RICO stands for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (18 U.S.C. § 1961), a law that increases the severity of penalties for crimes performed in conjunction with organized crime. The law states that any person or group who commits any two out of a list of 35 crimes (known as racketeering activity in the U.S. Code) within a decade and can be determined to have committed them with similar results or similar intentions can be charged with racketeering.
The maximum penalties for racketeering include a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 20 years in prison in addition to the forfeiture of all business interests and gains gleaned from the criminal activity. In addition, the case can be re-tried in civil court; plaintiffs are allowed to sue for triple damages. The law covers crimes such as bribery, extortion, money laundering, counterfeiting, gambling, murder, arson, robbery, kidnapping, harboring certain illegal aliens, obstruction of justice, slavery and others.