There is something about organised crime which holds an enduring fascination in the public consciousness. Whether it is Films like The Godfather, TV shows like the Sopranos or following the trials of underworld bosses in the News we can’t get enough of the grim yet strangely exciting world of organised crime. What organisations are the most powerful?

Mafia (USA)

Despite robust efforts by Federal authorities to crackdown on the Mafia in recent decades the various crime syndicates have not been fully eradicated. The Mafia is nothing like as powerful as it was during the early to middle part of the 20th century when the major family groups of New York had a pernicious influence on big business and politics.

The last of the flamboyant leaders was John Gotti of the Gambino family who died whilst incarcerated. Nicknamed the Dapper Don by the popular press Gotti was a ruthless and violent man responsible for all manner of crimes, yet remained strangely popular with the public.

Yakuza (Japan)

Quietly important in Japanese society. The Yakuza have never been ostentatiously flashy as some crime organisations or indeed similar to how they have been portrayed in some western films.
The Yakuza are quiet and efficient. They have integrated themselves into being a fundamental part of Japanese politics, economics and society.

This has been the key to Yakuza success and longevity. They have become respectable. Disputes seldom spill over into violence, but the Yakuza must be considered one of the most succesful organised crime enterprises because of the sheer amounts of money they make.

Cocaine Cartels (Colombia)

For many decades Colombia has provided for the wealthy world’s drug habit. Cocaine has been an important recreational drug for well over half a century and during this time the Colombian cartels of Medellin and Cali have carved up the cocaine trade into their own spheres of influence.

They have become so rich and powerful they have undermined the state of Colombia. The most notorious of all Colombia’s gangster bosses was Pablo Escobar. In his day estimated to be one of the worlds richest men he called the shots throughout much of Latin America. Politicians, business leaders, Army Generals and anyone who opposed him faced fear of assassination.

Camorra (Italy)

Italy is usually associated with the Mafia. It is on the Southern Island of Sicily and from there to America where the Mafia’s influence has been most strongly felt. On the mainland of Italy it is the Camorra which has become the most powerful and deadly organised crime group.

In the city of Naples the tentacles of the Camorra reach into all facets of public life from construction, waste disposal, even the city’s water supply.

The Camorra’s influence is so far reaching that even for National politicians seeking election must quietly stay onside with the Camorra bosses. It is a secretive and shadowy organisation whose leaders are not flashy and are often unknown except to their immediate under bosses. The Camorra is perhaps the most powerful deadly and influential crime syndicates operating today.