first published online: 23 AUG 2012
Volume 46, Issue 3, pages 623–649, September 2012
Abstract: This article studies the decline of a long-standing mafia known as thieves-in-law in the post-Soviet republic of Georgia. In 2005 an anti-mafia campaign began which employed laws directly targeting the thieves-in-law. Within a year, all Georgia's thieves-in-law were in prison or had fled the country. This article looks at the success of the policy by investigating how Georgia's volatile socio-economic environment in the 1990s affected the resilience of the thieves-in-law to state attack. The article presents data showing that the chaos of this period impacted on the ability of thieves-in-law to coordinate activities, regulate recruitment, and protect their main collective resource—their elite criminal status. Due to this, the reputation of the thieves-in-law as a mafia drastically declined creating vulnerability. The article adds to the literature on resilience in criminal networks and the study of organized crime in the post-Soviet space.