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 enterprise
s. 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 cartel
s, 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 lord
s (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.
*Cape Verdean organized crime
[Kinnear, Karen L (2009) ''Gangs: a reference handbook'', ABC-CLIO, ]
*Nigerian organized crime
[Shanty, Frank & Mishra, Patit (2007) ''Organized crime : from trafficking to terrorism'', ABC-CLIO, ]
**Confraternities in Nigeria
***Black Axe Confraternity
*Moroccan hashish smugglers
**West End Gang
*Indo-Canadian organized crime
ਜੌਹਲ ਗਿਰੋਹ (Canada)
[Schneider, Stephen (2009) ''Iced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada'', John Wiley and Sons, ]
*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
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): The DEA considers (2020) the Cartel of Sinaloa, Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación, Organización Beltrán Leyva, Cartel del Noreste y Los Zetas, Guerreros Unidos, Cártel del Golfo, Cártel de Juárez y La Línea, La Familia Michoacana, Los Rojos the most influential cartels in Mexico.
'' (The oldest Mexican criminal syndicate, started as prohibition-era bootlegging gang)
(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)
'' (The first full-fledged Mexican drug cartel, from which most of the big cartels spawned) (disbanded in 1989)
'' (Spawned from the Guadalajara Cartel)
(Disbanded, former members are now a branch of the Sinaloa Cartel)
(Disbanded in 1989, its remnants joined the Sinaloa Cartel)
(hitman squad) (Disbanded)
(Sinaloa cell in Chihuahua) (Disbanded)
'' (First loyal to the Sinaloa Cartel federation, later independent) (disbanded)
(Splintered from the milenio cartel) (Disbanded)
**Jalisco New Generation Cartel
(Independent remnants of the Milenio cartel)
'' (Formerly part of the Sinaloa Cartel federation, later independent) (disbanded)
(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)
**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)
'' (Spawned from the Guadalajara Cartel)
(Was a branch of the disbanded Tijuana Cartel, its regional leader was captured in 2007)
''(Spawned from the Guadalajara Cartel)
(Juárez Cartel enforcer squad)
(U.S. street gang
(Allied with La Linea)
*Lesser-known small-criminal organizations
(U.S. street gang
**Los Texas (street gang) (disbanded)
*Government officials: Other organizations that have been involved in drug trade or traffic in Mexico (this does not necessarily apply for the whole institution):
***Municipal, state, and federal police forces in Mexico
***Mexican Armed Forces
***Mexico City International Airport
***Club Xoloitzcuintles (football)
**United States officials:
***Federal Bureau of Investigation
[Juan García Ábrego]
***Texas National Guard
***U.S. Customs and Border Protection
***United States Immigration and Naturalization Service
The United States of America is the world's largest consumer of cocaine and other illegal drugs. This is a list of American criminal organizations involved in illegal drug traffic, drug trade and other related crimes in the United States:
*National Crime Syndicate
[Rockaway, Robert A (2000) ''But he was good to his mother: the lives and crimes of Jewish gangsters'', Gefen Publishing House Ltd, ]
[Sifakis, Carl. ''The Mafia Encyclopedia''. New York: Da Capo Press, 2005. ]
**The Greenpoint Crew
**The Flathead gang
[Kavieff, Paul (2008) ''Detroit's Infamous Purple Gang'' Arcadia Publishing, ]
***The Maceo syndicate
**Shelton Brothers Gang
[Angle, Paul M (2991) ''Bloody Williamson: A Chapter in American Lawlessness'', University of Illinois Press, ]
**The Lanzetta Brothers
**Circus Cafe Gang
or SUR 13
**Puerto Rican mafia
***Martinez Familia Sangeros
***Márquez gambling ring
''(See also Rampart scandal
**Philadelphia Greek Mob
[Salinger, Lawrence (2005) ''Encyclopedia of white-collar & corporate crime: A - I, Volume 1'' SAGE, ]
*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
[Capeci, Jerry (2002) ''The complete idiot's guide to the Mafia'', Alpha Books, ]
*The Five Families
of New York City
***The Motion Lounge Crew
***116th Street Crew
***Greenwich Village Crew
***New Jersey Crew
***Ozone Park Boys
***South Florida faction
***New Jersey faction
***The Bergin Crew
***Cherry Hill Gambinos
***The Jersey Crew
***The Vario Crew
***107th Street gang
*Magaddino crime family
*DeCavalcante crime family
*The Chicago Outfit
''(see also Unione Siciliane
**Las Vegas crew
*Philadelphia crime family
*Pittsburgh crime family
*Patriarca crime family
**Angiulo Brothers crew
*Cleveland crime family
*Los Angeles crime family
*Kansas City crime family
*Trafficante crime family
*Milwaukee crime family
*New Orleans crime family
=Defunct mafia families
*Morello crime family
*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
*New York City
**The Bugs and Meyer Mob
**Yiddish Black Hand
**69th Street Gang
**Cohen crime family
(mix between Jewish and Italian members)
*The Purple Gang
=African-American organized crime
*New York City
**Harlem numbers racket
[American Gangster, BET](_blank)
**The Country Boys
**Black Mafia Family
**Young Boys, Inc.
[Chepesiuk, Ron (2007) ''Gangsters of Harlem: the gritty underworld of New York City's most famous neighborhood'', Barricade Books, ]
**Junior Black Mafia
**Williams organization (drug trafficking)
's gambling ring
**North Side Gang
[English, T.J. ''Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster''. New York: HarperCollins, 2005, ]
**James Patrick O'Leary
**John Patrick Looney
**Winter Hill Gang
*Danny Greene's Celtic Club
*Nucky Johnson's Organization
**White Hand Gang
(Trinidad and Tobago
*No Limit Soldiers
*Phantom death squad
, see also Tonton Macoute
*Primeiro Comando da Capital
*Terceiro Comando Puro
*Amigos dos Amigos
*Bolivian drug cartels
''(See also García Meza regime drug trafficking
**Chapare Drug Cartel
**Santa Cruz cartel
Colombia is the largest producer of cocaine on the planet, Cocaine production in Colombia reached an all-time high in 2017.
Active Colombian Drug Cartels.
*The Black Eagles
*Clan del Golfo
*Oficina de Envigado
*National Liberation Army (Colombia)
Historical Colombian Drug Cartels.
*Norte del Valle Cartel
*North Coast Cartel
*United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia
*Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
*Peruvian drug cartels
''(see also Shining Path
and Vladimiro Montesinos
Historically Venezuela has been a path to the United States
for illegal drugs originating in Colombia
, through Central America and Mexico
and Caribbean countries such as Haiti
, the Dominican Republic
, and Puerto Rico
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
World Drug Report 2010 Statistical Annex: Drug seizures
to sixth in the world in 2012.
The cartel groups involved include:
* The Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan
moved to Venezuela,
[Tom Blickman (1997),]
The Rothschilds of the Mafia on Aruba
", ''Transnational Organized Crime'', Vol. 3, No. 2, Summer 1997
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),] [Fonzi, Gaeton.] and in 1996 were sentenced to 13–20 years.
". ''The Pennsylvania Gazette'' (November 1994).
* 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.] [''Venezuelanalysis.com'', 20 September 2010]
* 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.
Venezuela Deports Two Drug Kingpins, Calls US Drug Blacklist "Abusive and Interventionist"
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
*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.
Active yakuza groups
*Roku-daime Yamaguchi-gumi 六代目山口組
[Kaplan, David E. & Dubro, Alec (2003) ''Yakuza: Japan's criminal underworld'', University of California Press, ]
**Yon-daime Yamaken-gumi 四代目山健組
**Ni-daime Kodo-kai 二代目弘道会
**Ni-daime Takumi-gumi 二代目宅見組
**Go-daime Kokusui-kai 五代目國粹会
* Sumiyoshi-kai 住吉会
**Sumiyoshi-ikka Shinwa-kai 住吉一家親和会
***Kansuke Juni-daime 勘助十二代目
*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
Defunct yakuza groups
*Ni-daime Honda-kai 二代目本多会
*San-daime Yamano-kai 三代目山野会
*Kyokuto Sakurai-soke-rengokai 極東桜井總家連合会
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.
*Hong Kong-based Triads
** 14K Group 十四K
** Wo Group 和字頭
*** Wo Shing Wo 和勝和
*** Wo On Lok (Shui Fong) 和安樂(水房)
*** Wo Hop To 和合圖(老和)
** Sun Yee On 新義安(老新)
** Luen Group 聯字頭
** Big Circle Gang 大圈
* Sio Sam Ong (小三王)
* Chinese-American gangs ''(See also Tongs)''
** Wah Ching 華青
** Ping On
** Black Dragons 黑龍
** Jackson Street Boys 積臣街小子
**United Bamboo Gang 竹聯幫
**Four Seas Gang 四海幫
*Mainland Chinese crime groups ''(see also Hanlong Group)''
** Chongqing group 重慶組
*** Green Gang 青帮
*Triads in Cholon
[Booth, Martin (2000) ''The dragon syndicates: the global phenomenon of the Triads'' Basic Books, ]
**Burmese drug cartels''(see also Myanmar Nationalities Democratic Alliance Army)''
***Khun Sa cartel [Chepesiuk, Ron (1999) ''The war on drugs: an international encyclopedia'', ABC-CLIO, ] ''(see also Mong Tai Army)''
***Red Wa Cartel ''(see also United Wa State Army and National Democratic Alliance Army)''
**Laotian drug cartels ''(see also Ouane Rattikone)''
*Filipino crime gangs ''(See also Abu Sayyaf and New People's Army)''
***Waray-Waray gangs [ October 10, 2018]
***Bahala Na Gang
***Sigue Sigue Sputnik
*Cambodian crime gangs
**Teng Bunma organization
*Malaysian crime gangs
* Secret societies in Singapore
**Ang Soon Tong昂很快塘
**Ghee Hin Kongsi 酥油軒懸空寺
**Hai San 海新
** Ah Kong 新加坡黑手黨
Vietnamese Xã Hội Đen
*Đại Cathay's mafia during the 60s
*Năm Cam's mafia of the 90s
*Khánh Trắng's "Đồng Xuân Labor Union", a crime syndicate under the guise of a legal entity
*Dung Hà's gang
*Vũ Xuân Trường's gang: a crime syndicate led by Vũ Xuân Trường, a government official and also a drug lord.
*Indian mafia ''(See also Insurgency in Northeast India)''
***D-Company डी कंपनी
***Chhota Rajan gang राजन गिरोह
***Gawli gang गवली गिरोह
***Bada Rajan 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)''
''(see also Stern Gang)''
**Abergil Crime Family משפחת אברג'יל
**Alperon crime family אלפרון משפחת פשע
**Zeev Rosenstein organization זאב רוזנשטיין הארגון
**Palestinian organized crime ''(See also Abu Nidal Organization)''
**Crime groups in Turkey ''(see also Deep state and Yüksekova Gang)''
**Kurdish mafia ''(see also Kurdistan Workers' Party)''
***Baybaşin drug organization
**Turkish organised crime in Great Britain
**Turkish organised crime in Germany
**İmaç 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
**Juomaa drug trafficking organisation ''(See also Hezbollah)''
** Afghan drug cartels [Glenny, Misha (2009) ''McMafia'', Vintage Books, ] ''(see also Taliban)''
*** Noorzai Organization
*** Khan organization
*** Karzai organization (alleged)
*** Bagcho organization
*Uzbek mafia ''(See also Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan)''
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)''
***Solntsevskaya bratva [Varese, Frederico (2005) ''The Russian mafia: private protection in a new market economy'', Oxford University Press, ]
****New York branch
**St Petersburg'' (See also Baltik-Eskort)''
''See also Caucasus Emirate''
''(See also Mkhedrioni and Forest Brothers)''
**21st Century Association
*Armenian mafia [CBS News/Associated Press - Armenian Organized Crime Grows More Complex](_blank)
*Chechen mafia ''(See also Special Purpose Islamic Regiment and Kadyrovtsy)''
*Fucked For Life
**Bruinsma drug gang
*French Milieu ''(See also Service d'Action Civique)''
[Gayraud, Jean-François (2009) ''Showbiz, people et corruption'', Odile Jacob, ] ''(see also National Liberation Front of Corsica)''
***Brise de Mer gang
**Les Caïds Des Cités
**North African Brigade ''(see also Carlingue)''
**Tractions Avant gang
**Bande des Trois Canards
**French gypsy gangs
*Ireland ''(See also Irish Republican Army)''
[Newton, Michael (2007) ''Gangsters Encyclopedia'', Anova Books, ]
*Spain ''(see also ETA)''
***El Clan De La Paca
*Poland ''(See also Group 13)''
*The Belgian Milieu
**Sicilian Mafia Commission
***''See also List of Sicilian Mafia clans''
***Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan
***Inzerillo Mafia clan
***Greco Mafia clan
***Motisi Mafia clan
**''See also List of 'ndrine''
**Honoured Society (Melbourne)
**De Stefano 'ndrina
*Camorra [Roberto Saviano (2006) ''Gomorrah: Italy's Other Mafia'', Mondadori, .]
***Lo Russo clan
**Di Lauro Clan
**Scissionisti di Secondigliano
**La Torre clan
**De Luca Bossa clan
*Sacra Corona Unita
*Mala del Brenta
*Banda della Magliana
*Sinti Casamonica clan
*Clan Spada di Ostia
**Banda della Comasina
Balkan organized crime gained prominence in the chaos following the communist era, notably the transition to capitalism and the wars in former Yugoslavia.
**Kosovan mafia ''(see also Kosovo Liberation Army)''
***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 [Dagens Nyheter - Ligorna har kopplat greppet om Sverige](_blank) (Sweden)
**Prazina gang [Siegel, Dina (2003) ''Global organized crime: trends and developments'', Springer, ]
*Bulgarian mafia ''(see also Multigroup)''
**Joca Amsterdam gang
**Serb mafia in Scandinavia
*Montenegrin mafia ''(see also allegations of Milo Đukanović's involvement in cigarette smuggling)''
**Adams crime family
**The Richardson Gang [Morton, James ''Gangland Volume 2: The Underworld in Britain and Ireland'', 1995, ]
**Interwar era mobs
***Sabini syndicate [Thomas, Donald (2006) ''Villains' paradise: a history of Britain's underworld'', Pegasus Books, ]
***Elephant and Castle Mob
**Quality Street Gang
**The Gooch Close Gang
**Curtis Warren's drug empire
**Delta Crime Syndicate
*Brighton razor gangs
Other organized crime groups based in Europe
*Kurdish mafia "Aşiret"(Tribe)
[Small, Clive & Gilling, Tom (2010) ''Smack Express: How Organized Crime Got Hooked on Drugs'', Allen & Unwin, ] (1985–1999)
**Freeman gang (defunct)
**Lenny's gang (1960s)
**Mr Sin's gang
**Razor gangs [Writer, Larry (2009) ''Razor: Tilly Devine, Kate Leigh and the Razor Gangs'' Pan Macmillan Australia Pty, ] (1920s)
PBS. 2006. Frontline: Drug Wars.
Worldpress.org. 2006. "Mexico: Drug Cartels a Growing Threat." Worldpress.org.
Category:Illegal drug trade
Category:Organized crime groups
Category:Organized crime terminology
Category:Transnational organized crime