Known to have an affinity for high powered assault rifles, the Jamaican Posse is well connected in the island’s government and heavily feared for its practice of ritualized killing that often involves laundry irons, butchers knives, and even vacuum cleaners.
Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC)
Found throughout the Sao Paolo prison system in Brazil as well as its numerous favelas (slums) this gang is known for kidnapping, extortion, and its ability to instill fear. In May 2006 it managed to put the entire city of Sao Paolo under siege for almost a week while gang members brutally killed police officers and burned government buildings.
What started out as local gang of 16 year olds turned into one of the biggest crime organizations in the world. As bitter rivals with both the Bloods and numerous hispanic street gangs the Crips are known for wearing the color blue and carrying out extreme acts of violence. They are so violent in fact, that many of their casualties are the result of infighting and internal conflicts.
Responsible for roughly 1/4 of prison murders in the United States, if you want to be a member of this gang you must kill or assault a fellow prisoner. It is a practice known as “blood in, blood out” so anyone who tries to leave the gang usually ends up dead or in the hospital as well.
La Nuestra Familia
As one of the biggest Chicano gangs in the world it is also bitter rivals with its fellow countrymen in the Mexican Mafia (#18). In fact, La Nuestra Familia is said to have started when a member of La eMe stole a fellow Latino’s pair of shoes. This gang is known for requiring extremely strict allegiance and it takes over two years to be fully initiated. Once you are in, though, there’s no turning back.
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Widely considered to be one of the best organized gangs Latin gangs in the world the Kings have a highly detailed constitution that includes traces of Marxism, Confucianism and Christianity. Although they are not as violent as many of the other gangs on this list they do engage in a fair share of illegal money making activities including contract killings.
Unlike the other gangs on this list, Jesse James and his cohorts are no longer with us. And it’s not really brutality that the James Younger Gang was known for. They were just really good at stealing money from people…really, really good.
Mexican Mafia (La eMe)
A loose ally of the Aryan Brotherhood (#22) this west coast prison gang is known to be heavily involved in the business of drug trafficking. Their members are identifiable by the tattoo of a black hand, usually across the chest.
Although the origins of this international gang are disputed, there is one thing that is for sure – they are good at making money. Although they have been known to resort to extreme violence they typically only use it as a means to an end. Most of their operations are focused around money laundering and financial crimes in Los Angeles and eastern Asia.
Black Guerrilla Family
A very politically motivated organization, one of the Black Guerrilla Family’s objectives upon being founded in 1966 was to overthrow the United States government. They have numerous allies on both coasts including the Crips (#16) and the Bloods (#9). Their main rivals, however, are the Aryan Brotherhood (#22)0 and the Mexican Mafia (#18).
Area Boys (Agberos)
A loosely organized group of teenagers and abandoned youth that roam the streets of Lagos, Nigeria this group has been known for its practices of extortion and drug violence. Although not nearly as ruthless or well-organized as many other gangs on this list, they are still widely feared for their seemingly unprovoked attacks on innocent bystanders and as their members age they will likely become a much more sophisticate criminal organization.
Almighty Black P. Stone Nation
A Chicago street gang with heavy Islamic influences, its leader, Abdullah-Malik (born Jeff Fort) actually had ties to Muammar Gaddafi and had met with him on several occasions. Although they were not known specifically for violence they have often been targeted by the FBI due to their high profile activities.
Members of this Japanese gang are required to cut all ties with their family and pledge complete loyalty to their gang boss. In western media, a practice often associated with the Yakuza has been Yubitsume, or cutting the off one’s finger as an act of apology. This practice is actually so prevalent that when four fingered British cartoons like Postman Pat were introduced in Japan the government considered adding an extra finger to avoid scaring little kids.
With an extensive international reach this biker gang is well known for its ruthlessness. It should also be noted that while most Mafia groups or criminal organization engage in illegal activities with the objective of turning a profit, Hells Angels reverses that notion. They believe that violence and lawlessness are an inherit part of living the “life” and any money made of their activities should simply be used to perpetuate that lifestyle.
More commonly known as the American Mafia, this high profile crime syndicate is an offshoot of the Sicilian Mafia. It finds its roots in New York’s lower east side with the start of Italian immigration to the States. Although the media usually refers to it as the “mafia” neither the Sicilian nor American Mafias have any formal name for themselves and simply go by “cosa nostra” meaning ‘our thing’ in Italian. Known for its ruthless code of conduct, if a member breaks any rules the punishment is almost always death, and usually it is executed by those closest to the offender.
Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Although it’s not typically what you would think of when the word “gang” comes to mind, the Irish Republican Army operates in a manner similar to many of the gangs on this list, with violence being their forte. As a paramilitary group the IRA is responsible for numerous deaths and terrorist attacks and has as its goal the eradication of Northern Ireland and a unified Irish government.
Known for wearing the color red and their intense rivalry with the Crips, the Bloods were originally a set, or faction of the Crips. After breaking off they were outnumbered 3:1 which caused them to resort to extreme acts of violence for which they are still known today.
A relatively smaller gang with few allies the Texas Syndicate is not to be underestimated. One of the gangs it is allied with, however, is Los Zetas (#4) and the Syndicate has been known, along with MS13(#2) for carrying out many of the Zeta’s contract killings within the United States.
This massive Chinese crime syndicate is actually a conglomerate of gangs that has over 2.5 million members all over the world. While each branch has its own customs and practices, the triads as a whole are known for their very organized structure and intense, bloody rituals.
Similar to Hell’s Angels and operating under similar philosophies the Mongols was actually started as an alternative to their more popular counterpart for people of other races. Not surprisingly the Mongols and Hell’s Angels are rivals and have been known to engage in violent confrontations.
18th Street Gang
It has been said that on average everyday someone in Los Angeles County is assaulted by an 18th Street Gang member. Although they are rivals with the Bloods (#9), Crips (#23), and MS13 (#2) , over the last ten years the 18th Street Gang has racked up a kill count over three times as high as any of their rivals.
One of the most powerful drug cartels in the world, Los Zetas is responsible for so much death and destruction that it would be hard to fully describe its magnitude. It’s primary base of operations is located in Mexico but it’s reach extends far beyond the Mexican border and it has been a thorn in the side of numerous governments including the United States.
Widely known for their practice of not only killing their rivals, but also all of their family members, the Russian Mafia brings new meaning to the word “cold-blooded”. Their reach is global and if you ever want to do business in Russia you can be assured that at least 20% of your company’s profits will end up in their pockets if you value the lives of your family.
Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13)
One of the most violent gangs in the world, MS-13 makes most other gangs look like high schoolers dealing marijuana. It was started in California in the 1980’s when a group of Salvadorians fled the civil war in their country. Since then it has grown to over 70,000 members with operations throughout North and Central America. They have been known for acts of extreme and unprovoked violence which often include gruesome dismemberments, even against women and children.
Operating in the slums of Nairobi this extremely violent gang syndicate stands at about 100,000 members strong. In the past its members have been known for their signature dreadlocks and a practice of bathing in blood. More recently though, they have been associated with numerous beheadings and forced female circumcisions as they assert themselves in the political arena. Unlike most gangs who identify themselves by either clothes or body markings, the Mungiki have opted for something a little more representative of their ideals – a severed human head on a stick.