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Top 10 Mafias in the World

The top 10 mafias in the world include Cosa Nostra, ‘Ndrangheta, Camorra, Sacra Corona Unita, La Stidda, Mafia Capitale, Basilischi, and more. These criminal organizations, although diminished in power, have left a significant impact globally.

Criminal organizations have always captivated the public’s imagination, with their secretive operations and notorious activities. While they may have lost some of their former power, the world’s top mafias continue to wield influence and inspire intrigue. Among the notable names are Cosa Nostra, ‘Ndrangheta, Camorra, Sacra Corona Unita, La Stidda, and Mafia Capitale.

As we delve into the top 10 mafias in the world, we explore their origins, operations, and the impact they have had on societies worldwide. These crime syndicates, known for their organized structure and illicit activities, have propelled themselves into the annals of global criminal history. From Italy to other countries, their reach is far-reaching, making them subjects of interest for law enforcement agencies and the public alike. We shed light on the prominent players in the world of organized crime and the legacies they leave behind.

1. Cosa Nostra: The Italian Mafia Organization

The Italian Mafia organization, Cosa Nostra, is among the top 10 mafias in the world. Known for its global influence, Cosa Nostra operates with a low profile outside of Italy, making it challenging for law enforcement agencies to detect their organized crime activities.

History And Origins Of Cosa Nostra

Cosa Nostra, also known as the Italian Mafia, has a long and notorious history dating back to the 19th century in Sicily, Italy. It originated as a secret society formed to protect and promote the interests of Sicilian peasants against their oppressors. Over the years, it evolved into one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world.

Key Figures And Structure Of Cosa Nostra

Cosa Nostra is characterized by a hierarchical structure, with a boss known as the “Capo di Tutti Capi” (Boss of All Bosses) at the top. Beneath the boss are various ranks, including underbosses, capos, soldiers, and associates. These members form a complex network that controls different territories and criminal activities.

Criminal Activities And Influence Of Cosa Nostra

Cosa Nostra is involved in various criminal activities, including drug trafficking, extortion, racketeering, money laundering, and murder. Its influence extends beyond Italy, with significant operations and alliances in countries like the United States and Canada. The organization’s power and wealth have allowed it to infiltrate politics, businesses, and even law enforcement.

Notable Incidents And Infamous Members

Throughout its history, Cosa Nostra has been associated with numerous high-profile criminal incidents, such as the assassination of Italian judges and politicians. Infamous members include notorious bosses like Salvatore “Toto” Riina and Bernardo Provenzano, who led the organization during some of its bloodiest years.

2. ‘ndrangheta: Italy’s Most Powerful Mafia Group

‘Ndrangheta is currently recognized as Italy’s most powerful and influential mafia group. Originating from Calabria, a region in Southern Italy, ‘Ndrangheta has expanded its geographical reach and influence globally. With a strong presence in Europe, including Germany, Netherlands, and Switzerland, as well as in North America, particularly in Canada and the United States, ‘Ndrangheta is notorious for its involvement in various illegal activities.

The criminal operations of ‘Ndrangheta encompass drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion, and arms smuggling. This organization has formed connections with international criminal networks, facilitating its expansion and increase in power. Despite efforts by law enforcement agencies, ‘Ndrangheta has proven to be difficult to dismantle due to its secretive nature and decentralized structure.

Over the years, ‘Ndrangheta has been involved in high-profile cases that have attracted global attention. Its significant influence in the criminal underworld has made it a formidable force to be reckoned with.

3. Camorra: Naples’ Deadly Mafia Syndicate

The Camorra, Naples’ deadly Mafia syndicate, is among the top 10 Mafias in the world. Operating worldwide, it poses a great challenge for law enforcement agencies due to its low profile outside of Italy.

Background And Establishment Of Camorra

The Camorra is one of the oldest and most notorious criminal organizations that originated in Naples, Italy. It was established in the 19th century and has since become deeply rooted in the region’s socioeconomic fabric. This Mafia syndicate is known for its hierarchical structure, secret initiation rituals, and code of silence.

Structure And Influence Of Camorra

The Camorra operates through a network of powerful clans, each with its own leader, known as a “capo.” These clans control different territories and engage in various illegal activities, including drug trafficking, extortion, racketeering, and smuggling. The influence of the Camorra extends beyond Italy, with involvement in international criminal networks.

Infamous Crimes And Criminal Activities Of Camorra

The Camorra is infamous for its involvement in high-profile crimes, such as assassinations, bombings, and large-scale fraud. It has also infiltrated legitimate businesses, such as construction and waste management, exerting control and amassing immense wealth through corruption and coercion.

Efforts To Combat And Dismantle Camorra

Law enforcement agencies, both within Italy and internationally, continuously strive to combat the Camorra syndicate and dismantle its networks. However, the Camorra’s deep-seated influence and intricate connections pose significant challenges in eradicating this dangerous criminal organization.

4. Sinaloa Cartel: Mexico’s Notorious Drug Trafficking Organization


The Sinaloa Cartel is one of the most notorious drug trafficking organizations in Mexico. It has a strong leadership structure and operates globally. The cartel is known for its involvement in the production, smuggling, and distribution of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.

  • The Sinaloa Cartel has a vast network of drug smuggling routes, primarily focused on the United States.
  • They use various methods and locations to transport drugs, including underground tunnels, commercial trucks, and secret compartments in vehicles.
  • The cartel has established relationships with other criminal organizations and drug traffickers worldwide, allowing them to expand their operations.
  • The Mexican government, together with international law enforcement agencies, has been actively targeting the Sinaloa Cartel to dismantle its operations.
  • Multiple high-profile arrests and extraditions have impacted the cartel’s leadership, but it still remains a significant player in the global drug trade.

5. Russian Mafia: From The Ussr To International Organized Crime

The Russian Mafia, also known as Bratva, has a long and complex history that dates back to the days of the Soviet Union. The Mafia originated as a criminal group in the Soviet Gulag prison system, where prisoners organized themselves for protection and survival.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Mafia gained power and influence, becoming an international organized crime syndicate. Key figures within the Russian Mafia include notorious bosses such as Semion Mogilevich and Vyacheslav Ivankov.

The Russian Mafia is involved in various criminal activities, including drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering, and arms smuggling. They have a significant presence in the global narcotics trade, controlling a substantial portion of the market.

However, the Russian government has initiated crackdowns on organized crime, targeting the Russian Mafia. The government’s efforts have led to arrests and prosecutions of high-ranking members, but the Mafia continues to adapt and evolve.

6. Yakuza: Japan’s Notorious Criminal Syndicate

The Yakuza is one of Japan’s most infamous criminal organizations, known for its hierarchical structure, strict codes of conduct, and criminal activities. With a history dating back to the 17th century, the Yakuza has a deep-rooted presence in Japanese society.

The hierarchical structure within the Yakuza is characterized by the division of power into different ranks, with each member having a specific role and responsibility. Loyalty and respect for seniors are highly valued within the organization.

Yakuza members are bound by codes of conduct known as “ninkyo dantai,” which emphasize honor, duty, and obligation. These codes dictate how members should behave both within the organization and in society.

Criminal Operations and Influence of Yakuza in Japan

The Yakuza engages in various criminal activities, including drug trafficking, extortion, prostitution, gambling, and money laundering. They also have control over numerous legitimate businesses, ranging from construction companies to entertainment establishments.

Despite ongoing government efforts to combat their activities, the Yakuza’s influence continues to persist in certain areas of Japanese society. Their involvement in illegal activities and their network of connections pose challenges to authorities in dismantling their operations.

The Japanese government has taken steps to suppress the Yakuza’s criminal operations. In 1992, the “Anti-Organized Crime Law” was enacted to target Yakuza activities and cripple their financial resources.

Authorities have also implemented stricter regulations on legitimate businesses, making it harder for the Yakuza to use them as fronts for illegal activities. Additionally, law enforcement agencies have increased collaboration and information-sharing to better track and dismantle Yakuza networks.

7. Irish Mob: America’s Street Gang Turned Organized Crime Syndicate

The Irish Mob, once a street gang in America, has transformed into a formidable organized crime syndicate. As part of the top 10 mafias in the world, they have cemented their place among the most influential criminal organizations.

Top 10 Mafias in the World 7. Irish Mob: America’s Street Gang Turned Organized Crime Syndicate The Irish Mob, once a notorious street gang, transformed into a formidable organized crime syndicate in the United States. Origins and Growth of the Irish Mob The Irish Mob has its roots in the early 19th century with Irish immigrants seeking a way to survive in a new land. Initially, they formed street gangs for protection and financial gain. Over time, these gangs evolved into a more structured and powerful criminal organization. Territories and Criminal Activities of the Irish Mob The Irish Mob primarily operated in major cities with significant Irish populations, such as Boston, New York, and Chicago.

They engaged in various criminal activities, including drug trafficking, extortion, and racketeering. Notably, they were also involved in labor union corruption and control. Notable Figures and Famous Incidents associated with Irish Mob The Irish Mob had several prominent figures, including James “Whitey” Bulger and Danny Greene. These individuals gained notoriety for their criminal activities and clashes with law enforcement. One of the most famous incidents linked to the Irish Mob is the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929, where rival gang members were brutally murdered.

Decline and Current Status of the Irish Mob In recent years, the Irish Mob’s influence has significantly declined due to law enforcement efforts and internal rivalries. While some remnants still exist, they no longer hold the same power and dominance they once did. Today, other mafias and criminal organizations have taken the spotlight as the most powerful and dangerous in the world. (table)

8. Jamaican Shower Posse: The Violent Drug Cartel

The Jamaican Shower Posse, known for their violent drug cartel operations, is one of the top 10 mafias in the world. Operating globally, they have a notorious reputation for their criminal activities and influence.

Background and Formation of the Shower Posse:
The Jamaican Shower Posse is a notorious drug cartel known for its violent criminal activities. It was formed in the 1980s in the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood of Kingston, Jamaica. The group was initially established as a political gang aligned with the Jamaica Labour Party, but later evolved into a highly organized criminal enterprise involved in drug trafficking, extortion, and contract killings.
Jamaican Shower Posse’s Criminal Enterprises:
The Shower Posse gained notoriety for their involvement in the drug trade, primarily focusing on smuggling marijuana and cocaine into the United States. They established a wide-reaching network, with operations in major American cities such as Miami, New York, and Los Angeles. The gang’s criminal activities also included money laundering and the illegal trafficking of firearms.
International Expansion and Notable Incidents:
As the Shower Posse expanded its operations, it became involved in various high-profile incidents. In the 1980s, the gang was responsible for numerous acts of violence, including shootings, bombings, and murders. One of the most notable incidents linked to the Shower Posse was the 1985 assassination attempt on reggae singer Bob Marley. The gang also engaged in violent turf wars with rival criminal organizations.
Law Enforcement Actions against the Shower Posse:
Over the years, law enforcement agencies in Jamaica and the United States have launched multiple operations to dismantle the Shower Posse and curb its criminal activities. In the early 2000s, large-scale raids and arrests were conducted, resulting in the capture and imprisonment of several key members. These efforts aimed to disrupt the gang’s drug trafficking networks and diminish its overall influence.

9. Triads: China’s Ancient Criminal Organizations

Triads, one of China’s ancient criminal organizations, have a long and fascinating history. The origins of the Triads can be traced back to the 17th century during the Qing dynasty. They started as secret societies to overthrow the ruling Ming dynasty but eventually evolved into powerful criminal syndicates.

The Triads are known for their highly structured operations and hierarchical structure. They have a strict code of conduct and initiation rituals that members must adhere to. Their wide network spans across different countries, making them a truly global criminal organization.

Triads engage in a wide range of criminal activities such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, extortion, and illegal gambling. They also have significant control and influence in the business and political sectors.

Efforts to combat and suppress Triad activities have been ongoing. Law enforcement agencies in China and other countries work together to dismantle Triad operations and arrest their key members. However, the Triads continue to be a formidable force in the world of organized crime.

10. Colombian Cartels: From Medellín To Cali

Colombian drug cartels, specifically the Medellín and Cali cartels, were once notorious for their influence in the global illegal drug trade. The rise of these cartels can be attributed to their significant production and distribution of cocaine.

Medellín Cartel: Pablo Escobar And The King Of Cocaine

The Medellín Cartel, led by Pablo Escobar, gained immense power and wealth during the 1970s and 1980s. Escobar, known as the “King of Cocaine,” expanded his empire and became one of the richest individuals in the world. However, with his growing notoriety came a wave of violence and corruption.

Cali Cartel: The Rivals Of The Medellín Cartel

The Cali Cartel emerged as a rival to the Medellín Cartel, specializing in the production and distribution of cocaine. Despite being less violent than their counterparts, the Cali Cartel accumulated vast wealth and influence, operating with a more discreet and business-like approach.

Government Crackdown And The Decline Of Colombian Cartels

The Colombian government, with the assistance of international law enforcement agencies, initiated a crackdown on the Colombian cartels. This resulted in the arrests and deaths of several key cartel leaders, leading to the decline of their power and influence in recent years.


These top 10 mafias in the world have left a lasting impact on criminal history. From the ruthless Cosa Nostra to the secretive Ndrangheta and the powerful Camorra, these criminal organizations have operated worldwide, evading law enforcement agencies. While their influence may have diminished over time, their legacies still remind us of the dark underbelly of society.

Understanding the history and power dynamics of these mafias is crucial to comprehending the complexities of organized crime. Explore the depths of their operations, and delve into the dangerous world of these notorious criminal groups.

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