A drug cartel is any criminal organization with the intention of supplying drug trafficking operations. They range from loosely managed agreements among various drug traffickers to formalized commercial enterprises. The term was applied when the largest trafficking organizations reached an agreement to coordinate the production and distribution of cocaine. Since that agreement was broken up, drug cartels are no longer actually cartels, but the term stuck and it is now popularly used to refer to any criminal narcotics related organization.
The basic structure of a drug cartel is as follows:
Falcons (Spanish: Halcones): Considered as the "eyes and ears" of the streets, the "falcons" are the lowest rank in any drug cartel. They are responsible for supervising and reporting the activities of the police, the military, and rival groups.
Hitmen (Spanish: Sicarios): The armed group within the drug cartel, responsible for carrying out assassinations, kidnappings, thefts, and extortions, operating protection rackets, and defending their plaza (turf) from rival groups and the military.
Lieutenants (Spanish: Tenientes): The second highest position in the drug cartel organization, responsible for supervising the hitmen and falcons within their own territory. They are allowed to carry out low-profile murders without permission from their bosses.
Drug lords (Spanish: Capos): The highest position in any drug cartel, responsible for supervising the entire drug industry, appointing territorial leaders, making alliances, and planning high-profile murders.
There are other operating groups within the drug cartels. For example, the drug producers and suppliers, although not considered in the basic structure, are critical operators of any drug cartel, along with the financiers and money launderers. In addition, the arms suppliers operate in a completely different circle, and are technically not considered part of the cartel's logistics.
Indo-Canadian organized crime Punjabi Mafia जोहल गिरोह (Canada)
Canadian mafia families Rizzuto crime family Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan Cotroni crime family Musitano crime family Papalia crime family Luppino crime family Perri crime family Siderno Group Commisso 'ndrina
Prohibition-era gangs Galveston Downtown Gang Beach Gang The Maceo syndicate Shelton Brothers Gang Sheldon Gang Broadway Mob The Lanzetta Brothers Circus Cafe Gang Wandering Family Remus organization
Hispanic-American Marielitos The Corporation
Surenos or SUR 13 Puerto Rican mafia Agosto organization La ONU Martinez Familia Sangeros Solano organization Negri organization Márquez gambling ring Polanco-Rodriguez organization
Hawaii The Company Leota mob
The Chickens and the Bulls
Italian immigrants to the United States in the early 19th century formed various small-time gangs which gradually evolved into sophisticated crime syndicates which dominated organized crime in America for several decades. Although government crackdowns and a less-tightly knit Italian-American community have largely reduced their power, they remain an active force in the underworld.
Active crime families
The Five Families of New York City Bonanno Indelicato crew The Motion Lounge Crew Colombo Scarpa crew Genovese 116th Street Crew Greenwich Village Crew New Jersey Crew Gambino Ozone Park Boys DeMeo crew Baltimore Crew South Florida faction New Jersey faction The Bergin Crew Cherry Hill Gambinos Lucchese The Jersey Crew The Vario Crew 107th Street gang
Los Angeles crime family
Kansas City crime family
Trafficante crime family
Milwaukee crime family
Defunct mafia families
Genna crime family
Porrello crime family
St. Louis crime family
Rochester Crime Family
Bufalino crime family
Dallas crime family
Denver crime family
San Francisco crime family
San Jose crime family
Seattle crime family
Omaha crime family
New York Camorra
East Harlem Purple Gang
Kid Cann's gang
African-American organized crime
Certain members of the Black Panther Party, particularly the Oakland chapter, also engaged in criminal activities such as drug dealing and extortion.
Oakland, California 69 Mob
Baltimore Williams organization (drug trafficking)
Washington, D.C. Rayful Edmond organization
Chicago Theodore Roe's gambling ring Stokes organization
Atlantic City Aso Posse
Miami Miami Boys
Danny Hogan's gang
Danny Walsh gang
Tom Dennison empire
Nucky Johnson's Organization
- *Not to be confused with theMexican Mafia U.S. prison gang*.
Mexican cartels (also known in Mexico as: La Mafia (the mafia or the mob), La Maña (the skill / the bad manners), Narcotraficantes (Narco-Traffickers), or simply as Narcos) usually refers to several, rival, criminal organizations that are combated by the Mexican government in the Mexican War on Drugs (List sorted by branches and heritage):
Gulf Cartel (The oldest Mexican Criminal syndicate, started as prohibition-era bootlegging gang) Los Zetas (Formerly part of the Gulf cartel, now independent) La Familia Michoacana (Formerly a branch of the Gulf Cartel, then went independent) (Disbanded) Los Caballeros Templarios (Splintered from La Familia Cartel)
Guadalajara Cartel (The first full-fledged Mexican Drug cartel, from which most of the big cartels spawned) (Disbanded in 1989)
Sinaloa Cartel (Spawned from the Guadalajara Cartel) Colima Cartel (Disbanded, former members are now a branch of the Sinaloa Cartel) Sonora Cartel (Disbanded in 1989, its remnants joined the Sinaloa Cartel) Artistas Asesinos (hitman squad) (Disbanded) Gente Nueva (Sinaloa cell in Chihuahua) (Disbanded) Los Ántrax (enforcer squad)
Milenio Cartel (First loyal to the Sinaloa Cartel federation, later independent) (Disbanded) La Resistencia (Splintered from the milenio cartel) (Disbanded) Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Independent remnants of the Milenio cartel)
Beltrán-Leyva Cartel (Formerly part of the Sinaloa Cartel federation, later independent) (Disbanded) Los Negros (Beltran-Leyva enforcement squad) (Disbanded) South Pacific Cartel (branch of the Beltran Leyva Cartel in Morelos) Cártel del Centro (cell of the Beltran-Leyva Cartel in Mexico City) (Disbanded) Cártel Independiente de Acapulco (Splinter from the Beltran-Leyva Cartel) La Barredora (gang) El Comando Del Diablo (gang) (Hitman squad of la Barredora) (Disbanded) La Mano Con Ojos (gang) (small cell of Beltran-Leyva members in the State of Mexico) (Disbanded) La Nueva Administración (Splintered from the Beltran-Leyva Cartel) (Disbanded) La Oficina (gang) (cell of the Beltran-Leyva Cartel in Aguascalientes) (Disbanded) Cártel de la Sierra (cell in Guerrero) Cártel de La Calle (cell in Chiapas) Los Chachos (gang in Tamaulipas) (Disbanded)
Tijuana Cartel (Spawned from the Guadalajara Cartel) Oaxaca Cartel (Was a branch of the disbanded Tijuana Cartel, its regional leader was captured in 2007)
Government officials: Other organizations that have been involved in drug trade or traffic in Mexico (this does not necessarily apply for the whole institution): Mexican officials: Municipal, State, and Federal police forces in Mexico Mexican Armed Forces (Army and Navy) Mexico City International Airport Club Xoloitzcuintles (football) United States officials: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Texas National Guard U.S. Customs and Border Protection United States Immigration and Naturalization Service
Chadee gang (Trinidad & Tobago) (see also Jamaat al Muslimeen)
No Limit Soldiers
Phantom death squad (Guyana)
Zoe Pound (Haitian, see also Tonton Macoute)
Primeiro Comando da Capital
Terceiro Comando Puro
Amigos dos Amigos
Bolivian drug cartels (See also García Meza regime drug trafficking) La Corporación Santa Cruz cartel
Until 2011 Colombia remained the world's largest cocaine producer, however with a strong anti-narcotic strategy in 2012 the country achieved a great decrease in cocaine production and fell to the third position, behind Peru and Bolivia. Cocaine production in Colombia reached an all-time high in 2017.
The current main actors in the drug trade are:
Neo-paramilitary criminal gangs, also called BACRIM Clan del Golfo Oficina de Envigado
Guerrilla movements in Colombia ELN (Weakened by a US-backed counter-insurgency plan) EPL (Partially demobilized)
Historical actors in the drug trade were:
Cali Cartel (dissolved)
Medellín Cartel (dismantled)
North Coast Cartel (dismantled)
Norte del Valle Cartel (dissolved)
Los Rastrojos (dismantled)
The Black Eagles (dismantled) (The Black Eagles was a generic term to describe a series of organizations)
Bloque Meta (dismantled)
Peruvian drug cartels (see also Shining Path and Vladimiro Montesinos) Zevallos organisation
According to the United Nations, there has been an increase of cocaine trafficking through Venezuela since 2002. In 2005 Venezuela severed ties with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), accusing its representatives of spying. Following the departure of the DEA from Venezuela and the expansion of DEA's partnership with Colombia in 2005, Venezuela became more attractive to drug traffickers. Between 2008 and 2012, Venezuela's cocaine seizure ranking among other countries declined, going from being ranked fourth in the world for cocaine seizures in 2008 to sixth in the world in 2012. The cartel groups involved include:
The Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan moved to Venezuela, which became an important hideout as the clan bought hotels and founded various businesses in Caracas and Valencia, as well as an extended ranch in Barinas, near the Colombian border. "Venezuela has its own Cosa Nostra family as if it is Sicilian territory," according to the Italian police. "The structure and hierarchy of the Mafia has been entirely reproduced in Venezuela." The Cuntrera-Caruana clan had direct links with the ruling Commission of the Sicilian Mafia, and are acknowledged by the American Cosa Nostra.
Pasquale, Paolo and Gaspare Cuntrera were expelled from Venezuela in 1992, "almost secretly smuggled out of the country, as if it concerned one of their own drug transports. It was imperative they could not contact people on the outside who could have used their political connections to stop the expulsion." Their expulsion was ordered by a commission of the Venezuelan Senate headed by Senator Cristobal Fernandez Dalo and his money laundering investigator, Thor Halvorssen Hellum. They were arrested in September 1992 at Fiumicino airport (Rome), and in 1996 were sentenced to 13–20 years.
Norte del Valle Cartel : In 2008 the leader of the Colombian Norte del Valle Cartel, Wilber Varela, was found murdered in a hotel in Mérida in Venezuela. In 2010 Venezuela arrested and deported to the United States Jaime Alberto "Beto" Marin, then head of the Norte del Valle Cartel.
The Cartel of the Suns According to Jackson Diehl. Deputy Editorial Page Editor of The Washington Post, the Bolivarian government of Venezuela shelters "one of the world’s biggest drug cartels". There have also been allegations that former president Hugo Chávez and Diosdado Cabello being involved with drug trafficking.
In May 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported from United States officials that drug trafficking in Venezuela increased significantly with Colombian drug traffickers moving from Colombia to Venezuela due to pressure from law enforcement. One United States Department of Justice official described the higher ranks of the Venezuelan government and military as "a criminal organization", with high ranking Venezuelan officials, such as National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, being accused of drug trafficking. Those involved with investigations stated that Venezuelan government defectors and former traffickers had given information to investigators and that details of those involved in government drug trafficking were increasing.
Honduran drug cartels Matta organization Cachiros
Nicaraguan drug cartels (see also Contras) Oscar Danilo Blandón
Korean criminal organizations (see also North Korea's illicit activities) Jongro street gang
Japanese criminal organizations
See also Kenji Doihara's criminal activities
The yakuza of Japan are similar to the Italian mafias in that they originated centuries ago and follow a rigid set of traditions, but have several aspects that make them unique, such as their full-body tattoos and their fairly open place in Japanese society. Many yakuza groups are umbrella organizations, smaller gangs reporting to a larger crime syndicate.
Dojin-kai 道仁会 Kitamura-gumi
Yon-daime Kudo-kai 四代目工藤會
Roku-daime Aizu-Kotetsu-kai 六代目会津小鉄会
Okinawa Kyokuryu-kai 沖縄旭琉会
Kyushu Seido-kai 九州誠道会
Go-daime Kyosei-kai 五代目共政会
San-daime Fukuhaku-kai 三代目福博会
Yon-daime Kyokuryu-kai 四代目旭琉会
San-daime Kyodo-kai 三代目俠道会
Shichi-daime Goda-ikka 七代目合田一家
Ni-daime Azuma-gumi 二代目東組
Yon-daime Asano-gumi 四代目浅野組
Hachi-daime Sakaume-gumi 八代目酒梅組
Yon-daime Kozakura-ikka 四代目小桜一家
Ni-daime Shinwa-kai 二代目親和会
The Triads is a popular name for a number of Chinese criminal secret societies, which have existed in various forms over the centuries (see for example Tiandihui). However, not all Chinese gangs fall into line with these traditional groups, as many non-traditional criminal organizations have formed, both in China and the Chinese diaspora.
Sio Sam Ong (小三王)
Mainland Chinese crime groups (see also Hanlong Group) Chongqing group 重慶組 Defunct Honghuzi gangs Green Gang 青帮
Triads in Cholon Wu Bang
Golden Triangle Burmese drug cartels*(see also Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army)* Khun Sa cartel (see also Mong Tai Army) Red Wa Cartel (see also United Wa State Army and National Democratic Alliance Army) Hawngleuk Militia Han cartel Laotian drug cartels (see also Ouane Rattikone)
Chao pho Red Wa
Filipino crime gangs (See also Abu Sayyaf and New People's Army) Salonga Group Kuratong Baleleng Changco gang Putik gang
Cambodian crime gangs Teng Bunma organization
Preman (See also Pancasila Youth and insurgency in Aceh) Medan gang
Malaysian crime gangs Mamak Gang
Secret societies in Singapore Ang Soon Tong昂很快塘 Ghee Hin Kongsi 酥油軒懸空寺 Hai San 海新 Wah Kee華記 Ah Kong 新加坡黑手黨
Vietnamese Xã Hội Đen
Indian mafia (See also Insurgency in Northeast India) Mumbai D-Company डी कंपनी Rajan gang राजन गिरोह Gawli gang गवली गिरोह Rajan gang Surve gang Mudaliar gang Mastan gang Budesh gang Kalani gang Pathan mafia Lala gang Uttar Pradesh Ansari gang Yadav gang Bangalore Rai gang Ramachandra gang Jayaraj gang Kala Kaccha Gang Chaddi Baniyan Gang
Sri Lankan criminal groups
Pakistani mafia (See also Peoples' Aman Committee, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and ISI involvement with drugs) Chotu gang Lyari Gang
Dacoit gangs Singh gang Veerappan gang Devi gang
Palestinian organized crime P*( See also Abu Nidal Organization)* Doghmush clan
Turkish mafia Crime groups in Turkey (see also Deep state and Yüksekova Gang) Kilic gang Cakici gang Peker gang Yaprak gang Topal organisation Söylemez Gang Kurdish mafia (see also Kurdistan Workers' Party) Baybasin drug organization Cantürk organization Turkish organised crime in Great Britain Arifs Turkish organised crime in Germany Arabaci clan Imac clan (Netherlands)
Iranian organized crime (see also Jundallah and illegal activities of the IRGC) Tahvili crime family
Lebanese mafia (See also Lebanese Civil War militias) Mhallami-Lebanese crime clans Miri-Clan Al-Zein Clan Juomaa drug trafficking organisation (See also Hezbollah) Ibrahim clan
Uzbek mafia (See also Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan) Rakhimov organization
Kyrgyz mafia Erkinbayev group Akmatbayev group Kolbayev group
Although organized crime existed in the Soviet era, the gangs really gained in power and international reach during the transition to capitalism. The term Russian Mafia, 'mafiya' or mob is a blanket (and somewhat inaccurate) term for the various organized crime groups that emerged in this period from the 15 former republics of the USSR and unlike their Italian counterparts does not mean members are necessarily of Russian ethnicity or uphold any ancient criminal traditions, although this is the case for some members.
Brothers' Circle (Existence is debatable)
Russian mafia (See also Lubyanka Criminal Group, Three Whales Corruption Scandal and Sergei Magnitsky) Moscow Izmaylovskaya gang Solntsevskaya bratva New York branch Orekhovskaya gang St Petersburg*(See also Baltik-Eskort)* Tambov Gang Togliatti mafia Uralmash gang Lazovsky gang Vladivostok gang Kurganskaya group Tsapok gang 'Elephants' group Kazan gang
See also Caucasus Emirate
Azeri mafia Janiev organization
French Milieu (See also Service d'Action Civique) Corsican mafia (see also National Liberation Front of Corsica) Unione Corse Brise de Mer gang Les Caïds Des Cités Faïd gang The Barbarians Wigs gang North African Brigade (see also Carlingue) Tractions Avant gang Bande des Trois Canards French gypsy gangs Hornec gang
Spain (see also ETA) Galician mafia Romani clans El Clan De La Paca
Poland (See also Group 13) Pruszków mafia Wołomin mafia
Slovak mafia Hungaro-Slovak mafia
Romani clans Raffael clan Sztojka clan
Mrázek organization Krejčíř organization
The Belgian Milieu 'Hormone mafia' Milieu Liègeois
Sicilian Mafia See also List of Sicilian Mafia clans Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan Sicilian Mafia Commission Inzerillo Mafia clan Mandamenti Corleonesi Greco Mafia clan Motisi Mafia clan
'Ndrangheta See also List of 'ndrine La Provincia Honoured Society (Melbourne) Mammoliti 'ndrina Bellocco 'ndrina Cataldo 'ndrina Commisso 'ndrina Cordì 'ndrina De Stefano 'ndrina Pesce 'ndrina Barbaro 'ndrina Piromalli 'ndrina Serraino 'ndrina Siderno Group
Camorra Secondigliano Alliance Licciardi clan Contini clan Lo Russo clan Mallardo clan Nuova Camorra Organizzata Di Lauro Clan Nuova Famiglia Casalesi clan Fabbrocino clan Giuliano clan Nuvoletta clan Vollaro clan Scissionisti di Secondigliano La Torre clan Alfieri clan Russo clan
Mala del Brenta
Milanese gangs Banda della Comasina Turatello crew
Balkan organized crime gained prominence in the chaos following the communist era, notably the transition to capitalism and the wars in former Yugoslavia.
Albanian mafia Kosovan mafia*(see also Kosovo Liberation Army)* Albania Gang of Çole Gang of Gaxhai Gang of Pusi i Mezinit Lazarat marijuana growers Rudaj Organization (New York City) Gang of Ismail Lika Dobroshi gang (International) Naserligan (Sweden) K-Falangen (Sweden)
Macedonian mafia Frankfurt mafia Bajrush klan Nezim klan'
Romanian mafia Băhăian organisation
London Adams crime family The Richardson Gang The Firm The Syndicate Comer gang Buttmarsh Boys Interwar era mobs Messina Brothers Sabini syndicate Hoxton Gang Elephant and Castle Mob Birmingham Boys
Liverpool Curtis Warren's drug empire Whitney gang
Brighton razor gangs
Ukrainian mafia (See also Ukrainian oligarchs and Oleksandr Muzychko) Donetsk Clan Salem gang Mukacheve cigarette smuggling syndicate
Lithuanian mafia Vilnius Brigade
Estonian mafia/Obtshak Linnuvabriku group
Other organized crime groups based in Europe
Kurdish mafia "Aşiret"(Tribe)
Other parts of the world
Jardine, Matheson & Co.