Joel Wing studies them:
Organized crime has seen a steady expansion in Iraq since the 1970s. At first, gangs were organized by the Baath Party to steal from the government. Then Saddam came to depend upon them to break the U.N. sanctions. The U.S. invasion increased the opportunities and incentives to partake in crime, and those have hardly changed up to the present time. The Iraqi government still does not consider this a major issue, and many officials are corrupted themselves either being directly involved in crimes or getting payoffs to look the other way. There’s no other way that such large-scale criminal activity could continue without it. Until the economy improves, the government gains more strength, and there’s a real concerted effort to fight corruption gangs and crime will continue to flourish in Iraq.