Date of Award

Summer 8-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


International Crime and Justice



First Advisor

Yulia Zabyelina

Second Reader

Serguei Cheloukhine

Third Advisor

Jana Arsovska


This thesis conducts a systematic analysis of open source data that discusses ideational factors of resilience in criminal organizations. It does this by looking at the role of spirituality – referred to as an individual’s moral or ethical codes influenced by cultural, ethnic, and religious values – and its effects on an organization’s durability, impenetrability, and adaptability. To understand spirituality as a factor of resilience in criminal organizations, it is delineated into four Dimensions of Spiritual Influence (DoSI). They are (1) trust, (2) spiritual neutralization, (3) strategic arenas, and (4) the logistical use of spiritual institutions. In order to analyze the role of spirituality as an element of resilience within criminal organizations, this thesis employs a systematic analysis of open source data and literature in order to collect, review, and analyze the existing secondary literature. These themes are applied to four criminal organizations in order to create a better understanding of the extent of spirituality’s influence on these organizations. The criminal organizations analyzed are (1) Jewish organized crime, (2) the Cosa Nostra, (3) the Vory v Zakone, and (4) La Familia Michoacana/Knights Templar. This analysis highlights the potential influence spirituality can have on an organization’s resilience against disruption by law enforcement and rival criminal organizations.



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