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12 Biggest Organized Crime Groups in America

In the land of dreams, crime runs rampant as evidenced by the 12 biggest organized crime groups in America. So what exactly is the definition of organized crime? Well, organized crime refers to a crime that is committed out on a coordinated basis by groups of criminals, and is carried out on a large scale as well. In fact, this is the reason why it is hard to crack down organized crime. There are so many people involved on different levels, arresting one person or even a dozen barely makes a dent in this billion dollar industry. However, this is just a basic definition. To truly distinguish between ordinary crimes and organized crimes, you should consider the characteristics of organized crime, some of which include a hierarchical structure which is controlled by a few people and a reserve fund which comes in handy on a rainy day. Truly, you could be forgiven for confusing an organized crime group with a legal business, as both operate on similar structures. To learn more about crime, you might want to consult any of the 25 best crime documentaries on YouTube.

There are various types of organized crimes committed by the top crime groups that include the typical crimes you would expect from a street criminal such as rape, murder, and stealing. However, the bigger crime groups who wield enormous influence and power go beyond such crimes and enter (or in some cases create) criminal industries such as human trafficking, kidnapping for ransom and drug trafficking, all of which are enormously profitable.

12 Biggest Organized Crime Groups in America

Mark Agnor/

We have been facing the issue of organized crime for a long time now and instead of seeing it reduced, we have seen it grow exponentially, resulting in deaths, violence, anarchy and loss of billions. In fact, organized crime history can be traced several hundred years back, when pirates and bandits organized to attack villages, pillaging loot while killing those who tried to defend their property. Later on, in the nineteenth century, organized crime started to develop in the United States, with the Wild Bunch being considered as one of the first and hence one of the biggest organized crime groups in America.

The above is not to suggest that only the US is prone to organized crime; in fact, some of the biggest organized crime groups are located in other countries, such as the Solntsevskaya Bratva, considered to be perhaps the biggest crime group in the world, whose headquarters are anchored in Russia. The most powerful arm of the Russian mafia consisting of well over 9,000 members, the Solntsevskaya Bratva, has operated since 1980 and had a hand in the murders of many influential men as well as other illegal activities.

It is a well known fact that every group needs a leader to operate efficiently, hence every gang has a leader as well. We couldn’t help but wonder who is the biggest gangster in the world today. We’ve researched a bit and found out that, while many sources differ, perhaps the person most deserving of this title is Joaquin Guzman, or El Chapo (also known as drug lord), who was the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, and who has escaped the police despite being captured many times.

We decided to limit our focus on groups which maintain a large, ominous presence in the United States. To this end, we researched the various crime groups operating freely in America, and ranked them according to their involvement in cross border crimes, which are generally considered to be of a serious nature, as mentioned in the National Gang Report 2015 created by the FBI. We further tried to rank them according to their revenue, but since their operations aren’t legal, the figures we obtained could not be accurately verified and ascertained, hence we decided this criterion would weaken our rankings instead of strengthening it. The list was not an easy one to construct. Most of the articles on the web focus on a global level with respect to criminal organizations rather than the US alone. Let’s kick off our list with:

12. Artistas Asensios

The gang is involved in numerous illegal activities and is famed for its involvement with the infamous Sinaloa drug cartel. While the gang may not be as active as it once was, it has been to engage in a few murders here and there.

12 Biggest Organized Crime Groups in America

Seb c’est bien/

11. Norteño

The Norteños gang was formed in Northern California, and was specifically created to counter the growing influence of Surenos, a gang which had ties to the Mexican Mafia.

12 Biggest Organized Crime Groups in America

Andrey Burmakin/

10. Crips

One of the largest organized crime groups in America, Crips, boasted a membership of more than 30,000 criminals, back in 1999. The gang is notorious for its violent crimes.

12 Biggest Organized Crime Groups in America


9. Bloods

Bloods is ironically the bitter rival of aforementioned gang Crips, whose primary members are African Americans.

12 Biggest Organized Crime Groups in America


8. Texas Syndicate

Number eight on our list of biggest organized crime groups in America is the Texas Syndicate, established as a prison gang in order to counter other gangs preying on native Texans, and are still largely a prison gang though some of their members engage in other forms of criminal activity as well.

12 Biggest Organized Crime Groups in America


7. MS-13

MS-13 is one of the biggest threats to the fight against organized crime in the country, according to the US Attorney’s office. This group consists of over 6,000 members and is considered to be the first street crime group in the US to be described as a transnational criminal enterprise.

12 Biggest Organized Crime Groups in America


6. Latin Kings

The oldest Hispanic crime group in the world, the Latin Kings are involved in various illegal activities including drug trafficking and weapons trafficking, which explains its appearance among the biggest organized crime groups in America.

12 Biggest Organized Crime Groups in America

Per Bengtsson/

5. Paisa

Established in Colombia, Paisa consisted of paramilitary members who established themselves as drug traffickers. However, the group’s influence has waned in recent years and its power has been called into question as well. However, as evident from this report, the group still holds some sway, especially in cross border crimes.

12 Biggest Organized Crime Groups in America

Africa Studio/

4. Mexican Mafia

Despite its name, this organization that ranked third on our list of biggest organized crime groups in America, was established in the US and despite only a few hundred members, has managed to successfully carry out criminal activities on a large scale.

3. Tango Blast

An even bigger threat than MS-13, Tango Blast, established in Houston, has over 19,000 members and earns most of its profits through criminal activities such as human trafficking.

12 Biggest Organized Crime Groups in America


2. Barrio Azteca

Another gang established in Texas, the Barrio Azteca has engaged in drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering and contract killing, to name a few of their crimes.

12 Biggest Organized Crime Groups in America

Artem Furman/

1. Sureños

Topping the list of the biggest organized crime groups in America is Sureños, a rival of the earlier mentioned Norteños. Sureños pay homage and respects to the Mexican Mafia, and carry out most of the dirty work of the Mafia, such as human trafficking, hence allowing them to claim the top slot.