“The World’s Largest Criminal Organizations”

In today’s article, we will look at the largest criminal organizations in the world. These organizations have been present in our society practically since forever. In practically any place and time where we have a large community, there will be a group of people engaged in illegal activities for various benefits. This is partly due to statistics. It is important to remember that every person is different, and in a large enough group, there will always be a number of individuals who will find a “different” way of life. If such people start cooperating in an organized group, it can become very dangerous. Providing exact data on the number of members belonging to a particular organization is, of course, impossible. These are pieces of information that even law enforcement agencies do not know. The following information is estimates based on, among other things, the number of arrests and the geographical reach of a given structure. We have compiled the largest criminal organizations in the world based on the estimated number of members.

10. Hell’s Angels

Number of members: 2,500.

Hell’s Angels, a motorcycle club originating from the United States. This club consists of many smaller structures that are also involved in legal business. The group has “chapters” mainly in the US and Canada. The club’s bylaws exclude any criminal activity. However, according to the FBI, Hell’s Angels are associated with drug trafficking and theft.

9. D Company

Number of members: 5,000.

The name D Company was given by the Indian media to a criminal organization founded by Ibrahim Dawood. Dawood is a Muslim from Bombay, India. D Company is involved in drug trafficking, terrorist activities, and assassinations. It is also suspected of being linked to Al Qaeda. The founder of D Company, Ibrahim Dawood, is the third most wanted person on the FBI’s list.

8. Camorra

Number of members: 7,000.

The beginnings of this Italian criminal organization date back to the 17th century. Initially, it is believed to have been a secret society with a hierarchical structure. It flourished in the 19th century during the overthrow of the monarchy in Italy. Politicians needed support, and thus the members of the Camorra gained immense power. The Camorra’s main activities include extortion, drug trafficking, and extortion.

7. Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)

Number of members: 30,000.

Mara Salvatrucha is an international criminal organization originating from El Salvador. Its main area of operation is drug trafficking between the US and Mexican cartels. Interestingly, MS-13, along with another gang, is the largest “employer” in El Salvador.

6. Yakuza

Number of members: 39,000.

The term Yakuza is a colloquial name for any criminal organization in Japan. Individual Yakuza groups have a hierarchical structure in which higher-ranking members give orders to lower-ranking members. The organization has a very strict internal code, and breaking it leads to severe consequences. The term “hya-ku-sa” means “8, 9, 3” and comes from a card game where these numbers represent the worst possible hand.

5. Ndrangheta

Number of members: 60,000.

It is another criminal organization on our list originating from Italy, specifically from the Calabria region in the north. The organization and the recruitment of new members are based mainly on family ties. Ndrangheta is mainly involved in drug trafficking. In 2013 alone, they made about $60 billion from this activity.

4. Sinaloa Cartel

Number of members: 60,000.

One of the most well-known drug cartels in the world, portrayed in the Netflix series Narcos. The cartel originates from the Sinaloa region in Mexico, known for its massive marijuana and opium plantations. Therefore, it is easy to guess that the Sinaloa Cartel’s main criminal activity is drug trafficking. The main market is the United States. The organization has survived through violence, kidnappings, and above all, corruption among Mexican government officials.

The longtime leader of the Sinaloa Cartel was Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. He escaped from prison three times before finally being extradited to the United States in 2017, where he is currently serving his sentence. The sentence against El Chapo was handed down on July 17, 2019. He was sentenced to life in prison, plus 30 years.

3. Triad

Number of members: 100,000.

Triads are criminal organizations operating in Hong Kong and mainland China. According to historians, Triads originated as secret societies in mainland China and then moved to Hong Kong after the communist revolution. The range of Triads’ activities is very wide, with individual groups involved in drug trafficking, smuggling, human trafficking, prostitution, and intellectual property theft.

2. Cosa Nostra

Number of members: 250,000.

Cosa Nostra, also known as the Italian Mafia, is the third and largest criminal organization on our list, originating from Italy. It was established in the mid-19th century in Sicily. Cosa Nostra grew in strength during a similar period as other criminal organizations in Italy, thanks to political turmoil. With numerous connections to the government and cooperation with other criminal organizations, they were able to develop their operations on a large scale. The main areas of the Mafia’s activities were extortion, gambling, prostitution, and money laundering. When Mussolini came to power, Cosa Nostra bosses moved overseas, to the US and Canada, where they continued their activities.

1. Bratva

Number of members: 300,000.

Bratva, or the Russian Mafia, is estimated to be the largest criminal organization in the world. It is present in the majority of former Soviet Union countries, all over Europe, and in the United States. According to some sources, it is described as the best-organized criminal organization with a quasi-military structure worldwide. Its history dates back to pre-Lenin times when smaller groups were already involved in black market business. Bratva is mainly involved in drug trafficking, human trafficking, prostitution, and arms trafficking.

The above information about the largest criminal organizations in the world is taken from an article: 10 Largest Criminal Organizations to Ever Exist.


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