Mafias, cartels, triads and other criminal gangs don't mess around when it comes to doling out punishment against those who have wronged their organizations. Unpaid debts of money and respect are collected with unforgiving aggression.
For the most part, gangs want to collect their money and respect with the least amount of effort possible, without triggering a police investigation in the process. Keeping this in mind, most gangs will punish a minor infraction with a proportional level of violence, reserving the most brutal actions, like assassination, for the worst offenders.
The most ruthless gangs take punishment to the next level, devising creative and brutal methods for extracting their pound of flesh. In addition to securing their revenge, going completely crazy with horror show sessions of macabre violence and death also serves to intimidate rivals and targets, making it easier to extort and control victims.
Normally, gang conflict and activity involves a familiar cycle of violence that's unremarkable to the general public, who have been exposed to modern gang warfare since the prohibition era. However, every now and then, the mafia, triads and cartels capture the attention of the public through acts of vicious cruelty that cannot be ignored.
Trigger warning: Explicit, violent descriptions of physical mutilation follow.
15 The Serbian Cannibal Mafia
After allegedly stealing a significant sum of money from his fellow Serbian mafia members, Milan Jurisic was targeted by Luka Bojovic and Sretko "The Butcher" Kalinic for elimination. Instead of a quick, uneventful demise, The Butcher and his associate hammered Jurisic to death and proceeded to skin, bone and filet his corpse.
The Butcher and his buddy then processed Jurisic through a meat grinder before eating him in a stew, using pieces of the leftover skin to create a horrifying death mask. Incredibly, the victim was actually on the lam at the time due to his conviction for the 2003 assassination of Zoran Djindjic, the Serbian prime minister.
14 Two Dozen Shot at a Canadian Block Party
When a member of the Galloways Boys gang was targeted by the Malvern Crew during a peaceful block party on the east end of Toronto, the resulting melee turned into one of the worst mass shootings in Canadian history.
After the target, Nahom Tsegazab, survived the first volley of bullets, he drew his own heat and started to return fire. When the smoke cleared two people were killed in the crossfire with 23 others injured during the assault. Neither of the dead were affiliated with the shooters.
Miraculously, a 22-month old child narrowly avoided catastrophe when a bullet nicked the baby's head, escaping critical injury.
13 Suburban Execution
In a West London suburb called Uxbridge, on a street called "Millionaire's Row", Redwan El-Ghaidouni was living the good life in a quiet, upscale neighborhood, near a private school that charged $33,000 per year for tuition.
Little did his neighbors know that El-Ghaidouni was actually a convicted drug lord using the suburbs as cover for his involvement in criminal enterprises, going through the same motions as other family men in the neighborhood to hide in plain view.
Despite being called "one of the nicest people you could wish to meet" by neighbors, Redwan was targeted for execution, killed by a hail of bullets fired from a hooded hitman, shocking residents of "Millionaire's Row".
12 Killed by His Own Consiglieri
The mob in Philadelphia was run by Angelo Bruno during the 1970s, earning the nickname "The Gentle Don" due to his preference for diplomacy over violence to solve most conflicts. The Gentle Don likely didn't suspect anything when his own trusted advisor and consigliere, Antonio "Tony Bananas" Caponigro, set up a hit and likely even pulled the trigger to kill The Gentle Don.
Tony Bananas didn't know that the hit wasn't actually sanctioned by the leaders of the New York families. Frank "Funzi" Tieri took advantage of Caponigro's greed to trick him into eliminating Bruno, knowing that Tony Bananas would soon be hunted down by the rest of the mafia.
Bananas was found tortured, stabbed and shot to death with a few hundred dollars worth of twenties stuffed into his orifices as a symbol of his avarice.
11 Triad Boss Publicly Disemboweled
The Wo Shing Wo are considered one of the top triad threats in Hong Kong, keeping their hands full with schemes of drug trafficking, gambling and public transportation racketeering.
On the day of his assassination, a Don of the Wo Shing Wo, Mouse Shing, was hobbling out of a hospital after seeking treatment for a recent attack on his life. Out of the blue, a pair of masked assailants appeared and launched into him with blades, disemboweling the Triad boss to death in front of shocked citizens, one of whom said, "his belly was open and his intestines were just hanging out."
Doctors and nurses wheeled Mouse Shing back into the hospital, but his injuries were too severe to cure.
10 Italian Mafia Executes Young Child
The code of honor among the Mafia and most gangs typically prohibits involving children in business matters, especially when it comes to committing acts of violence towards innocent young kids.
However, this myth hides the fact that the Italian mafia has targeted and killed children in the past, especially when rival clans clash.
One of the most disturbing incidences of barbarity towards children took place in 2014, when rival clans fought over an unpaid drug debt attributed to a three-year-old child's grandfather. The three-year-old's death shocked and disgusted experienced law enforcement, who trace both the victim and the killers to different arms of the Ndrangheta mafia.
9 St. Valentine's Day Massacre
One of the most shocking gangland killings during the prohibition era took place on Valentine's Day in 1929. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre was considered the peak of the gang war between Al Capone and his rivals - in this case, the crew of George "Bugs" Moran.
Assassins aligned with Capone dressed in police uniforms and approached the rival gang, pretending to conduct official arrests, lining up seven members of Moran's crew before shooting them to death.
While Capone was never formally linked to the massacre, popular opinion marks him as the one who ordered the murders. Bugs Moran escaped because he believed that the police were there to arrest him, ducking out quickly before his men were gunned down.
8 Brazilian PCC Slaughters Police
The biggest gang in Brazil is the First Command of the Capital, referred to as the PCC in the Portuguese language. During 2012, the PCC continued their sustained assault on law enforcement in São Paulo, the capital city of Brazil. Around 100 members of São Paulo law enforcement were killed in 2012, an increase of about 50% from the previous year.
One of the most ruthless attack took place at the home of an office worker returning home after her shift at the São Paulo Military Police Northern Command building. As she stepped out of her vehicle with her young daughter, a gang member shot her in the back 10 times.
This killing is one of many that resulted in 500 police troops conducting Operation Saturation, a raid of Paradise City, the largest favela in São Paulo.
7 Teenage Hitman Decapitations
One of the players on the Mexican cartel scene is the Cartel of the South Pacific, reportedly headed by "El Negro", a ruthless cartel boss. One of the youngest members of CPS was El Ponchis, who was arrested at a Cuernavaca airport at the age of fourteen. Police found a pair of mobile phones on the boy, with pictures of torture victims.
After being interviewed, reports surfaced of his claims that he was kidnapped at the age of 11 and forced to work for CPS. He admitted to taking part in contract killings, including a minimum of four separate decapitations.
The young age of this assassin has horrified Mexican citizens, who already deal with a numbing, never-ending stream of cartel violence that plagues many cities and towns.
6 Face Stitched On Football
The Juarez drug cartel of Mexico received a threat that made the entire country take notice when investigators found the corpse of Hugo Hernandez on the roads of Los Mochis, located in the northern region of the Sinaloa state.
His body was cut into seven pieces and scattered around the street. In a plastic bag near the city hall of Los Mochis, a soccer ball was found with Hugo's face crudely stitched on. A note was included as part of the package: "Happy New Year because this will be your last."
Intimidation of rivals through mutilation and torture is common among some Mexican cartels, although no one knows which cartel committed this atrocity.
5 Crate of Severed Heads
Acapulco has seen a rise in violent cartel activity as gangs attempt to gain control over the drug business in one of the biggest tourist destinations in Mexico. Teachers in the region recently went on strike to protest safety and working conditions after cartels began to extort the teachers, threatening to kill them if they didn't pay half of their salary to cartel members.
In September 2011, five bodies without heads were found in Acapulco and five heads without bodies were left in a crate close to a primary school. Inside the container of decomposing heads were several messages threatening the state governor and local drug kingpins.
4 Torsos Hanging Off A Bridge
The border cities along the border between Mexico and the United States have seen some of the most intense violence and conflict between rivals seeking to control export of valuable narcotics for distribution within the lucrative U.S. market.
In 2014, around the border city of Nuevo Laredo, 23 people were killed, with nine of the victims hung from a bridge over an interchange leading to the main highway.
Fourteen of the bodies were found headless in plastic bags near a bridge connecting the U.S. and Mexico. The fourteen severed heads were found close to city hall along with a note that threatened further violence.
3 Highway of Torsos
In May 2012, a military patrol along the northern Mexico city of Monterrey were traveling along a highway that connects the Mexico-U.S. border when they stumbled across 49 bodies. The dead were dumped along the road, some in plastic bags, other simply tossed into the dirt. All the women and men were decapitated with their extremities missing.
Los Zeta cartel took responsibility for the killings by leaving a banner behind that outlined threats against their main rivals, the Gulf cartel and the Sinaloa cartel, particularly the kingpin, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán. The threat was signed by "Z-40" and "El Lazca", two of the leaders of the Zeta cartel.
2 Student Mass Murder
On September 26th, 2014, reports started to surface about a missing group of student teachers around the town of Iguala, feared disappeared by cartels. The attorney-general of Mexico announced on November 7th that the investigation confirmed everyone's worst fears, that the 43 missing students were indeed killed and incinerated at a nearby garbage disposal site.
The barbarity of these gangland killings were so stunning that it caught the full and complete attention of Mexican citizens and mainstream media around the rest of the world, despite a weariness of constant reports of cartel violence.
The tragedy of these missing students even reached Mexico's top office after revelations that municipal police were responsible for giving the students to the gang, calling into question the leadership of President Enrique Peña Nieto.
1 Erasing an Entire Town
In March of 2011, the population of the Mexican town of Allende was decimated by a series of approximately 300 kidnappings undertaken by commandos allegedly working for the Zeta cartel. None of the people taken were seen again and nobody knows the exact details of what took place.
Three years after the disappearances, a ten day investigation between January 26th and February 5th drew approximately 100 government workers from the state of Coahuila. These officials conducted forensics on dozens of homes and businesses while interrogating council members, mayors and public secretaries of 11 towns near the Mexico-U.S. border.
Little to no detail of these killings have been released, suggesting that the cartels have the ability to completely wipe out towns without repercussions.