• Train of the Plain

    "El Tren de Llano" (Train of the Plain) is one of the first so-called "megabandas" or criminal gangs to develop in Venezuela. The criminal enterprise is active in drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and murder and was known both as "El Tren de Llano" and "El Picure," the street name of its formidable founder José Antonio Tovar Colina, one of Venezuela’s most wanted criminals until he was killed by the Bolivarian National Guard in May 2016.

  • Cachiros

    The Cachiros were one of Honduras' largest transport groups, with a net worth close to $1 billion. Made up of a family of former cattle rustlers, the organization became a major player in the movement of cocaine between Colombian and Mexican organizations.

  • MS13

    The Mara Salvatrucha, or MS13, is perhaps the most notorious street gang in the Western Hemisphere. While it has its origins in the poor, refugee-laden neighborhoods of 1980s Los Angeles, the gang's reach now extends from Central American nations like El Salvador and through Mexico, the United States, and Canada. They rob, extort and bully their way into neighborhoods and have gradually turned to transnational crimes such as human smuggling and drug trafficking. Their activities have helped make the Northern Triangle -- Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras -- the most violent place in the world that is not at war. In October 2012, the US Department of the Treasury labeled the group a "transnational criminal organization," the first such designation for a US street gang. 

  • Familia Michoacana

    At the height of its power, the Familia Michoacana’s brutal tactics, strong base of operations and pseudo-religious ideology made it a formidable operation and a point of fascination for outsiders. However, the group has suffered a series of heavy blows, most notably that of leader Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, alias "El Chayo," who was falsely reported killed in 2010 and was later confirmed dead in a shootout in March 2014. The Familia is now thought to have been largely supplanted by a splinter group known as the Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar), which has also been seriously weakened in recent years.

  • Sinaloa Cartel

    The Sinaloa Cartel, often described as the largest and most powerful drug trafficking organization in the Western Hemisphere, is an alliance of some of Mexico's top capos. The coalition's members operate in concert to protect themselves, relying on connections at the highest levels and corrupting portions of the federal police and military to maintain the upper hand against rivals.

  • Shining Path

    The Shining Path is an insurgent group in Peru that has declined in recent years, although one faction remains dedicated to drug trafficking activities in Peru's remote jungle regions.

  • Gulf Cartel

    The Gulf Cartel was once among Mexico's top cartels

    The Gulf Cartel is one of the oldest and most powerful of Mexico’s criminal groups but has lost territory and influence in recent years to its rivals, including its former enforcer wing, the Zetas. In the cartel's heyday, its boss, Osiel Cardenas Guillen, was considered the country’s most powerful underworld leader, and the Zetas the most feared gang.

  • Tijuana Cartel

    The Tijuana Cartel, also known as the Arellano Felix Organization, is based in one of the most strategically important Mexico border cities for trafficking drugs into the United States. Due to infighting, arrests and the deaths of many top leaders, the organization is a shell of what it was in the 1990s and early 2000s, when it was considered one of Mexico's most potent and violent criminal groups. Still the cartel continues to export narcotics and may be expanding its presence internationally. 

  • Knights Templar

    The Knights Templar (Cabelleros Templarios) emerged in March 2011 as a splinter group of the once-mighty Familia Michoacana. Like their predecessors, the Knights Templar cast themselves as a "self-defense" movement engaged in a struggle with Mexico's larger criminal cartels on behalf of the Michaocan population, and frequently employ religious imagery in their public communiques. The arrest or killing of several top leaders in 2014 and 2015 has put the criminal organization's future in doubt.

  • Juarez Cartel

    The Juarez Cartel is responsible for smuggling tons of narcotics from Mexico into the U.S. throughout its long and turbulent history, and the group's intense rivalry with the Sinaloa Cartel helped turn Juarez into one of the most violent places in the world.