The 15 biggest gangs in the world by population as of 2023

Of the 2

The clandestine world of gang warfare is a favourite for Hollywood movies. It is what earned The Godfather its popularity over the years; the narrative has been repeated numerous times. But did you know that such gangs exist? It seems like the social nature of human beings pushes people to amalgamate based on common interests. And people create gangs with rigid codes and brotherhoods that bind them for life. So, which are the biggest gangs in the world by population?

Biggest gangs in the world
Photo: (modified by author)
Source: UGC


  • The biggest gangs in the world by population
    • 1. Tambovskaya-Malyshevkaya (Russia)
    • 2. The 14k Triad (Hong Kong)
    • 3. Primeiro Comando Da Capital (Brazil)
    • 4. Crips (Los Angeles)
    • 5. Mara Salvatrucha (California)
    • 6. Latin Kings (Chicago)
    • 7. Aryan Brotherhood (California)
    • 8. Los Zetas (Mexico)
    • 9. La Eme (USA)
    • 10. The Clerkenwell Crime Syndicate (London)
    • 11. Camorra (Campania, Italy)
    • 12. The Bloods (Los Angeles, USA)
    • 13. Public Enemy Number 1 (California, USA)
    • 14. Yakuza (Japan)
    • 15. Sinaloa Cartel (Sinaloa, Mexico)

Gangs are a menace in the modern world. They create a profound limitation to a crime-free society considering their organized nature with hierarchies and allegiances that are hard to crack. And some of the most notorious have links past their borders, getting recruits in multiple countries.

It is still a wonder how they operate and stay afloat beside the apparent financing from illegal activities. So, what is the most dangerous gang with the highest population globally?

The biggest gangs in the world by population

Investors and entrepreneurs form organizations to maximize labour and expand their profits. But criminals create criminal enterprises, mainly as gangs, to further their objectives.

And these gangs, sometimes even referred to as brotherhoods, abide by solid values and allegiance and respect is never a compromise. That is why they have been growing and increasing over the years, and some have a massive population. According to Grunge, these are the biggest and most dangerous gangs in the world currently.

1. Tambovskaya-Malyshevkaya (Russia)

biggest gangs in the world
Members of Tambovskaya-Malyshevkaya gang. Photo: @Concerned Citizen
Source: UGC

The Grunge mentions Tambovskaya-Malyshevkaya as one of the largest mafias in the world, with an estimated membership of 600 people. But don’t let the number fool you. The secret organization has a massive influence and commands the allegiance of even more people. The gang is a merger of the Tambov Gang and the Malyshevkaya syndicate.

Where did the gang come from? According to Radio Free Europe, Tambovskaya-Malyshevkaya emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And in the early 1990s, they were the main guys, running virtually everything in St. Petersburg.

Tambovskaya-Malyshevkaya has a massive list of illicit activities. Its members have been charged with murder, drug trafficking, extortion and other violent crimes. However, despite these crimes, they continue to run their affairs in Russia.

They have been in operation for a long time and seem invulnerable. The current leader of Russia rose to prominence in the 1990s, when the gang was creating its roots.

2. The 14k Triad (Hong Kong)

biggest gangs in the world
Shirtless gang member of the 15-k Triad of Hong Kong. Photo: Concerned Citizen
Source: UGC

The triad is a notorious Hong Kong gang that operates under certain traditions and rules, which its members must abide by. It has an estimated membership of over 20,000 members, making it one of the largest gangs in the world.

The gang has been accused of engaging in human trafficking, drug smuggling, extortion, and assassinations, among many other crimes. They have a broad reach and have members scattered in other parts of the world, and that is why the gang has such a massive membership.

Authors Frank Shanty and Patit Paban Mishra note that the Chinese gang was created in 1947 in mainland China. In the beginning, it was slated to be a military organization to assist Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalist Army during the Chinese Civil War.

And as is usual with the underworld, the 14k triad has waged bloody wars against rival gangs, set bombs, stabbed people and committed more crimes. Also, there are speculations that the gang is closely linked to the Chinese government. This comes from the fact that many of the attackers during the pro-democracy protest in 2019 were in the gang.

3. Primeiro Comando Da Capital (Brazil)

biggest gangs in the world
Members of the Primeiro Comando Da Capital gang, one of the most stubborn in Brazil. Photo: @Concerned Citizen
Source: UGC

Primeiro Comando Da Capital proved to be the most powerful gang in Brazil in 2006 when they executed coordinated attacks in the streets and prisons that lasted for days. They attacked buildings, buses and innocent bystanders. The gang has approximately 10,000 members, who submit around $223 a month as membership fees.

They weren’t always violent as they started as a prison soccer team. During this time, Brazil’s economy suffered, and in turn, the prison population rose significantly.

The Primeiro Comando Da Capital saw the considerable influx of inmates and started offering protection, and within no time, it had evolved to be the biggest in Brazil’s prison system.

It was an innovative way of creating an alliance for organized crime as people affiliated with the gang never surrendered their allegiance. Hence, they continued being part of the illegal union when released from prison.

The criminal organization has a bad reputation for beating up people and even murdering some to get the membership fee of $230. The group doesn’t allow internal conflict to magnify. Whenever it happens, they murder the rebels and maintain a unified front.

4. Crips (Los Angeles)

biggest gangs in the world
Members of the Crips gang holding weapons. Photo: @T. Rodgers
Source: UGC

The Crips is a United States of America gang formed in Los Angeles in the 1960s or the 1970s. The organized group participates in illegal activities, including drug dealing, extortion, theft, and murder. Numerous online sources, including Trendrr, have mentioned the gang as being one of the most ruthless and biggest in the world.

The Crips gang is dominated by African Americans and is associated with the colour blue. The group has been having a bitter rivalry with another group called the Bloods.

Even though the group’s origins are disputed, many claim that Williams and Raymond Washington started in 1971 for protection from gang violence. In addition, some sources assert that the Black Panthers’ political group inspired Washington.

Today, the Crips operate in more than 40 states in the United States of America and has more than 20,000 members. But despite their expansion to other areas of the country, their stronghold remains to be Los Angeles.

5. Mara Salvatrucha (California)

biggest gangs in the world
Authorities guard an alleged MS-13 leader in El Salvador on July 27, 2021. Photo: AFP
Source: UGC

The Mara Salvatrucha gang is quite popular in America because politicians often mention it as a significant security threat. The gang has a poor reputation for using machetes to hack people to death and even executing people in broad daylight without a care in the world. They are also known to beat people to death with baseball bats.

The gang has approximately 70,000 members worldwide, and the number is growing. The MS-13 gang started in the 1980s from a wave of immigrants that fled El Salvador because of the civil war.

The primary aim of the organized group at the beginning was to protect the immigrants from other, more robust street gangs. However, the gang’s intentions altered over time, and they are known as one of the most violent in the 21st century.

6. Latin Kings (Chicago)

biggest gangs in the world
Jorge Cornell also known as King J, leader of North Carolina’s Latin Kings gang, calls for peace within the gang communities throughout the City of Greensboro. Photo:
Source: UGC

The Latin Kings is one of the most dangerous gangs in the world. There are more than 43,000 members across the country, and the most bizarre thing about it is that it has male and female members.

The gang was formed in 1940 to preserve Hispanic culture and promote education in the United States of America. However, it became violent over time, committing various crimes, including theft of military ordnance, consorting with terrorist groups, and more.

The 1990s was the worst time for the gang as they engaged in plenty of criminal activity after creating a policy called “anybody killer”. This meant that anybody that got in their way would be killed.

7. Aryan Brotherhood (California)

biggest gangs in the world
A member of the Aryan Brotherhood. Photo: @he Dallas Morning News
Source: UGC

The Aryan Brotherhood, also referred to as AB, is a neo-naz* prison gang and organized crime syndicate based in California, the United States of America. According to various sources, the gang is estimated to have between 15,000 and 20,000 members. How did it start?

AB was founded in 1964 and has transformed into one of the world’s deadliest and most violent gangs. The gang’s motto is “Blood In, Blood Out”, which communicates their brutality.

8. Los Zetas (Mexico)

Biggest gangs in the world
Soldiers escort a man who authorities identified as Omar Trevino Morales, alias “Z-42”, leader of the criminal group “Los Zetas”, on March 4, 2015. Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Anadolu Agency
Source: Getty Images

Mexico is home to some of the deadliest gang wars because of the numerous illegal organized groups in the region. And one of the deadliest is Los Zetas.

Los Zetas was created in 1990 and has engaged in numerous ruthless acts ever since. Their criminal acts are so brutal and inhumane that they are always in the news headlines for something bizarre.

They have become one of the most powerful cartels in Mexico and even have a good ranking globally. Los Zetas makes most of its income from drug trafficking and the rest from brutal extortion tactics. And if you don’t obey their requests, you might be one of their victims of beheadings, torture, slaughter, extortion, kidnapping and more.

9. La Eme (USA)

biggest gangs in the world
Members of the famous La Eme groups. Photo: @Concerned Citizen
Source: UGC

La Eme, popularly referred to as the Mexican Mafia, has a massive membership that would make other illegal organized gangs seem small. According to government officials, the gang has 400-500 official members with around 100,000 to 500,000 associates in different parts of the world hoping to become full members.

La Eme has also been referred to as a gang of gangs. It started in California to protect Hispanic men in the prison system. However, it evolved into a criminal organization with laid out rules. For instance, gang members cannot be cowards or informants; they shouldn’t steal from others and many more.

10. The Clerkenwell Crime Syndicate (London)

biggest gangs in the world
Terry Adams of the Clerkwenll Crime Syndicate. He has ruled London’s underworld in a career spanning almost five decades. Photo: @Concerned Citizen
Source: UGC

The Clerkenwell Crime Syndicate, also known as the Adams Family, is the biggest gang in the UK. It was formed in the 1980s and is still operational to date, credited with having a wealth of up to £200 million.

Its membership remains a mystery, but the gang’s wealth makes it one of the most powerful in the world.

11. Camorra (Campania, Italy)

biggest gangs in the world
Italian Carabinieri accompany Cosimo Di Lauro (C), son of Camorra (local mafia) boss Paolo Di Lauro, in Naples 21 January 2005. Photo: CARLO HERMANN/AFP via Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

The list of the biggest gangs in the world wouldn’t have been complete without an Italian gang. In addition, Italian gangs have been one of the most featured in Hollywood blockbusters, including The Godfather.

One of Italy’s most notorious secret crime organizations is Camorra, which is common in Campania, Italy. However, the most exciting thing about the gang is that it has been in existence for a long time, since 1417.

The group has more than 100 clans and approximately 7,000 active members. Camorra, just like other gangs, commits various illegal activities, including human trafficking, prostitution, racketeering, murders and more.

12. The Bloods (Los Angeles, USA)

biggest gangs in the world
Members of The Bloods gang. Photo: @T. Rodgers
Source: UGC

Is The Bloods the most dangerous gang in the world? The Bloods are perhaps one of the most famous gangs in the United States of America, considering their intense rivalry with the Crisps. They wear a dominant red colour, quite different from the blue colour of the Crisps.

The Bloods was created in Los Angeles in 1972 to compete with the Crisps. Today, they are more than 25,000 members in Los Angeles and other parts of the United States of America.

13. Public Enemy Number 1 (California, USA)

biggest gangs in the world
White supremacist group, Public Enemy Number 1 member . The gang has earned the reputation of being the first hybrid gang with members on the streets and in prison. Photo: @Concerned Citizen
Source: UGC

Public Enemy Number 1 (PEN1) is a street gang based in California, the United States of America. It is a white supremacist group that has earned the reputation of being the first hybrid gang with members on the streets and in prison. PEN1 makes money from drug dealing, but its members have committed numerous crimes.

14. Yakuza (Japan)

biggest gangs in the world
Members of Yakuza transnational organized crime syndicate originating in Japan. Photo:
Source: UGC

Yakuza is one of the most famous gangs globally, with over 102,000 members. It was formed just after the end of World War II. They engaged in construction, real estate, blackmailing, extortion and more.

The gang makes most of its money from prostitution, loan sharking, extortion and even human trafficking. The illegal group has also been associated with numerous assassinations, targeting big people in business and politicians.

15. Sinaloa Cartel (Sinaloa, Mexico)

biggest gangs in the world
Mexican Navy soldiers escort Joaquin Guzman Loera (front), alias “El Chapo Guzman”, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, on Feb. 22, 2014. Photo: Jair Cabrera Torres/NurPhoto
Source: Getty Images

Sinaloa Cartel has gained massive popularity because of its infamous leader El Chapo who escaped from prison two times. Their leader is not incarcerated, but the cartel is still operational, booming under the partial leadership of El Chapo’s son, Ovidio Guzman Lopez.

The Sinaloa Cartel is successful in the drug trade business because of its brutality. They ordinarily torture their enemies and rival gang members, giving a clear warning to anyone thinking of making a move on them.

All the biggest gangs in the world have one thing in common – organized crime. These gangs commit crimes of different natures, but the bottom line is that they are a menace to law and order. Some started with good intentions but turned rogue.

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