Generic Ethnic Crime Gang
"There is no distinctly native American criminal class save Congress!"
In fiction, gangs tend to share a few common traits:
The second and fourth points are commonly played for drama, as combined they easily spark conflict
. A common convention is to have gangs of different ethnicities compete with each other, such as The Irish Mob
vs. The Mafia
See Ruthless Foreign Gangsters
. In terms of Alike and Antithetical Adversaries
, these guys fall on the "homogeneous" side of the scale.
The most common types of gangs are:
Other ethnic gangs are:
The classier, more organized version of Gang Bangers
(who frequently despair at the latter and wish they'd Stop Being Stereotypical
). Compare with The Yardies
, who are British/West Indian.
- American Gangster: Real life drug lord Frank Lucas models his empire on the Italians' to create an African-American mafia, with him as the patriarch.
- Gambol from The Dark Knight
- Lottery operators such as those depicted in the film Hoodlum
- Mr. Black (haha, get it?) from Darkman appears to be one of these, from the way he dresses, but it's hard to tell because he is almost immediately killed by Durant.
- The Boss's gang in Lucky Number Slevin.
- Nino Brown in New Jack City.
- One of the Feuding Families from Romeo Must Die was this type of mob, the other being a Triad.
- Shoe Coldfield from The Vampire Files leads a relatively-benign Bronze Belt mob in 1930s Chicago.
- In Friday Craig and Smokey owe money to a black gang led by Big Perm.
- Tony Marcus in the works of Robert B Parker.
- The Black Mafia Family or BMF, active between the late 1980s to the mid 2000s can be seen as a real life version of this trope.
- While "Chalky" White's operation is distinctly a second-stringer to Nucky Thompson's at the beginning of Boardwalk Empire, he rises in social status both legitimate and criminal over the course of the series.
East Asian and Southeast Asian gangsters:
Eastern European Gangsters:
These gangs take advantage of the instability in the Balkans
and flourished after the fall of communism. Stereotypically linked to people-smuggling, heroin, and forced prostitution
Greek Gangs seem to be the go-to Ethnic Crime Gang for antiquities smuggling and gun-running; illegal (non-casino) gambling is another favorite.
Latin American Gangsters:
Some can overlap with The Cartel
, but The Cartel
tends to be strictly based on drugs and has a physical base in South America.
Gangsters of more unusual ethnicities
- The Indigenous Australian (Torres Strait Islanders) crime syndicate in The Straits smuggles drugs in one of the most naturally beautiful parts of the world (North Australia and Papua New Guinea). They also deal with Asian and Papua New Guinean criminal franchises. In this case, one of the co-founders of the indigenous crime gang is of Maltese ethnicity, however.
- A throwaway line in Leverage referring to a "New Zealand mafia" somewhere on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Even the characters are surprised.
- The second and fourth seasons of Engrenages feature North African mobs in France. The fourth season additionally has a Kurdish gangster family.
- Transhuman Space has the Maple Syndicate, which as the name suggests is Canadian.
- The Tauron Ha'la'tha from Caprica fits all four points (family-oriented with an old patriarch—the Guatrau—honor and loyalty, very organized, and all Taurons), despite including some elements of The Cartel (tattoos and rap, plus Taurons are Space Mexicans).
- In Mass Effect:
- Ethnic Crime Gang seems to be the hat of the Vorcha. Pretty much all you ever get to meet seem to belong to street gangs.
- Though they usually have multi-species organizations, the Blue Skinned Space Babe race of the Asari seems to run almost all major crime in the galaxy. The asari planet Illium is officially a "special economic zone", but in reality that means it's a primary hub for everything that is illegal to sell elsewhere.
- BioWare also brought us the Carta, the dwarven mafia from Dragon Age. Much of the reason they're so prevalent is that dwarven society has a population of casteless dwarves, who are considered the lowest of the low and banned from legitimate occupations; their only choices are crime, begging, prostitution (or something close), cleaning the streets, or emigration (the last often considered a Fate Worse than Death). Even those who emigrate often end up part of the surface Carta; these tend to smuggle lyrium to outcast ex-templars and apostate mages, among other things.
- Star Wars gives us the Hutts, of whom almost the entire species has crime lord as their Hat.
- The Breccia in Discworld are the Troll Mob. The name is something of a Genius Bonus, as breccia is a kind of rock made from fragments of smaller rocks cemented together.
- The Orion Syndicate in Star Trek. While they have many operatives of various races, the whole thing is run by the Orions.
- In Traveller the planet Granicus is run by gangsters. There are three main syndicates, two of which consider it just business and have no particular ethnic associations. The third however is a Solomani-supremist cult.
- The Organization from the Dragaera novels is dominated by (and dominates) House Jhereg, although it also admits outcasts from other Houses and Easterners who buy their way in. Averted by the Left Hand, whose membership is mostly outcast, not Jhereg-born.
- In the Eclipse Phase setting most ethnic crime gangs with the exception of a few Triads were either wiped out entirely in the Fall or only survived as tattered remnants that eventually joined forces and became the Night Cartel.
- In The Elder Scrolls the Camonna Tong are a dark elven crime syndicate fiercely opposed to any foreign presence on Vvardenfell, involved in a gang war with the Thieves' Guild and only tolerating outlanders when they are brought in as slaves. Through connections to Hlaalu Councilor Orvas Dren they also have effective veto power over major policy changes by House Hlaalu.
- DnD's Eberron campaign setting has four of these in the city of Sharn:
- The Boromar Clan is composed largely of halflings. Who are something of a Proud Warrior Race in this setting. The patriarch and his immediate family are pretty well respected, in fact his daughter is on the city council, but his cousins from the old country (who act as enforcers) are dinosaur riding barbarians.
- Daask is a gang of monsters who more or less report directly to the rulers of the monster nation of Droaam.
- House Tarkanan is made up of people with aberrant dragonmarks, in a twisted parody of the respectable dragonmarked houses.
- The Tyrants are shapeshifters, mostly changelings but some purebred doppelgangers and a few ofher races as well.
- In the Supernatural' episode "Bloodlines" (S09, Ep20), Chicago is run by five monster families with the werewolves controlling the Gold Coast and the djinn controlling the South Side.