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Mafias That Once Rule The World

by Natasha Christopher

Those who know me well are aware of the obsession I have towards crime and drug-filled TV show and movies. Now, hold on, I’m not planning on joining a mafia gang or smuggle drugs ever, I’m just merely fascinated by the determination and perseverance of the top notorious leaders set whatever they can just to earn more cash and how greed eventually becomes their downfall. The highly acclaimed movie of all time, The Godfather is the epitome of how mafia works. 

The Cosa Nostra

The Cosa Nostra

Learning psychology as part of my double degree major in Journalism made me open my eyes to so many perspectives of life as well as how human beings in general just want to be understood and feel belonged to a circle. In many ways, it’s interesting for me to dissect inside the mind of the top leaders and why they would commit a crime as heinous.  Sociologist Alessandra Dino of Palermo University, who has interviewed wives of Cosa Nostra – The Sicilian Mafia – mentioned about how “murder becomes philanthropic because it is somehow related to helping the group they belong to.” This in-depth thought of the interest in the mobster’s mind is now so great that Palermo’s University of Studies will soon offer a masters course in Mafia psychology.  

There is no harm whatsoever in expanding your knowledge to the wide variety of mobsters over the years that have impacted the world. Heck, now the information is so resourceful that some filmmakers produced a biopic about them, and the usage of our best friend, Google to analyze some of our top notorious leaders.


This famous Japanese organized crime syndicate called the Yakuza, also known as gokudō. The Japanese police, and media by request of the police, call them bōryokudan, while the Yakuza call themselves ninkyō dantai. To identify a Yakuza member, their bodies are beautifully adorned with traditional full-body tattoos or irezumi, showing off mythical creatures like demons.

Also, if you notice that they have missing fingers, don’t be surprised because, in the Japanese underworld, finger cutting is their way of apology. While many of their activities are criminal, but their organisation themselves are not. They even have officers registered members and business cards. Although Yakuza have ceased their membership today, there are approximately 39,000 active Yakuza members as of 2016 in Japan.

mungiki 1
Mungiki is a banned ethnic organisation in Kenya, Africa. The name means “A united people” or “multitude” in the Kikuyu language. Regarded as a no mercy gang, you’ll see the members wielding out machetes, kidnap people for ransom and murder people too. Kenya government banned this gang in 2003, but today the gang remains strong due to its secretive nature. The member who wishes to join Mungiki gang are sworn to secrecy and once you’re in, there’s no going back. If you change your mind while you’re part of Mungiki, you’ll need to leave by dying. The most notorious killings done by them is in 2007 where eight people were beheaded.

To accelerate the matter into a horrifying one, gang displayed the heads on poles and their body parts were scattered near the capital, Nairobi. The residents are living in constant fear with the Mungiki.

Dawood Ibrahim
One of the most wanted gangsters and a renowned Mumbai underworld criminal mobster, drug dealer and designated terrorist, Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar heads the Indian organised crime syndicate D-Company. His power is so rich to the point where this 62-year old Indian national is the second wealthiest criminal to have ever lived.

Ibrahim, A.K.A The Don, has been accused of heading an empire which comprises from 16 countries across five continents. He has ties to Al Qaeda and the Indian government blamed him for a series of bombings in Mumbai in 1993. He also allegedly controls 70 per cent of India’s $1 billion piracy market and extorting millions of dollars from Bollywood film producers. However, his main illegal business stems from drug trafficking, terror funding and even forged fake bank notes. Though he ran away from India, recent events trace Dawood is now residing in Pakistan with a secured and luxurious house.

Serbian Mafia

image via clickker news

image via clickker news

Another organized crime that is based in Serbia and is composed of ethic Serbs in the former Yugoslavia and Serbian diaspora. One of the clan from is mafia is the Zemun clan.

In 1992, Serbian police arrested a gang led by one “Peca”. One of the members was Dusan Spasojevic, who would later become the head of the Zemun clan. What made this organisation one of the most powerful syndicates in Southeast Europe between 2000 and 2003 is the fact that its members had military training, wartime experience and connections with the Serbian state secret service. They have the physicality, strong support system and the brilliance. Some of the criminal activities they are known for are arms trafficking, bribery, kidnapping, laundering, murder and so on. Some headline has even suggested that several Siberian bosses killed and ate a recalcitrant member after running him through a meat grinder.  By the early, 2000’s, the Serbian mafia reportedly had more money than the Serbian government itself.

El Chapo

Image via The Daily Beast

Image via The Daily Beast

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera is the head of the world’s most powerful drug trafficking organization, the Sinaloa cartel. US Federal Government says he is “most dangerous and feared man on the planet”. El Chapo was notorious for various reasons, one of it is from his profitable -$3Billion revenue – drug trafficking operation and for his escape from prison not once but twice in Mexico’s top-security prison.

His influence is so strong that Forbes ranked him as one of the most powerful people in the world. He was recaptured by again in the year of 2016, and in his statement, he was supplying more heroin, meth, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world. His story captivated the whole world and including media service online platform, Netflix. In April 2017, Netflix released TV Show of its crime drama, El Chapo, which depicts the rise and eventual downfall of the drug kingpin.  

Hells Angels
hells angels
In full, Hells Angels Motorcycle Club was founded in 1948 and is probably known for riding their Harley Davidson bike and been accused of criminal activity by law enforcement officials. They are founded and financially dependent by the Swedish football club AIK. Members of the gang have been associated with drug trafficking, sex work rings, and extortion.

According to an article by coffee or die magazine, it features a story about what it’s like to be syndicated for Hells Angels. He had to fake a homicide too to make sure his cover is safe. “I asked the homicide detective to make it look like the victim had been beaten with a baseball bat and shot in the head. We photographed it. We took pictures of the crime scene, and we took the bloody mongol vest back to the Hells Angels leadership.” He now remains the first law enforcement officer to successfully infiltrate the cold world of Hells Angels.

Colombian Drug Cartel

The famous smiling mugshot when Pablo Escobar was arrested temporarily

The famous smiling mugshot when Pablo Escobar was arrested temporarily

When you hear Colombia, it’s certainly the first thing that’s on your mind is none other than the world’s wealthiest drug lord and larger-than-life, Pablo Escobar. His life of crime began when he was still a teenager. According to some reports, his first illegal scheme was selling fake diplomas. He then started stealing cars and eventually became an established drug smuggler. By mid-1970- he turned his drug business into an empire named Medellin Cartel. Escobar dominated the cocaine trade with an estimated $420 million a week! His wealth was growing to the point he spends estimated $2,500 a month on rubber bands to hold the stacks of bills together. With the criminal power and wealth, Pablo Escobar became one of the most wanted men in the world.

On Dec 2, 1993, he was shot in the head as he attempts to flee across the rooftops of the barrio Los Olivos and was shot down by the Colombian National Police. Though he may have done a lot of criminal activities, his story is still regarded as one of the most fascinating events that have ever happened. So much so, Pablo Escobar’s story has its mark in the film industry through the TV show, Narcos.

Narcos premiers it’s Season 4 today on Netflix that goes back to its original roots in the rise of the Guadalajara Cartel in 1980, headed by Miguel Felix Gallardo played by Diego Luna and Michael Pena as DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. Gallardo is one of the biggest narcos in Mexican history and the founder of the modern Mexican drug trade.

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