We’ve all seen those iconic gangster films. A lot of these movies are some of the most iconic movies of all time. A lot of them glamorize gangsters, gangs and their activities – that may not have been the film’s intention, but many people walk away from those movies wanting to lead that kind of lifestyle. Many of these movies aren’t entirely fictional. They may be loosely based on true events, but in some cases they’re pretty much re-enactments of something that went down in the past. Take those Italian-American gangster epics, movies like The Godfather or Goodfellas. The type of stuff that went on in those movies, in certain parts of world, at one point or another, has actually happened.
A lot of this stuff we see on the big screen does happen. Gang life is very real. And that’s just what the filmmakers want us to see. Gangs get up to some truly abhorrent things, but it’s just a way of life for some. There are gangs all over the world; some are pretty small gangs, street gangs consisting of a few members, coming together to create a bit of mischief. Nothing major. But then there are the larger gangs, gangs that don’t just cause havoc and ruin a few people’s lives, but, in some cases, ruin entire cities, countries. Their criminal activities are on a level so bad, so organized, people, including the authorities, find it hard to touch them, or even to bring them to justice. That’s quite possibly because many gangs have members of the justice system in their back pockets, because they know how to keep up with their gang activities. Here they are, 15 of the most notoriously dangerous gangs around the world.
15 Jamaican Posse
Jamaica may have a reputation as being one of the most beautiful places on the planet, with the sun, sea, and the vibrant atmosphere. But it’s also got another nasty reputation. Tourists – people in general – have to be careful when they visit Jamaica, and can’t venture into certain places. That’s because it has one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world. This is in large part due to the Jamaican Posse, the name given to a coalition of gangs based in Kingston, but now other places in Jamaica and even the world. Those in the gang are seriously powerful people. It’s thought they’re associated with the main political parties in Jamaica, so they hold sway over plenty of goings on around the island. Their code is basically extreme violence. They deal drugs, but are known for their brutal killings of anyone who’s disrespected their code, the gang’s way of life. Gun battles and drive by shootings are common place with the Jamaican Posse, and worryingly, their terror’s also begun to spread, and the gang’s now well represented in countries like the UK, in London.
Nigeria’s another country that has a reputation for being a pretty dangerous, crime-riddled place. That’s a bit of a generalization, but it certainly holds true for certain regions in Nigeria. There’s tons of violence and organized crime in Nigeria, and one group of people, one gang who leads the way in this gangland violence, is the Agberos. Also known as the Area Boys, and consisting of mainly teenagers and young men, the Agberos rule over the streets of the Nigerian capital. They wreak havoc in Lagos, and exert their dominance in all kinds of ways. Their criminal activities vary from blackmailing major corporations, to extorting money from regular people on the street. They’re also into the drugs trade, control informal markets, and basically just rule the streets. Described as petty criminals, the locals who’ve been affected by their presence certainly wouldn’t deem their crimes to be petty.
13 Hells Angels
This notorious motorcycle gang has been in operation for a hell of a long time, since the 1940s in fact. Over the years, it’s grown in membership, and so have its operations. The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club operate primarily in the U.S. and in Canada, and are one of the largest organized crime syndicates in that part of the world, one of the so-called big four bike gangs. "Angels Forever, Forever Angels" – that’s their motto, and no they didn’t get it from that Lana Del Rey song! The group consists of primarily white men – that stereotypical image of a heavily tattooed and bearded biker riding a Harley holds true, for this gang anyway.
The gang likes to pass itself off as a brotherhood, but it’s far more than just that. Members say it’s nothing more than a social group, a group of bikers who love riding and get together for social outings – yeah right. It’s a hardcore biker gang with wide-ranging criminal activities. Drug dealing, prostitution, extortion, kidnapping – they’ve done it all, and they are certainly people you don’t want to mess with. Again, the group say that only certain members of Hells Angels are involved in such activities and it’s nothing to do with Hells Angels, but there’s been enough evidence to say otherwise.
Los Angeles is the home of the Bloods, a gang that’s received worldwide attention for its violence and criminal activities, and also its beef with gang rivals the Crips. This gang consists primarily of African Americans, and it has many sub-groups, a lot of which are now in operation across the U.S. It was set up primarily as a gang to rival the Crips, and this rivalry still continues, but over the years, their violence has gotten worse, and they’ve branched out to be involved in a host of different criminal activities.
They recruit members young, often in poor areas, making kids feel like they’re part of something bigger. They’re then trained, and partake in the gang’s criminal activities. Murder, drug dealing, prostitution – they’re involved in it all, and are just ruthless to the core. Their reason for committing such crimes is that they want to take control of America’s streets. They’ve certainly done that through violence and creating terror amongst communities.
When it comes to street gangs in the U.S. the Crips are deemed to be one of the largest. It’s thought that they have over 50,000 members, people who partake in robberies, murders, drug dealing, and a host of other despicable acts.
They’re also known for their long and bitter rivalry with the Bloods. The Bloods set up on the streets of LA in order to bring the Crips down a peg or two. It hasn’t really worked; they’ve just recruited more members, and the violence and level of crime has just escalated over the years. The feud between the two gangs has claimed many lives, and is one of the biggest gang feuds in history, and it doesn’t look like rival members are going to be hugging and kissing any time soon. Police have been trying to crack down on their operations, but it hasn’t really made an impact. Certain places in LA are so dangerous due to the Crips and gangland warfare, they are places that even the police won’t dare to venture.
Dawood Company, abbreviated to D-Company, is one of the biggest organized crime syndicates in India and its surrounding countries, but its criminal activities take place on a worldwide scale. It’s headed by the terrorist and crime boss, Dawood Ibrahim. The crime lord is known to have carried out many heinous acts, but has managed to evade capture. He’s currently on the run, and has been for many, many years, since the 1980s in fact. His activities have led to him becoming one of the most wanted men in the world, and it’s thought that he’s either residing in Pakistan, or in the UAE.
Why is he wanted? He, through his company, is responsible for many murders, extortion, targeted killings, drug trafficking, and more. His list of crimes is never-ending. But terrorism is when the U.S. started to get involved in the effort to hunt him down. He’s been known to have organized terrorist plots in India, and was thought to have had close links with former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. A lot of people would put him on the same level as the late bin Laden, and who knows what more he could do if he continues to evade capture.
9 Aryan Brotherhood
The Aryan Brotherhood is a white supremacist group, and is one of the most feared gangs on the planet. They stick up for what they believe in, white supremacy, and if anyone goes against their views, or pisses them off in some way, they’re finished.
They’re known as a prison gang, because a lot of their members are inside. But that doesn’t mean their criminal activities stop. Their gang members are some of the most feared inmates, and in certain places, they actually run things. On the outside, the organized crime syndicate gets up to all sorts of things. Pretty much every disgusting criminal act you can think off, they’re involved in in some capacity, including committing murders, which they do at an alarming rate, inside and outside of prison. As extremist groups go, the Aryan Brotherhood are deemed to be the most violent, the most ruthless of them all. They’re neo-Nazis, satanic individuals, all about white power, and a truly horrific bunch of people.
This gang consider themselves one big family, a family that have no ties to anyone else, that have no relationships with anyone outside the gang. Members have to cut all ties with family and friends, and be completely dedicated to the Yakuza gang and what it stands for. They are a Japanese gang, and are known for their strict code of conduct. Abide by the code, and there’ll be no problems. Sway from code, the gang’s ethos, and you’ll get what’s coming to you, and that’s normally extreme violence. The gang have achieved notoriety for cutting of fingers, and cutting off their own, an act of apology. It’s actually a pretty common practice in the gang, so it’s often not too hard to spot a Yakuza gang member. Today there are many different sects of the Yakuza crime syndicate, and each carry out different criminal activities, while forbidding others, and again, these rules must be stringently followed.
This crime group is mainly based in China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, but its membership has spread to parts of the world that have a large Chinese population. In the U.S. for example, the Triads are becoming more prevalent. The name, Triads, refers to a conglomerate of gangs, gangs that have different branches. They’re highly organized, very secretive, and each sect is like a gang in itself. They all have their own practices and their own criminal activities.
Generally speaking, the Triads are involved in fraud, extortion, smuggling counterfeit goods, drug trafficking, and prostitution. In addition to these criminal activities, the triads have also gained worldwide attention because of their often bloody rituals. There’s an initiation ceremony which involves a sacrifice, then the declaration of 36 oaths. Don’t adhere to those oaths, and as a gang member, you’re in serious trouble. Don’t abide by the rules of the family, and you’re out, finished. Loyalty is everything to the Triads.
6 Primeiro Comando da Capital
This gang came into formation pretty recently, relatively speaking. They were formed in the early 90s, but the new gang on the block have certainly made a name for themselves already as one of the fiercest gangs in the world. They’re known in Brazil for their violence. They’re involved in all the usual gang activities, but are also renowned for their daring criminal operations. In São Paulo, their main area of operation, they’ve killed police officers, are regularly involved in shootouts, and have orchestrated prison escapes. It’s thought that just under half of the gang are behind bars, and so escape attempts with help from the outside occur pretty regularly.
Those not in jail reside in the favelas. Some of these favelas are areas even the law enforcement don't dare to venture. They instil fear, well, in pretty much everyone, even more so after the events of May 2006. The gang basically took the entire city of São Paulo hostage for a week, a week during which Brazil saw carnage like it never had before; police officers were killed, government buildings were burned to the ground, and all this death and destruction was due to one gang, Primeiro Comando da Capital.
5 18th Street Gang
The Bloods and the Crips have gained worldwide attention because of their bitter feud and the way they rule the streets of LA. But there’s also another gang that spreads terror into the people of LA, a gang that may not be as infamous, but is certainly as notorious as the Bloods and Crips when it comes to their violence and criminal activities. The gang consists of mainly Mexican-Americans, and its criminal activities are widespread. They’re involved in all the usual, drug trafficking and other street level stuff, but then have bigger operations too, including kidnappings, human trafficking, illegal immigration, and so on.
They’ve gained a reputation for being an extremely organized and sophisticated outfit. They’ve also gained a reputation for their extreme acts of violence. Police have said that at least one person every day in LA is assaulted or ends up in serious strife at the hands of an 18th Street Gang member. They also kill, seemingly for fun, and the deaths they’ve caused are estimate to be higher than the kill counts of their two rival LA gangs.
4 Dub C
Dub C, also known as Wah Ching, is a Chinese American secret society, but there’s nothing secret about some of their operations, including the vast amounts of money they’ve made over the years. These gang members are in no way petty criminals. Drug trafficking, extortion, prostitution, illegal gambling, loan sharking, fraud, counterfeit, software piracy and murders, they’re involved in it all, but not at street level – they’re higher up the crime chain than that.
While conducting these activities, they’ll think nothing of resorting to extreme violence; it’s what they’re known for, and if things don’t turn out to their liking, they’ll cancel you and your loved ones. That’s the way Dub C operate, and it’s led to them controlling most of the criminal vices in certain places in the U.S. where there are large Asian populations. Dub C also have a number of allies, including the Bloods, and are one of the most well-connected gangs in the criminal world.
3 The Mungiki
The ethnic organization the Mungiki is actually a type of religion, one that’s been banned in Kenya. It’s a religion, a group, a gang – call it what you will – that practices ancient African traditions. That’s all well and good, keeping old customs alive and all of that, except that the traditions that they choose to follow, choose to practice, are truly barbaric. Things like bathing in blood, female genital mutilation, beheading people and putting their heads proudly on sticks – they’re all things that the Mungiki practice. Understandably, they spread fear into the hearts of anyone who crosses them who doesn’t adhere to their demands. Aside from these heinous acts, they’re also involved in a host of criminal activities. They’re also a pretty organized outfit – they had to be since the Mungiki was banned. Due to their activities and level of sophistication, they’re deemed to be the Kenyan Yakuzas, which just shows how they’re regarded by the rest of the world.
2 Los Zetas
This Mexican gang is one of the newest gangs around. It was formed in 1999, but has since risen to become one of the biggest gangs on the planet. They’re not just one of the biggest, they’re also one of the most sophisticated. I’ve said that about quite a few of the gangs on this list, and that still holds true, but Los Zetas run their operations on another level of sophistication. This is what the U.S. government has said on the Mexican crime syndicate: “Los Zetas are the most technologically advanced, sophisticated, efficient, violent, ruthless, and dangerous cartel operating in Mexico."
They’re extremely violent and brutal in their methods. They torture, kill, and behead just to make a point. The point certainly gets through. But lately, they’ve become more technologically advanced, which they use to run their highly sophisticated operations, which includes political corruption, orchestrating prison breaks, among many other criminal activities.
1 The Sicilian Mafia
Originating from the Island of Sicily, the Sicilian Mafia are one of the most notorious gangs out there. Although having said that, they probably wouldn’t take too kindly to being called a gang. The way they run things is like any other criminal organization. They’re a massive family, and leave no stone unturned when it comes to conducting criminal activities. They do what they’ve got to do, and if that means killing or paying people off, then so be it. Their level of sophistication is so high, that a lot of the members are untouchable, and if they do get caught, it’s often impossible to pin anything back on them, as the web they’ve created just can’t be untangled. The Mafia’s now branched out of Sicily, is active in many different countries, and is involved in a number of different criminal activities. However, they’re still one of the most sophisticated, organized, and therefore dangerous crime syndicates around the world.