In today’s article we will check what are the largest criminal organizations in the world. Such organizations have practically always been present in our reality. In virtually every place and time where we deal with a large community, there will be a group of people focused on illegal activities in order to obtain various benefits. This is dictated, among others, by statistics. You have to remember that everyone is different and in a large enough group there will always be a certain number of people who will find a “different” way of life. If such people start working together in an organized group, it can become very dangerous. Obviously, it is impossible to provide precise data on the number of members that belong to a given organization. This is information that even law enforcement does not know. The following information is an estimation based, among others, on on the number of detentions and the geographic scope of the structure. We have arranged the largest criminal organizations in the world in relation to the estimated number of members.
10. Hell’s Angels
Number of members: 2 500.
Hell’s Angels, or Angels of Hell, is a motorcycle club originating from the United States. This club consists of many smaller structures that also deal with legal business. The group has “branches” mainly in the USA and Canada. The club’s statute excludes any criminal activity. However, according to The FBI’s Angels of Hell are linked to, among others with drug trafficking, and theft.
9. D Company
Number of members: 5 000.
The D Company name was given by the media to an Indian criminal organization founded by Ibrahim Dawood. Dawood is a Muslim from Mumbai, India. The D Company is involved in drug trafficking, terrorism, and homicide. It is also suspected to be associated with Al Qaeda. D Company founder Ibrahim Dawood is the third most wanted person on the FBI’s list.
Number of members: 7 000
The origins of this Italian criminal organization date back to the 17th century. Initially, it is suspected that it was a secret society with a hierarchical structure. It especially flourished in the 19th century during the overthrow of the monarchy in Italy. Politicians needed support at that time, and the Camorra members gained tremendous power. The main activities of the Camorra are racketeering, 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. An interesting fact is that the MS-13 organization along with another gang are the largest “employer” in El Salvador.
Number of members: 39 000
The term Yakuza is the colloquial name for every criminal organization in Japan. The various Yakuza groups have a hierarchical structure in which higher-level members issue orders to lower-ranking members. The organization has a very strict internal code, violation of which is subject to very 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.
Number of members: 60 000
It is another criminal organization on our list that originates from Italy, and more specifically from Calabria in the north. The organization and recruitment of new members are mainly based on family ties. Ndrangheta is mainly involved in drug trafficking. In 2013, she earned about $ 60 billion on this activity.
4. Kartel Sinaloa
Number of members: 60 000
One of the most famous drug cartels in the world. Narcos series by Netflix. The cartel originates in the Sinaloa region of Mexico. The region is famous for its huge marijuana and opium plantations. Therefore, it is easy to guess that drug trafficking is the main area of the Sinaloa cartel’s criminal activity. The main outlet is the United States. The organization survived thanks to violence, kidnappings and, above all, corruption among Mexican government officials.
The long-time head of the Sinaloa cartel was Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Boss escaped from prison three times until he was finally taken to the United States in 2017, where he is serving his sentence. The judgment against El Chapo was handed down only on July 17, 2019. He was sentenced to life in prison, plus 30 years.
Number of members: 100 000
Triads are criminal organizations operating in Hong Kong and mainland China. According to historians, the triads formed in the form of secret societies in mainland China and then moved to Hong Kong after the communist revolution. The scope of operation of the triads is very wide, individual groups deal with drug trafficking, smuggling, human trafficking, prostitution as well as intellectual property theft.
2. Cosa Nostra
Number of members: 250 000
Cosa Nostra, the Italian mafia, the third and largest criminal organization on our list, originating from Italy. It was established in the mid-nineteenth century in Sicily. Cosa Nostra grew in strength in a similar period to other criminal organizations in Italy thanks to the political turmoil. Thanks to their many ties to the government and cooperation with other criminal organizations, they could easily develop their activities on a large scale. The main area of operation of the mafia was extortion, gambling, prostitution, money laundering. When Mussolini rose to power, the Cosa Nostra bosses moved overseas, to the US and Canada, where they continued their activities.
Number of members: 300 000
Bratva or the Russian mafia. It is estimated to be the world’s largest criminal organization. It is present in most of the former Soviet Union, all of Europe and the United States. According to some sources, it is described as the best organized criminal organization with a quasi-military structure in the world. Its history goes back to pre-Lenin, when smaller groups were already engaged in black market interests. Bratva is mainly involved in drug trafficking, human trafficking, prostitution, and arms trafficking.