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Generic Ethnic Crime Gang

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"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 and Metro-Specific Underworld. In terms of Alike and Antithetical Adversaries, these guys fall on the "homogeneous" side of the scale.

Types of gangs

The most common types of gangs are:
  • The Cartel: Latin Americans (from Mexico, Central or South America).
  • Gangbangers: Varies; at least in the United States, they're often either African-Americans and/or Mestizo Hispanics. In other countries, it's any local ethnic (sometimes multi-ethnic) group that is mostly concentrated in poor urban ghettos.
  • The Irish Mob: Irish (or Irish-Americans).
  • Kosher Nostra: Jews (including Israelis).
  • London Gangster: British (especially English).
  • The Mafia: Italians (or Italian-Americans).
  • The Mafiya: Various ex-Soviet nationalities (especially Russians).
  • The Triads and the Tongs: Chinese (or Chinese-Americans).
  • White Gangbangers: At least in U.S. settings, they're European-Americans (of unspecified ethnic descent, but probably non-Hispanic). For settings in Europe, then they're usually just Europeans (whether indigenous or immigrants to their specific countries).
  • Yakuza: Japanese (or Japanese-Americans).
  • The Yardies: Black British (usually Afro-Caribbean, especially Jamaican).

Other types of gangs include:

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    Black Mob 
Essentially the more sophisticated upscale version of stereotypical black gangbangers who usually prefer tailored suits to blue jeans. However, they're actually much older than their bandana-wearing counterparts, having first emerged in the wake of the Great Migration when millions of African Americans moved out of the South and up into urban centers. In portrayals set in the early 20th century, they're often somewhat subordinate to the Italian and Jewish mobs as a result of the racial politics of the time but they grow more powerful from the 1960s onward. Works set after their growth in power will typically portray them and the Italian mob as bitter enemies, partly due to ethnic tensions. They might also be somewhat at odds with black gangbangers when they're not using them to do their dirty work since the more sophisticated Mafia blacks tend to see gangstas as living up to racist stereotypes.note  Stereotypically, they deal mostly in drug trafficking, money laundering, and prostitution, but may also run gambling rackets or have connections to the profitable Hip-Hop and R&B industries. Black mobsters are a mainstay in Blaxploitation flicks and urban dramas, usually portrayed as either roguish anti-heroes or as despicable drug-peddling villains. They're generally a bit more likely to be given the Neighborhood-Friendly Gangsters treatment than other kinds of gangs, especially when placed in opposition to other non-black gangs, but this is not always the case. Compare this trope with The Yardies, who are British/West Indian gangsters who fulfill a similar archetype although, in real life, these groups often feud with each other.
  • American Gangster: Real-life drug lord Frank Lucas models his empire on the Italians' to create an African-American mafia, with himself as the patriarch. Along the way, he is constantly underestimated because of his race, both by his Italian counterparts and by law enforcement.
  • MGM+'s Godfather of Harlem tells a similar story, relaying a fictionalized account of the life of Harlem mobster Ellsworth 'Bumpy' Johnson. Throughout the series, Bumpy feuds with the Italian Mafia for control of Harlem's underworld and even (ahistorically) allies with civil rights leader Malcolm X.
  • Gambol from The Dark Knight is a clear example.
  • 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 is a deliciously maniacal example in the hit movie 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 run by Big Perm.
  • Tony Marcus in the works of Robert B Parker.
  • The Black Mafia Family or BMF, a powerful criminal organization that was active between the late 1980s and the mid-2000s and had intimate ties to the rap industry, was a real-life example of this trope.
  • Power focuses on the exploits of black mobster and nightclub-owner James 'Ghost' St. Patrick who sees his nightclub, Truth, as his way out of the NYC drug game and into legitimacy.
  • During the Harlem Renaissance, Harlem's underworld was ruled by several prominent mobsters such as Casper Holstein and Stephanie St. Clair, who were beloved local celebrities that made their money on relatively harmless gambling rackets.
  • Despite being an Irish-American, Frank Reynolds was a bookie for one on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
  • While "Chalky" White's operation is distinctly subordinate 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 to become a kingpin in his own right.
  • In Marvel's Luke Cage (2016), the titular hero spends most of his time feuding with sinister black mobsters like Cottonmouth, Diamondback, and Black Mariah, only to seemingly become one himself at the end of the series.
  • Mafia II has The Bombers, African American gangsters who deal drugs. While they're the least encountered in the main story, The Betrayal of Jimmy DLC makes them an Ascended Extra by making them one of the Big Bad Ensemble, alongside The Triads and the Tongs.
  • Mafia III, meanwhile, stars Lincoln Clay, the sole surviving member of the Black Mob of New Bordeaux, which was slaughtered by the Marcano family and its white supremacist affiliates in a power play for the city. Lincoln's own organization is a bit more Equal-Opportunity Evil than the usual rendition of the trope, although still majority black. Lincoln is also assisted by Cassandra, the mysterious leader of the local Haitian gang, who holds a grudge against the former Black Mob.
  • One could argue that CJ and Big Smoke from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas elevated from their classic gang-banger status into this over the course of the game. They both grew up in the Grove Street Families, a traditional neighborhood-based gang with implied Black Panther origins but their gang has been facing pressure from their rivals the Ballas, who have started dealing in crack. CJ spends years away from home, working for Joey Leone, the mechanic son of an Italian Don and after coming back home ends up allying the Grove Street Families with the other neighborhood "Families" gangs, a Chinese Triad boss, a government agent, and a local Mexican gang, along with forging ties with people in the music industry and getting involved in the real estate business, where his significantly less "Street" sister runs things pretty smoothly. Big Smoke, on the other hand, betrays the GSF and starts selling crack for the Ballas, forming a syndicate with a Mexican gang and a high-profile pimp from a different city, all with the help of a Corrupt Cop.
  • Saints Row features the Vice Kings, a predominantly African-American gang controlling gambling, prostitution, and pornography in Stilwater. Unlike other gangs in the game, their leader, Benjamin King, actually tries to go legit and gradually exorcise the illegal aspects of his business, which is cut short by the Saints' intervention and his own dissatisfied underlings' treachery.
  • They core conflict in the Sopranos prequel film The Many Saints of Newark is between the Italian Dimeo family we know and love from the main series and a syndicate of black mobsters led by a former Dimeo associate, who seek to carve out their own section of Newark's underworld.
  • Watchdogs provides the Black Viceroys, a highly disciplined outfit of black gangsters led by U.S Army veteran turned mobster Delford 'Iraq' Wade.
  • The parents of Alex Wilder from Runaways are a clear example, running L.A.'s criminal underworld with an iron fist as the only two Badass Normal members of the Pride.

    Corsican Mafia 
Basically, they are The Mafia but Corsican. The organization is also a major part of Le Milieu otherwise known as the French Mob.
  • Both the book and movie versions of On Her Majesty's Service are set in Corsica, so naturally, the mob is going to show up. Both Tracy di Vicenzo and her father Marc-Ange Draco are part of the Corsican Mafia.
  • The French Connection in both fiction and real-life has the group traffic drugs into the United States during the 1970s.
  • American Gangster has the Corsican mob attempt to kill Frank Lucas after he put them out of business in New York.
  • Mireille Bouquet of Noir is the sole survivor of a powerful Corsican crime family that was wiped out by brutal mobsters.
  • Banana Fish has Corsican gangster Dino F. Golzine as the main antagonist of the story.
  • Elementary's season 2 finale arc has the cast encounter the Corsican mafia.
  • The Headhunt has an offhand mention that the Ver Eshalakh (alien military police) have "had ... encounters with the Milieu which did not end in their favor".
  • The Unione Corse is a real-life example as they were the largest and most influential group in the Corsican Mafia and the French Milieu.

    Dixie Mafia 
Where the ethnicity is white, Southern, and rural. They tend to have structured more informally than other gangs. May overlap with Bandit Clan or hate groups like The Klan in some cases. Their activities will generally consist mainly of moonshine running, dealing drugs (amphetamines and opioids are the stereotypical narcotics of choice) and contract killings.
  • Justified: Being set in Kentucky, most of the gangsters, major and minor, were Southern, and ranged in scope of operations from local bandit clans and hillbilly moonshiners on up to the Dixie Mafia proper, controlled by real estate mogul Emmett Arnett, and Psycho for Hire Wynn Duffy.
  • Claws has the Husser family, a branch of the local Dixie Mafia, as major antagonists, headed by "Uncle Daddy" Clay Husser.
  • Mafia III features the Dixie Mafia, led by Ritchie Doucet, as associates of the Marcano mafia family. They're portrayed as a gang of neo-Confederates who traffic in heroin and black prostitutes while being unabashedly racist. There's also the Southern Union, essentially a more upscale Klan with ties to Cosa Nostra.

    East Asian and Southeast Asian gangsters 
Koreans, Vietnamese, Laotians, and other East and Southeast Asian nationalities. They'll often be involved in the heroin trade (especially if they're linked to unsavory characters in the Golden Triangle) or street racing. Since Southeast Asians tend to be refugees from communist governments or descended from them, expect them to be strongly anti-communist.
  • Grand Theft Auto has the Da Nang Boys (Vietnamese gangsters), and Korean mobs (North Korean, Room 39-expies, in IV, standard South Korean Kkangpae in V) in addition to the Triad.
  • Marrying The Mafia features a Korean mob family.
  • Korean gangsters appear in several installments of the Yakuza-franchise, and are always portrayed as ruthless and efficient, even in comparison to their Japanese counterparts.
  • The protagonist in The Perfect Weapon fights a Korean mob.
  • The Hmong Gangbangers from Gran Torino.
    • Scalped has them as well, this time out of Minnesota.
  • The Azn Bad Boys of Worm, with added superpowers.
  • The Ronin from Saints Row 2 are a branch of a Japanese yakuza family who took over the Vice Kings' businesses of gambling, prostitution, and pornography since their collapse in the first game. Also, in Saints Row, the Westside Rollerz are comprised about fifty-fifty of Asian and White Gangbangers, but their leadership is all-Caucasian and they don't have any ties to East Asian organized crime.
  • The Liumang from Yakuza: Like a Dragon is predominantly ethnically Chinese, but it has none of the trappings associated with The Triads and the Tongs and in effect operates any other gang. Talking with their leader reveals that most members are second- or third-generation immigrants, and only a small number of them speak any Chinese whatsoever.

    Eastern European gangsters 
These gangs take advantage of the instability in the Balkans and flourished after the fall of communism. Stereotypically linked to human trafficking and heroin. Often overlaps with Balkan Bastard.

    Greek gangsters 
Greek Gangs seem to be the go-to Ethnic Crime Gang for antiquities smuggling and gun-running; illegal (non-casino) gambling is another favorite.
  • Nick "the Greek" in Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels
  • Colombo and Kristatos in For Your Eyes Only, who were from the Ian Fleming short story "Risico".
  • Men of Respect. Has Greek Mob boss Alli "The Greek" Bernacci and other Greek gangsters.
  • Played for Laughs in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where Toula's brother and cousin jokingly (probably) claim to be this as part of the classic If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her... routine.
    Cousin Nick: (in a very cheerful tone) Hey Ian, we're gonna kill ya! Opa!
  • The Martina Cole novel Dangerous Lady
  • An arc in season 5 of CSI: NY has Stella Bonasera investigating a Greek antiquities smuggling gang.
  • Soap Opera Days of Our Lives. In the Back Story, Victor Kiriakis was originally a member of a Sicilian Mafia-style Greek crime family in his home town of Nafplion, Greece.
  • In The Untouchables episode "Jack 'Legs' Diamond", the title criminal made a deal with a Greek crime family to buy $5 million worth of narcotics.
  • In the second season of The Wire, the primary antagonist is only known as "The Greek", and his gang informally as "the Greeks". He's not Greek (but definitely foreign), and his gang is multinational, with Israelis, Russians, and at least one genuine Greek as The Dragon.
  • The Velentzas family is a Greek-American criminal organization operating in the New York City area.
  • The Philadelphia Greek Mob, mostly active in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Justified's Detroit mob is controlled by the Theo Tonin, a Greek mobster, and several of his top henchmen, including Ethan Picker and Elias Marcos are also Greek.

    Haitian gangsters 
A more specialized variant of The Yardies, and more likely to operate in the Americas, particularly the Southeastern United States. Hollywood Voodoo being the one thing everyone knows about Haiti, expect them to practice it.
  • Mr. Big in the literary version of Live and Let Die is a Haitian-American whose organization consists mostly of black gangbangers (the films gave him a fictional but barely-disguised ethnicity).
  • Feature in the backstory of Solomon Grundy in the DC Animated Universe. In life, he worked alongside them, but they betrayed him fatally and cursed him, leading him to rise from the dead.
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has them as the main enemies of the Cubans.
  • In Mafia III there's a group haunting the bayou outside of New Bordeaux, with plans on muscling in on Delray Hollow. Lincoln smashes their operation in an early chapter, then takes over the remnants for his feud with the Marcanos.
  • Saints Row 2 gave us the Sons of Samedi, an Afro-Caribbean-led gang controlling Stillwater's drug trade, particularly that of the fictional Loa Dust. That said, because the Stillwater University campus is one of their primary selling and recruiting grounds, plenty of White Gangbangers fill out their lowest rungs.
  • Cyberpunk 2077: The Voodoo Boyz are a predominantly Haitian Afro-Caribbean gang who control the south-west of Night City. They are notoriously insular and use plenty of voodoo imagery to frighten their enemies, but are in fact largely atheist. They also do very little drug-dealing, and confine most of their criminal activities to the Net.
  • Bad Boys II Features the Zoe Pounders, based on the Miami gang of the same name founded by Haitian immigrants.

    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. New Zealand actually has the highest rate of gang membership per capita in the world. Outlaw biker clubs are especially prevalent; some clubs are white-only while others are predominately Maori.
  • 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.
  • In Hack/Slash, the dominant crime family in Chicago are the Beanes, a deformed and psychotically violent Scots-American clan who are descended from the legendary Sawney Beane's sexual liaison with a demoness.
  • In the Danish film, Flickering Lights, the antagonists are Faroese gangsters. For reference, that is a Scandinavian ethnic group that only counts around 80,000 people.
  • Lonesome Dove and its film adaptation features an outlaw gang consisting primarily of Kiowa Indians, though some members are white and their leader, Blue Duck, is of Comanche and Mexican descent.
  • The Indian Detective: Doug gets tangled up with a local organized crime gang in Mumbai led by Gopal Chandekar. Of course, they don't stand out as an ethnic gang, per se, because they're also Indian. However, they did when he first encountered their members in Canada.
  • Mayans M.C. features a Samoan gang as minor antagonists. Samoan and other Polynesian gangs are prominent in many cities but rarely appear in fiction.
  • In its second season, Fargo features the Gerhardts, an ethnic German crime family in Minnesota at war with the Kosher Nostra Kansas City mob.
  • Pure: The plot centers on drug traffickers of German Mennonite background smuggling cocaine from Mexico to Canada (as both countries have such communities). It's repeatedly a source of incredulity to find these (nominal) Mennonites engaged in such activities, given they're known as a pacifist sect. They use code in their German dialect to help the smuggling, as most outsiders' don't understand it, and are helped by being from a very insular group with a reluctance about speaking with the authorities or seeking help from them. Strange as it sounds, this is Based on a True Story.
  • Predator 2 features Jamaican gangsters who use voodoo rituals in their dealings and are in the middle of a war with Colombians. Voodoo is traditionally a Haitian religion and the gangsters were originally planned to be Rastafarians, but executives were worried audiences wouldn't know what Rastafarians are.
  • Grand Theft Auto Online features the familiar predominately black Families and Ballas and the predominately Latino Vagos, Varrios Aztecas and Marabunta Grande, and the Los Santos Triads, but also an Armenian Mob and a Korean street gang, Kkangpae.

    Gangsters with fictional ethnicities 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the spin-off Angel had the occasional demonic mafiosi. For example, that Loan Shark who was a literal humanoid shark. We never got a close look at the family dynamics, though.
  • 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 even though they speak Ancient Greek — or at least a language "translated" as Ancient Greek).
  • 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.
    Garrus: Don't be fooled. Illium is just like Omega, only with more expensive shoes.
  • 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.
  • In The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt most of the gangs in Novigrad consist of humans of undetermined ethnicity, but Cleaver's gang consists entirely of dwarves, possibly an Expy of the above mentioned Carta.
  • Star Wars gives us the Hutts, of whom almost the entire species has crime lord as their Hat. However, Jabba has members of countless species under his employ and is the only Hutt seen in the original trilogy.
    • Several other such groups and gangs have made appearances in Expanded Universe works from both the current and Legends canon. A few notable examples include the Pyke Syndicate, a spice cartel that runs the spice mining operation on Kessel, the White Worms gang of Corellia, which has an ethnically diverse membership in the lower ranks but is primarily run by a race of four-meter long sunlight-sensitive worms and the Droid Gotra, which as the name suggests is made up entirely of criminal droids.
  • 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-supremacist 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.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • In Morrowind, the Camonna Tong are a native Dunmeri (Dark Elven) crime syndicate fiercely opposed to any foreign presence in Morrowind. They're involved in all manner of Mafia-esque illegal activities, including smuggling, drug running, "protection" rackets, bribery, and won't hesitate for a second to resort to violence if other methods fail. They're also one of the driving forces of Morrowind's (technically legal but frowned upon by the Empire) slave trade. They are led by Orvas Dren, brother of Vedam Dren, the Imperial appointed and quite upstanding Duke of Vvardenfell. Orvas has two Great House Hlaalu councilors in his pocket, effectively giving him veto power over major House Hlaalu policy changes. The Camonna Tong are involved in a gang war with the Thieves' Guild, and are the primary adversaries in that questline. Further, due to what are implied to be gambling debts owed to Orvas by Sjoring Hard-Heart, the leader of the Vvardenfell branch of the Fighters Guild, the Fighters Guild are effectively the muscle for the Camonna Tong. Dealing with this corruption can be done as part of either the Thieves Guild questline or the Fighters guild questline itself.
    • Skyrim has the Summerset Shadows, an all-Altmeri (High Elven) rival of the Thieves Guild. They appear in one Thieves Guild quest and are promptly eliminated.
  • 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 other 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.
  • The Bending Triads in The Legend of Korra are divided along the three major ethnicities. The Terra Triad is composed of earthbenders, the Red Monsoons employ waterbenders, and the Agni Kais are firebenders. There's also the Triple Threat Triad, so named because it employs all three.
  • The Giovanni Clan from Vampire: The Masquerade can be summed up as "vampire Mafia" (plus necrophilia and incest). Members do have real world ethnicities, however; the central family is from Venice (which makes them "vampire Mala de Brenta", technically), but have made business-based marriages into families in Mexico (Aztec necromancers), Scotland (Cannibal Clan werewolves), and the American East Coast (Rothschild Expy).
  • Shadowrun has a few gangs made up of specific metatypes, like the Ancients, an all-elf gang known for having training and equipment that rivals that of the military, and the Spikes, an all-troll motorcycle gang known for hating elves.
  • A storyline in Kevin & Kell had Kevin's father in debt to the Bovine Mob.
  • Zootopia has the Tundratown crime organization, following the idea that Zootopia's ethnic neighborhoods are based on biome. The "heavies" are polar bears; the boss is Mr. Big, an arctic shrew; and the organization draws heavily from both Russian and Italian organized crime.
  • Kaijumax: In the titular prison the various kaiju often form their own gangs depending on what type of creature they are, examples include the Cryps (based on the Aryan Brotherhood), the Maketo (Japanese kaiju) and the pacifistic group of religious Humongous Mecha lead by Mechazonn.
  • The Fishface Crime Syndicate from fighting game Schwarzerblitz: a mob exclusively composed by mutant fishmen who's lead by the squid man Go Ottari and manages the smuggling of goods and drugs between Ireland and the UK.
  • A few episodes of Doctor Who and later its spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures, featured various members of the Slitheen gang, an underworld family on the run from their home planet of Raxacoricofallapatorius.
  • Artemis Fowl: The B'wa Kell are a gang made up of goblins, heavily involved with smuggling.