A drug cartel is any criminal organization with the intention of supplying drug trafficking operations. They range from loosely managed agreements among various drug traffickers to formalized commercial enterprises. The term was applied when the largest trafficking organizations reached an agreement to coordinate the production and distribution of cocaine.[ citation needed ] Since that agreement was broken up[ citation needed ], drug cartels are no longer actually cartels, but the term stuck and it is now popularly used to refer to any criminal narcotics related organization.
The basic structure of a drug cartel is as follows:
There are other operating groups within the drug cartels. For example, the drug producers and suppliers,although not considered in the basic structure, are critical operators of any drug cartel, along with the financiers and money launderers. In addition, the arms suppliers operate in a completely different circle, and are technically not considered part of the cartel's logistics.
Mexican cartels (also known in Mexico as: La Mafia (the mafia or the mob), La Maña (the skill / the bad manners),Narcotraficantes (Narco-Traffickers), or simply as Narcos) usually refers to several, rival, criminal organizations that are combated by the Mexican government in the Mexican War on Drugs (List sorted by branches and heritage):
The United States of America is the world's largest consumer of cocaineand other illegal drugs. This is a list of American criminal organizations involved in illegal drug traffic, drug trade and other related crimes in the United States:
Italian immigrants to the United States in the early 19th century formed various small-time gangs which gradually evolved into sophisticated crime syndicates which dominated organized crime in America for several decades. Although government crackdowns and a less-tightly knit Italian-American community have largely reduced their power, they remain an active force in the underworld.
Certain members of the Black Panther Party, particularly the Oakland chapter, also engaged in criminal activities such as drug dealing and extortion.
Until 2011 Colombia remained the world's largest cocaine producer,however with a strong anti-narcotic strategy in 2012 the country achieved a great decrease in cocaine production and fell to the third position, behind Peru and Bolivia. Cocaine production in Colombia reached an all-time high in 2017.
The current main actors in the drug trade are:
Historical actors in the drug trade were:
Historically Venezuela has been a path to the United States for illegal drugs originating in Colombia, through Central America and Mexico and Caribbean countries such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico.
According to the United Nations, there has been an increase of cocaine trafficking through Venezuela since 2002.In 2005 Venezuela severed ties with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), accusing its representatives of spying. Following the departure of the DEA from Venezuela and the expansion of DEA's partnership with Colombia in 2005, Venezuela became more attractive to drug traffickers. Between 2008 and 2012, Venezuela's cocaine seizure ranking among other countries declined, going from being ranked fourth in the world for cocaine seizures in 2008 to sixth in the world in 2012. The cartel groups involved include:
Pasquale, Paolo and Gaspare Cuntrera were expelled from Venezuela in 1992, "almost secretly smuggled out of the country, as if it concerned one of their own drug transports. It was imperative they could not contact people on the outside who could have used their political connections to stop the expulsion." Their expulsion was ordered by a commission of the Venezuelan Senate headed by Senator Cristobal Fernandez Dalo and his money laundering investigator, Thor Halvorssen Hellum. They were arrested in September 1992 at Fiumicino airport (Rome),and in 1996 were sentenced to 13–20 years.
In May 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported from United States officials that drug trafficking in Venezuela increased significantly with Colombian drug traffickers moving from Colombia to Venezuela due to pressure from law enforcement.One United States Department of Justice official described the higher ranks of the Venezuelan government and military as "a criminal organization", with high ranking Venezuelan officials, such as National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, being accused of drug trafficking. Those involved with investigations stated that Venezuelan government defectors and former traffickers had given information to investigators and that details of those involved in government drug trafficking were increasing.
See also Kenji Doihara's criminal activities
The yakuza of Japan are similar to the Italian mafias in that they originated centuries ago and follow a rigid set of traditions, but have several aspects that make them unique, such as their full-body tattoos and their fairly open place in Japanese society. Many yakuza groups are umbrella organizations, smaller gangs reporting to a larger crime syndicate.
The Triads is a popular name for a number of Chinese criminal secret societies, which have existed in various forms over the centuries (see for example Tiandihui). However, not all Chinese gangs fall into line with these traditional groups, as many non-traditional criminal organizations have formed, both in China and the Chinese diaspora.
Although organized crime existed in the Soviet era, the gangs really gained in power and international reach during the transition to capitalism. The term Russian Mafia, 'mafiya' or mob is a blanket (and somewhat inaccurate) term for the various organized crime groups that emerged in this period from the 15 former republics of the USSR and unlike their Italian counterparts does not mean members are necessarily of Russian ethnicity or uphold any ancient criminal traditions, although this is the case for some members.
See also Caucasus Emirate
Balkan organized crime gained prominence in the chaos following the communist era, notably the transition to capitalism and the wars in former Yugoslavia.
The Tijuana Cartel or Arellano-Félix Organization is a Mexican drug cartel based in Tijuana. The cartel once was described as "one of the biggest and most violent criminal groups in Mexico." However, since the 2006 Sinaloa Cartel incursion in Baja California and the fall of the Arellano-Félix brothers, the Tijuana Cartel has been reduced to a few cells. In 2016, the organization has become known as Cartel Tijuana Nueva Generación and has begun to align itself under the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, along with Beltrán Leyva Organization (BLO) to create an anti-Sinaloa alliance, in which the Jalisco New Generation Cartel heads, are creating a possible powershift in Mexico.
Ismael Zambada García is a Mexican suspected drug lord and leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, an international crime syndicate based in Sinaloa state, Mexico. Before he assumed leadership of the entire cartel, he served as the logistical coordinator for its Zambada-García faction, which has overseen the trafficking of cocaine and heroin into Chicago and other US cities by train, ship, jet, or narco-submarine.
Los Zetas is a Mexican criminal syndicate, regarded as one of the most dangerous of the country's drug cartels. While primarily concerned with drug trafficking, the organization also runs profitable sex trafficking and gun running rackets. The origins of Los Zetas date back to the late 1990s, when commandos of the Mexican Army deserted their ranks and began working as the enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel. In February 2010, Los Zetas broke away and formed their own criminal organization, rivalling the Gulf Cartel.
The Gulf Cartel is a criminal syndicate and drug trafficking organization in Mexico, and perhaps one of the oldest organized crime groups in the country. It is currently based in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, directly across the U.S. border from Brownsville, Texas.
The Juárez Cartel, also known as the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization, is a Mexican drug cartel based in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, across the Mexico—U.S. border from El Paso, Texas. The cartel is one of several drug trafficking organizations that have been known to decapitate their rivals, mutilate their corpses and dump them in public places to instill fear not only into the general public, but also into local law enforcement and their rivals, the Sinaloa Cartel. The Juárez Cartel has an armed wing known as La Línea, a Juarez street gang that usually performs the executions. It also uses the Barrio Azteca gang to attack its enemies.
The Albanian mafia or Albanian organised crime are the general terms used for criminal organisations based in Albania or composed of ethnic Albanians. Albanian organised crime is active in Europe, North America, South America, and various other parts of the world including the Middle East and Asia. The Albanian Mafia participates in a diverse range of criminal enterprises including trafficking in drugs, arms, humans, and human organs. The Albanian criminal scenario is characterised by diversified criminal plans which, in their complexity, show one of the highest criminal capacities in the world. In Albania alone, there are over 15 mafia families that control organised crime.
The Mexican Drug War is the Mexican theater of the global war on drugs, as led by the U.S. federal government, that has resulted in an ongoing asymmetric low-intensity conflict between the Mexican government and various drug trafficking syndicates. When the Mexican military began to intervene in 2006, the government's principal goal was to reduce drug-related violence. The Mexican government has asserted that their primary focus is on dismantling the powerful drug cartels, rather than on preventing drug trafficking and demand, which is left to U.S. functionaries.
Los Negros was a criminal organization that was once the armed wing of the Sinaloa Cartel and after a switch of alliances, became the armed wing of the Sinaloa splinter gang, the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel. In 2010 it went independent and had been contesting the control of the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel. It was then the criminal paramilitary unit of Édgar Valdez Villarreal in Mexico. Valdez was arrested on August 30, 2010 near Mexico City. Los Negros was led by "La Barbie" an American from Laredo, Texas at the time they merged with the Sinaloa Cartel.
Giuseppe Coluccio is an Italian criminal and a member of the 'Ndrangheta, a Mafia-type organisation in Calabria. He was a fugitive since 2005 and included in the list of most wanted fugitives in Italy until his capture on 7 August 2008, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
La Familia Michoacana, La Familia, or LFM is a Mexican drug cartel and a organized crime syndicate based in the Mexican state of Michoacán. Formerly allied to the Gulf Cartel—as part of Los Zetas—it split off in 2006. The cartel was founded by Carlos Rosales Mendoza, a close associate of Osiel Cárdenas. The second leader, Nazario Moreno González, known as El Más Loco, preached his organization's divine right to eliminate enemies. He carried a "bible" of his own sayings and insisted that his army of traffickers and hitmen avoid using the narcotics they produce and sell. Nazario Moreno's partners were José de Jesús Méndez Vargas, Servando Gómez Martínez and Enrique Plancarte Solís, each of whom has a bounty of $2 million for his capture, and were contesting the control of the organization.
Enedina Arellano Félix de Toledo is a Mexican drug lord who leads the criminal organization known as the Tijuana Cartel.
The 2012 Nuevo Laredo massacres were a series of mass murder attacks between the allied Sinaloa Cartel and Gulf Cartel against Los Zetas in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, across the U.S.-Mexico border from Laredo, Texas. The drug-violence in Nuevo Laredo began back in 2003, when the city was controlled by the Gulf Cartel. Most media reports that write about the Mexican Drug War, however, point to 2006 as the start of the drug war. That year is a convenient historical marker because that's when Felipe Calderón took office and carried out an aggressive approach against the cartels. But authors like Ioan Grillo and Sylvia Longmire note that Mexico's drug war actually began at the end of Vicente Fox's administration in 2004, when the first major battle took place in Nuevo Laredo between the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas, who at that time worked as the armed wing of the Gulf Cartel.
El Narco: Inside Mexico's Criminal Insurgency is a non-fiction book of the Mexican Drug War written by Ioan Grillo. In El Narco, Grillo takes a close look at the Mexican drug trade, starting with the term "El Narco", which has come to represent the vast, faceless criminal network of drug traffickers who cast a murderous shadow over Mexico. The book covers the frontline of the Mexican Drug War. It seeks to trace the origins of the illegal drug trade in Mexico, the recent escalation of violence, the human cost of the drug trade and organized crime in the country. The book takes a critical stance on the unsuccessful efforts made by the Mexican government and the United States to confront the violence and its causes.
The Independent Cartel of Guerrero was a criminal gang based in the Mexican resort city of Acapulco, Guerrero and its surrounding territories. The criminal group came into existence during the rapid decentralization of Mexico's drug trafficking organizations as a split-off group of the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel. Originally, the Beltrán Leyva cartel operated in the city, but the group no longer has presence in Acapulco. After the Mexican military gunned down the top boss of the cartel – Arturo Beltrán Leyva – in December 2009, his brother Héctor Beltrán Leyva took control of one of the factions of the cartel and declared war on Edgar Valdez Villarreal, who had long been the right hand of Arturo. Amidst the violence, Valdez Villarreal tried to appoint a successor, but those in Acapulco broke off and formed their own criminal gang: the Independent Cartel of Acapulco. Within weeks, however, the group had splittered too, forming a new and rival group known as La Barredora. Villarreal Valdez was then captured by the Mexican Federal Police in August 2010, but the violence between the groups for the control of Acapulco continued.
La Oficina de Envigado is a drug cartel and criminal organization founded as an enforcement and collections arm of Pablo Escobar's Medellin Cartel. It operates throughout Colombia, but mainly in the cities of Medellín and Envigado. It also controls extortion, gambling, and money laundering businesses within the Valle de Aburra that surrounds Medellin. It positioned itself as the chief mediator and debt collector in drug trafficking disputes and maintained major connections with the paracos and guerillas.
Narcoculture in Mexico is a subculture that has grown as a result of the strong presence of the various drug cartels throughout Mexico. In the same way that other subcultures around the world that are related to crime and drug use, Mexican narco culture has developed its own form of dress, music, literature, film, religious beliefs and practices and language (slang) that has helped it become a part of the mainstream fashion in some areas of the country, mainly among lower-class, uneducated youth. Narco culture is dynamic in that there are various regional differences within Mexico and among those who participate in it.
Abigael González Valencia, commonly referred to by his alias El Cuini, is a Mexican suspected drug lord and former leader of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), a criminal group based in Jalisco. He was also the head of Los Cuinis, an organization allied to the CJNG. Along with his brother-in-law Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, one of Mexico's most-wanted men, González Valencia reportedly coordinated international drug trafficking operations in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. He was also responsible for managing the financial operations of the CJNG and Los Cuinis.