There are certain people in the world that you don’t want to mess with: those who control some of the largest organized crime operations on the planet. Organized crime has always been a problem, but as we move into 2012 some syndicates have exploded with profit and influence. Criminal groups that used to follow illegal schemes have turned to more reliable forms of profit.
The people that will be highlighted in this article include the current leaders of the Sicilian Mafia, American Cosa Nostra, Neopolitan Camorra, ‘Ndrangheta, Russian Mafia, Albanian Mafia, Chinese Triads, Japanese Yakuza, Montreal Mob, Solntsevskaya Bratva, Clerkenwell crime syndicate, Los Rastrojos, Sinaloa Cartel, and the Juárez Cartel.
In some cases it was hard to determine the true godfather, so an underboss is highlighted. In order to be considered for the article the individual had to be either out of jail or scheduled to be released in the next year. This was necessary in order to eliminate the huge amount of crime bosses that continue to run operations from behind bars.
In the world of organized crime it is rare for a high profile boss to remain out of jail and in power for a long period of time. John DiFronzo has accomplished this. He is the current leader of the Chicago Outfit. The Chicago outfit is one of the largest crime syndicates in the United States. They are known for violence, turf fighting, and have operations in many cities, including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Miami. One of the Chicago Outfits biggest competitors is the Russian Mob. Unlike most organized crime groups, the Outfit has members from other ethnicities besides Italian Americans, including the Polish, Welsh, and Japanese-American populations. To this day, the Outfit has a strong influence from Al Capone.
In 1993, a man named John “No Nose” DiFronzo took over as the boss of the Chicago Outfit. DiFronzo was a veteran enforcer and caporegime of the family. He got the nickname “No Nose” because he sliced off part of his nose while jumping through a window during a 1949 clothing store burglary. DiFronzo is known for his dangerous temper. However, little information is available about his true personality. In 2005, DiFronzo avoided indictment in the “Family Secrets” trial of the top Chicago Mafia leaders. This fact, along with other federal indictments has caused some to question DiFronzo’s true motivations and possible connection with the police. As of 2012, he continues to run the Chicago Outfit.
The Clerkenwell crime syndicate or A-team is one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the United Kingdom. The gang was formed in the 1980s by Terry Adams and his two brothers Tommy and Patrick Adams. The family is known for brute force, violence, and wealth. They are said to be involved in drug trafficking, extortion, security fraud, gambling, as well as the hijacking of gold bullion shipments. The A-team has been linked to 25 gangland murders and often uses Afro-Caribbean muscle to influence informants and rival criminals.
Terry Adams is the boss of the syndicate, while his brothers control the finances and enforcement. The overall wealth of the brothers has been placed around $200 million, but due to the nature of the criminal world, it is impossible to determine the true extent of the A-team’s influence. The BBC has asserted that the crime syndicates strength has decreased since 2000. In 2004, Sean “Tommy” Adams gained attention in the UK media when it was discovered that he had been hired by former footballer Kenny Dalglish to secure the sports agency Pro Active’s exclusive management rights to Manchester United and England football striker Wayne Rooney.
In 2007, Terry Adams was convicted of money laundering charges and jailed for seven years. He was ordered to repay £4.7 million in legal aid and £800,000 of prosecution costs. Overall, it was a minor offence for Adams, who has the ability to keep a distance from murder and other serious criminal activities of the organization. Adams was released on June 24, 2010, but recalled to prison in August 2011 for breaching his license. He didn’t report a £7,500 facelift and £7,000 trip to the dentist. Currently, Terry Adams is in jail, but expected to be released in the next couple years. His two brothers are under surveillance by the Serious Organised Crime Agency and police in Spain, but continue to run the Clerkenwell crime syndicate.
In the last couple years the organized crime situation in Montreal, Quebec, Canada has become a problem for authorities. A turf war has been waged between the Rizzuto crime family, who has operated in Montreal for decades, and the Italian based ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate. In 2007, the long reigning Godfather of the Italian Mafia in Canada Vito Rizzuto was arrested and given a sentence of 10 years. Since then, many of the high ranking officials in the Rizzuto crime family have been murdered, including Vito’s father Nicolo, his son Nick, Paolo Renda, Agostino Cuntrera, and most recently Salvatore Montagna, who was an acting boss of the Bonanno crime family of New York City.
Vito Rizzuto is scheduled to be released from prison in October of 2012 and the police fear that he will organize a mass retaliation effort against the ‘Ndrangheta with the help of some powerful men. It can only be suspected that Ruzzuto will do whatever it takes to avenge the death of his family. Vito Rizzuto is a smart boss and according to law enforcement officials he oversaw a criminal empire that imported and distributed tones of heroin, cocaine, and hashish into Canada. Rizzuto laundered hundreds of millions of dollars and profited from illegal gambling, fraud, and contract killings. Some people have dubbed the Rizzuto clan the Sixth Family and put them on an equal footing as the Five Families of New York, so you can be sure that some important people are overlooking the situation.
The Motisi Mafia clan is a historical Mafia syndicate from the Pagliarelli area in Palermo, Italy. The organization is powerful and has a direct tie to the Sicilian Mafia. In the 1980s, a man named Matteo Motisi took control of the Motisi clan and became connected with the Corleonesi faction of the Italian mob. After Matteo was arrested for murder and sentenced to life in prison, his nephew Giovanni Motisi (u pacchiuni) took over as the new boss of the Pagliarelli family. Giovanni has been a federal fugitive since 1998 and is considered to be one of the more powerful bosses of Palermo.
Giovanni Motisi rose in the ranks of the Mafia with a reputation for violence and a quick wit. Motisi is close friends with boss Bernardo Provenzano, who was arrested in 2006. After Provenzano was jailed, it is thought that Giovanni Matisi was given more responsibly in the Cosa Nostra. Today, the whereabouts of Motisi are unknown. According to some reports he is dead, while others maintain that he is hiding out in Agrigento, in the south of Sicily. If he is in Italy, there is no doubt that Giovanni Motisi plays an important role in the Sicilian Mafia.
The Juárez Cartel is a Mexican drug cartel based in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, across the border from El Paso, Texas. The group has a reputation for intense violence and torture. They will mutilate their victims and leave the bodies in a central location for everyone to witness. To give you a clear estimate on the wealth of the Juárez Cartel in the late 1990s. After cartel leader Amado Carrillo Fuentes died in 1997 from plastic surgery complications he had an estimated wealth of US$25 billion, which makes him one of the wealthiest criminals in history.
Since 1998, the undisputed leader of the Juárez Cartel has been Amado’s brother Vicente Carrillo Fuentes. For a short time Fuentes formed a partnership with the biggest drug lords in Mexico, including Ismael “Mayo” Zambada, the Beltrán Leyva brothers, and Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. However, after the Sinaloa Cartel refused to pay for a collection of smuggling routes into the U.S., the friendship was broken. The Juárez Cartel then became enemies to the Sinaloa Cartel.
The bad blood between the groups escalated in 2004 when Vicente’s brother Rodolfo Carillo was killed outside of a movie theatre allegedly at the order of Guzmán Loera. In response, Vicente Carrillo had Guzmán Loera’s brother “El Pollo” assassinated in prison. The event marked the beginning of a massive Mexican turf war which has caught the attention of media from around the world. In 2005, the Juárez Cartel was at the center of the “House of Death” case, where the organization was penetrated by law enforcement, but the case was compromised because the informant participated in the murders.
Despite the advancement of the Sinaloa Cartel, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes remains a billionaire and controls a large portion of Mexico’s drug trade. He collects hundreds of millions of dollars each year by smuggling huge amounts of drugs into the United States. Fuentes remains one of Mexico’s most powerful and wanted drug lords. The United States is offering a $5 million dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of Vicente Carrillo Fuentes.
Los Rastrojos is a group that is currently engaged in the Colombian armed conflict. The cartel is considered to be the largest supplier of drugs in Columbia. They collaborate with a wide range of Mexican syndicates, including the most powerful Sinaloa Cartel. Los Rastrojos specializes in the transportation of cocaine, heroin, and illegal gold mining. They control the primary smuggling routes into Venezuela, which is a bridge for cocaine into Europe. The organization is, together with the Norte del Valle cartel, considered the “heirs” of the Cali cartel. However, some people feel Los Rastrojos are in fact the same as the Norte del Valle cartel.
Luis Enrique Calle Serna alias “Comba” was the leader of Los Rastrojos until he surrendered to the U.S. DEA in May of 2012. With the news of Comba’s arrest, second in command Diego Perez Henao (Diego Rastrojo) assumed control of the criminal organization. Perez Henao is widely considered to be one of the most powerful Columbian drug lords in the world, along with Daniel Barrera Barrera alias “El Loco Barrera.”
In the early years of Los Rastrojos, Perez was instrumental in the expansion and growth of the organization, sending out heavily armed cells to different parts of the country. He secured access to drug crops, cocaine laboratories, and corridors within Colombia. Before becoming a drug lord, Diego Rastrojo was a longtime hitman who specialized in collecting coca in rural areas. He maintains a low profile and little information is known about his personal life. As of 2012, Perez maintains direct command over Los Rastrojos across Columbia and takes a direct hand in combat. He has been indicted by the U.S. government and remains a federal fugitive.
Albanian organized crime is a major problem in Albania, the United States, the European Union, and other areas of the world. In Albania there are over 15 mafia clans that control organized crime. The Albanian mob is known for violence, torture, and terrorist activity. They have constructed an enormous crime syndicate that is primarily based around drug and arms trafficking. However, the syndicate participates in a diverse range of criminal enterprises, including car theft. Similar to other organized crime groups, the typical structure of the Albanian Mafia is hierarchical. They hold a deep reliance on loyalty, honor, and blood relationships.
Albanian Mafia clans are usually made up of groups of fewer than 500 members. They are secretive and little information is known about the current Albanian Mafia bosses. In the 1980s, the Albanian Mafia moved into New York and began to fight with the Italians. Today, the Albanian presence is highly evident and the organization has come to an agreement with other criminal syndicates, who have agreed to stay out of their way.
In Italy, Albanian organized crime gangs appear to control the car theft and trafficking market. Albanian gangs are believed to be largely responsible for sex trafficking, immigrants smuggling, and the heroin trade in the United Kingdom. They hold a heavy presence in France, Switzerland, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Australia, and Honduras. According to Wikileaks, Albanian Mafia clans are affiliated with various South American politicians and banks.
It remains unclear who the acting boss of the entire Albanian Mafia is, but it is clear that a man named Daut Kadriovski is one of the leaders. He is the reputed boss (godfather) of one of the 15 Families. A Yugoslav Interior Ministry report identified him as one of Europe’s biggest heroin dealers, and calls Daut Kadriovski a “major financial resource for the KLA.” In 1993, Kadriovski moved to New York and began to assert himself in the Albanian Mafia. He is currently wanted in 12 European countries, but remains a free man. Kadriovski gained the attention of the Australian Authorities after it was discovered that he created a drug pipeline through Albanian and Croatia to Sydney and Brisbane.
The Camorra is a Mafia-type criminal organization that originated in the region of Campania and its capital Naples in Italy. It is one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world and dates back to the 16th century. The word “Camorra” was first used in 1735, when a royal decree authorized the establishment of eight gambling houses in Naples. The word is almost certainly a blend of “capo” (boss) and a Neapolitan street game, the “morra.” Unlike the Cosa Nostra, the Camorra is composed of individual clans that act independently of each other.
In recent years, various Camorra families have formed alliances with Nigerian drug gangs and the Albanian Mafia. In Campania, where the unemployment rate is high, the Camorra have began to offer children jobs in the area of criminal activity, including cigarette smuggling, drug trafficking, and theft. It is difficult for officials to fight the problem because the society of Campania has come to tolerate and accept the mobsters. The area is governed by a code of silence or omertà that persists to this day.
Pasquale Scotti is an Italian criminal and boss of the Camorra. He has been wanted in Italy since 1985 for murder, concealment of corpse, and other crimes. Scotti has been described as a smooth and ruthless personality. He is one of the most able of the lieutenants of the historic leader Raffaele Cutolo and is an extremely popular mobster. On Christmas Eve of 1984, Scotti escaped from the hospital of Caserta where he had been admitted for a wound to the hand.
In 1990, an international arrest warrant was issued against Pasquale Scotti. However, he has since disappeared. In January 2005, he received a life sentence for a series of 26 murders during the 1982-83 Camorra war between the NCO and the Nuova Famiglia. In October 2011, while Scotti had been on the run for nearly 27 years, the Italian police issued a new photo profile on the basis of a mug-shot from the 1980s. The new attention sparked interest in the case and prompted new questions over possible leads. Some people have described the possibly that Pasquale Scotti is dead.
In Japan, the largest organized crime syndicate is known as the yakuza. The group is extremely powerful and has a long history. In 2012, it was estimated that over 100,000 yakuza exist, with 85,000 of them living in Japan. The most powerful yakuza syndicate is the Sixth Yamaguchi-gumi, which is one of the largest organized crime groups in the world. The Sixth Yamaguchi-gumi is known for strict rules and tradition. The syndicate makes billions of dollars each year from extortion, gambling, the sex industry, guns, drugs, real estate, construction kickback schemes, stock market manipulation, and Internet pornography.
The supreme godfather of the Sixth Yamaguchi-gumi is named the kumicho. The first kumicho was Harukichi Yamaguchi, who ruled from 1915-1935. The current boss is Kenichi Shinoda. Shinoda is one of the most powerful and dangerous men in Japan. He gained control of the syndicate in 2005 after the retirement of previous don Yoshinori Watanabe. Under Shinoda’s rule, the Sixth Yamaguchi-gumi has expanded and moved into some areas of Tokyo that are traditionally not Yamaguchi turf. He is the first Yamaguchi-gumi kumicho not to hail from the Kansai region and is well known for public appearances.
Kenichi Shinoda has been in and out of prison for his entire life. In the early 1970s, he was convicted of murdering a rival gang boss with a katana, and spent 13 years in prison. In 2005, only four months after being named kumicho, Shinoda began serving a six-year prison sentence for gun possession. He was released on April 9, 2011 and regained personal control of the crime syndicate. While in jail, the Sixth Yamaguchi-gumi was run by Kiyoshi Takayama.
Takayama has been dubbed the “Katame of Nagoya” or simply the “Katame” meaning “one eye,” because he has a closed right eye. In early 2012, it was announced by the U.S. Treasury that it would freeze the assets of both Kenichi Shinoda and Kiyoshi Takayama. Journalists called the move “a slap in the face to the Japanese government” for taking a lenient stance toward organized crime. Since the 2011 earthquake, Japan has seen an increase in organized crime activity. The action was the first time the U.S. government used the 2011 executive order to “target and disrupt significant transnational criminal organizations.”
In the United States the Mafia is most active in New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, New England, Detroit, and Chicago. In New York there are five main families that run operations, including the Gambino, Lucchese, Genovese, Bonanno, and Colombo clans. The largest and most powerful of these families is the Genovese crime family. The Genovese family is known for running offshore gambling websites. In the 21st century the Genovese syndicate contributed to the U.S. mortgage crisis by taking advantage of easy bank loans. In the history of the crime family only five members have ever turned state’s evidence.
Officially, the current acting boss of the Genovese crime family is an imprisoned man named Daniel Leo, who is scheduled to be released in 2013, but another man named Liborio Bellomo (Big Barney) is said to be one of the fastest rising Mafia members in the United States today. In 1992, Vincent Gigante thought enough of Bellomo to give him control of the Genovese family’s day-to-day operations at the age of 35. Bellomo was considered Vincent Gigante’s logical successor as boss until he was sent to prison in 1996.
In 2008, Bellomo was released and regained his position in the family. His exact role is yet to be revealed, but many assume that Liborio Bellomo is one of the top gangsters of New York. Among the five families of New York the current acting bosses include Vincent Badalamenti (Bonanno), Domenico Cefalu (Gambino), Carmine Persico (Colombo), Steven Crea (Lucchese), and Daniel Leo (Genovese).
One of the most dangerous criminal organizations in the world is the ‘Ndrangheta. The syndicate is based in Calabria, southern Italy. The ‘Ndrangheta operate independently from the Sicilian Mafia and control over 3% of Italy’s total GDP through extortion, money laundering, drug trafficking, and other illegal operations. It has been estimated that the ‘Ndrangheta generate an annual revenue of about €35-40 billion. The main difference between the Sicilian Mafia and the Ndrangheta is their recruitment methods.
The ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate is active all over the world, but extremely prevalent in Canada, especially Toronto. Canada’s banking system is very secretive and doesn’t allow investigation, so it is an ideal place to launder money. Inside of the ‘Ndrangheta, the boss is given the title Capo crimine, but unlike other criminal organizations, this person is not the “boss of bosses.” They actually have comparatively little authority to interfere in family feuds or violence. The last known Capo crimine was Domenico Oppedisano, who was arrested in 2010.
During the late 2000s, the most powerful man inside of the enormous ‘Ndrangheta syndicate was Pasquale Condello. He was known as “Il supremo” (the supreme one) inside of the family.
Condello was regarded as a key figure in the world of trafficking cocaine between Colombia and Italy. He also controlled valuable water purifying contracts in some Calabrian towns. In 2008, Condello was arrested by over 100 policemen who converged on an apartment in the district of Occhio di Péllaro, on the outskirts of Reggio Calabria.
Since the ‘Ndrangheta rely on family blood to organize their hierarchical structure, the next person in line to be the supreme leader of the clan was Pasquale’s cousin Domenico Condello. Domenico is currently one of the most wanted men in Italy and has been evading police for years. In 2012, it was announced that a collection of Domenico’s accomplices and family members were arrested for harboring the fugitive. In 2012, Condello remains at large and a major force behind the ‘Ndrangheta management.
The United Bamboo Gang is the largest of Taiwan’s three main Triads. The Triad Underground Society is a term used to describe a collection of Chinese criminal organizations based in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Macau, Taiwan, China, and other areas with a significant Chinese population. In the early 1980s the United Bamboo Gang rose to attention when the group became involved with politics. The Bamboo Union was headed by mobster Chen Chi-li (King Duck) for over 30 years until he died in 2007. The true influence of the crime syndicate is not fully understood and the Bamboo Union is a violent group that will do whatever necessary to achieve their ultimate goals.
Similar to other criminal organizations, The Bamboo Union prefers that people don’t know who the Dragonhead (boss) is. For this reason, it is impossible to determine. However, we will focus on the possible leader Chang An-lo (White Wolf). The White Wolf is a top ranking official in the Bamboo Union who is dangerous because he is extremely smart. In fact, the White Wolf holds five separate bachelor’s degrees, three of which were obtained from American universities.
While serving a prison sentence in the United States Chang An-lo was quoted: “The clock can’t be turned back. Many brothers are now in the stock, finance, and construction industries.” The statement is indicating that the Bamboo Union has moved so far into the political sector that they can make billions of dollars and yuan from legal activity and don’t need to risk smuggling. It is well known that the Triads do not deal with drug trafficking. Currently, Chang An-lo is recognized as a former leader of the Bamboo Union crime brotherhood, but remains a fugitive living in Shenzhen, which is north of Hong Kong.
After Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011, a man named Joaquín Guzmán Loera (El Chapo) became the most wanted man in the world. Loera is the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel and has been named “the world’s most powerful drug trafficker.” The Sinaloa Cartel is a drug-trafficking syndicate based in the city of Culiacán, Sinaloa, with major operations in the Mexican states of Baja California, Durango, Sonora, and Chihuahua. The cartel has been called Mexico’s most powerful organized crime group and primarily smuggles cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana into hubs around the world.
The U.S. DEA strongly believes that Joaquín Guzmán Loera has surpassed the influence of Pablo Escobar as the “godfather of the drug world.” In 2011, Forbes magazine ranked him as the 55th most powerful person in the world. He is also one of the richest and a billionaire many times over. To keep a low profile, El Chapo is known to hold a vast collection of hideouts and underground fortresses. He is connected with many powerful government officials, police officers, and other businessmen who protect the cartels assets. A kingpin named Ismael Zambada García is the co-leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.
The U.S. and Mexican governments are determined to capture El Chapo Guzmán before the upcoming 2012 presidential elections. Projections show that his arrest would be good for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. In June of 2012, the PAN candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota said that if she was elected this summer she had the power to capture El Chapo and help diminish the control of the Sinaloa Cartel.
On February 19, 2012, Mexican lawmen “nearly nabbed” Guzmán Loera in a coastal mansion in Los Cabos just a day after Hillary Clinton met with foreign ministers in the same peninsula. In May 2012, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it would apply sanctions against Guzman’s sons under the Kingpin Act, which prohibits people in the U.S. from conducting businesses with them. Currently, a $7 million reward is being offered for information leading to El Chapo’s arrest, $5 million from the U.S. government and another $2 million from Mexico.
Who is the current capo dei capi of the Sicilian Mafia? This article will focus on a man named Matteo Messina Denaro who is thought to be the godfather. Denaro is currently not in prison, but is heavily wanted all over the world. In Italy, the Sicilian Mafia (Cosa Nostra) is a powerful criminal syndicate that emerged in the middle of the 1800s. The organization is composed of a collection of families who claim a territory in which they operate an extensive racketeering business.
In 2008, it was reported that about 25.2% of Sicilian businesses were indebted to loan sharks, who collected around €1.4 billion a year in payments. The Sicilian Mafia is believed to have a turnover of €6.5 billion through the control of public and private contracts. Mafiosi members reportedly use threats of violence and vandalism to muscle out competitors and win contracts. It is estimated that the Sicilian Mafia costs the Sicilian economy more than €10 billion a year through protection rackets.
All of these facts have put pressure on the Italian police to fight the Cosa Nostra. In 2008, the authorities foiled an attempt by the syndicate to reconstitute a new Mafia Commission. At the meeting a large number of names were nominated as the new godfather, including Benedetto Capizzi, Gaetano Lo Presti, Gerlando Alberti, Gregorio Agrigento, Giovanni Lipari, Gaetano Fidanzati, Giuseppe Scaduto, and Salvatore Lombardo. Some younger bosses include Giovanni Riina, Domenico Raccuglia, Pietro Tagliavia, Gianni Nicchi, and Raccuglia. Most of these people are in prison, but it should be mentioned that a large collection of mafia members continue to run operations while in jail.
Matteo Messina Denaro is a 50-year-old mafia boss that is widely considered to be the current godfather. He is one of the wealthiest fugitives in the world. Denaro is often portrayed as a ruthless playboy and womanizer by the media. He is violent man and has a reputation for fast living and expensive things. Over the last couple years, the Italian government has seized over 3 billion euros from dealings related to Messina Denaro. In 2011, an attempt to arrest Denaro failed and he escaped. Today, he remains one of the top mob bosses in the world.
Semion Mogilevich has been described by the FBI as the most dangerous mobster in the world. He is a Ukrainian-born organized crime boss who is believed to be the leader of the Russian Mafia. All decisions related to the expansion and organization of the syndicate is run by Semion Mogilevich. He is an extremely intelligent and ruthless leader who holds a degree in economics. Mogilevich earned the nicknames “Don Semyon” and “The Brainy Don” because of his smarts. According to Wikileaks, Mogilevich has been connected with some huge companies, including RosUkrEnergo, Raiffeisen Bank, and Gazprom, which is a Russian state energy group.
Semion Mogilevich rose to the position of godfather after he gained control of the Solntsevskaya Bratva. The Solntsevskaya Bratva is a powerful crime organization from Moscow named after the Solntsevo neighborhood in the city. The syndicate is considered to be one of the most dangerous criminal groups in the world. They are known for a strict code of violence, drug smuggling, racketeering, illegal gambling, kidnapping, and contract killings. The Russian Mob is also one of the most profitable in the world and Semion Mogilevich is said to be a secret billionaire.
Some articles have even suggested a link between the criminal kingpin and Vladimir Putin, accusing Putin of keeping Mogilevich safe in return for his presidential support. Whatever the case, Semion Mogilevich is currently the most recognized and powerful organized crime boss in the world. He is protected by a thick line of political defenses and continues to control the most detrimental criminal clan of Russia. On October 22, 2009 Mogilevich was named by the FBI as the 494th fugitive to be placed on the Ten Most Wanted list.