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Totalitarian Gangsterism

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"The Reapers. Before the blast they were just a bunch of junkies dealing drugs. Now they own the Neon District, taking whatever they want."

In a Gangster Land, there's the Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters and then there's these. These are not your Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters, where crime syndicates treat the inhabitants inside their areas with at least some respect. Instead, they are just as violent towards the civilians in their areas (and any civilian that accidentally crosses their path), treating them just like a rival crime syndicate.

In many cases, they would have some form of a de-facto Police State that watches over the neighborhood (or sometimes a Secret Police), Fascists' Bed Time in the form of violent crime overnight, The Aggressive Drug Dealer-styled drug enforcement or even forced Conscription into the gangster ranks. Sometimes said Police State would overlap with State Sec, if said crime syndicate is very close to the enforcers. Professional Killers would be commonplace in the area. In more severe cases, they would become an N.G.O. Superpower, rivaling the government in military power (or even being able to overpower it). Needless to say, these types of gangs may be seen as just as bad, if not worse than police corruption. Sometimes, the civilians would either become The Informant, (minus the criminal part) or actively try to rebel against the syndicate. When the civilians do try to rebel against the gangs, if they do suppress it, then they would crush the populace or even resort to a Final Solution.

If a Mob War happens around this, expect it to be a case Evil Versus Evil.

See also Vice City, Caught in the Bad Part of Town and The City Narrows. Compare with Taking Over the Town, Gangster Land and Wretched Hive. Compare and Contrast Ruthless Foreign Gangsters, in which it's the Crime Syndicates outside the area that are being ruthless and N.G.O. Superpower, in which although it does mean non-governmental organizations rivaling governments, doesn't just refer to Crime Syndicates. Could be the result of an Anarcho-Tyranny, where the tyrannical government deliberately lets the gangs have their way in specific parts of the country.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Lagoon: The criminal gangs of Roanapur rule over their Wretched Hive with an iron fist, and Hotel Moscow stands above them with their extreme ruthlessness and military-style precision (and level of firepower). Most, if not all, kinds of ruckus within city limits that merits them coming to deal with it ends with a brutal bloodbath, and in one arc where Balalaika is asked by her bosses to assist a Yakuza clan they were trying to ally with over on Japan, Balalaika finds it better (not to mention more exciting) to just kill everybody and perform a full-blown occupation.

    Comic Books 
  • In Batgirl (2011), the Disgraced were a gang who attempted to take over Gotham's Cherry Hill District in order to run it according to their own extreme version of law and order.
  • Many Batman stories will depict parts of or even all of Gotham being run like this; ethnic neighborhoods like Little Odessa and Chinatown seem especially prone to being depicted as gang fiefdoms even with Batman himself around. Notably, Batman: No Man's Land dispensed with all pleasantries and just had various supervillains and street gangs openly ruling parts of the literally-lawless city.
  • Much of the conflict in Get Jiro! centers around how International and The Farm have monopolized real estate and resources for all of the other restaurants in L.A., creating what is essentially a Protection Racket, food service being Serious Business in this world. After Jiro manages to turn their cold war into a free-for-all, one of Jiro's friends who had suffered under the rule bring the oppressed masses into a revolution against them.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Them! are a group of human traffickers who rule over a little corner of New York with fear and violence, until they try attacking Diana to get to one of their escaped victims.

    Fan Works 
  • After the kingdom of Vale was bottled and stolen by Brainiac in Hunters of Justice, Roman Torchwick and his gang took over the industrial sector of the kingdom in the fallout. He rules over the sector like a dictator, hoarding resources he gets through trade of metal for himself and his men while the average citizens under his "authority" are left to starve, gamble, or eat vermin to survive.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Hobo with a Shotgun, Hope Town is portrayed as a Wretched Hive where every manner of horrible acts run wild and free under the thumb of the Drake and his sons, a crime family who has every cop paid off to let them get away with every horrible deed imaginable in public and duly punish anyone who so much as says anything bad about them. They are so cartoonishly evil, their Establishing Character Moment involved the Drake brutally killing his own brother in broad daylight in front of civilians just to make an example out of him.
  • District 13: In the walled-off crime-ridden districts of Paris, the major gangs function as de facto feudal overlords, as the government has all but given up on trying to police the area. For instance, they're perfectly capable of kidnapping the protagonist's sister from her job as a supermarket clerk with nobody batting an eye.
  • The Crow (1994): Top Dollar's crime syndicate regularly engages in arson around Detroit and has the citizens living in those buildings robbed, brutalized, and murdered on a regular basis. At a conference, he suggests that he and his fellow gangsters should just forget about actually profiting from their crimes and instead burn the entire city to the ground for shits and giggles.
  • The Axe Gang in Kung Fu Hustle rule all of Shanghai and spend an awful lot of time, energy and resources to snuff out any sign of dissonance. They were able to spook the entire Shanghai Police Department and clear out the streets just to kill the Crocodile Gang (which has been reduced to just four guys and the boss' defenseless wife after the Axe Gang recruited former Crocodiles), they send an army of goons to ransack the impoverished Pig Sty Alley when two of their lowest goons fail to intimidate them, they hire two of the most deadly (and expensive) assassins in the world when three of their tenants manage to fend them off, then they break out the Beast - who was being held at a government facility for being the deadliest man on Earth - when that fails.

  • The Night's Dawn Trilogy. The B-7 Security Council which secretly governs Earth also controls the organised crime groups so they can rule from above and below, and also have a pretext to deport people from their overpopulated planet by increasing the crime rate. It's mentioned that it's not the first time a government tried this strategy, but they make it work by using bitek technology to directly control the crime bosses to ensure they don't get out of line.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blake's 7: In "Shadow", Blake tries to recruit the help of the powerful organised crime group Terra Nostra in his fight against the oppressive Terran Federation, only to discover that the Federation runs that as well.
  • Blue Bloods: The Bitterman Housing Projects , from season 3's final two episodes The Bitter End and This Way Out, has been turned into a hellhole with the residents hounded and terrorized by the vicious Los Lordes Gang, led by the monstrous Santana. Things have become so bad that one young mother kills herself and her baby to escape. Following the police refusing to drop the investigation, Santana declares war on them as if they were only another gang, arranging multiple ambushes including one that kills Jamie Reagan's partner Vinny Cruz (himself a kid from the projects), and tricking a mentally ill kid into shooting and paralyzing the Mayor during a town hall meeting. With some additional witnesses flipped, the police are able to orchestrate a massive raid of the complex to flush out the Los Lordes.
  • Kidou Keiji Jiban: Criminal Syndicate Bioron have more in common with a terrorist organization than a criminal organization. Most episodes see them sending out Bionoids to carry out attacks in the name of their goal of taking over Japan.
  • The Space Crime Organization Makuu in Space Sheriff Gavan are a group of space mobsters who have plundered and terrorized planets across the cosmos, with their goal being to turn the planets they invade into places filled with crime.
  • Their successors in Space Sheriff Sharivan, the Space Crime Syndicate Madou, are basically The Empire and the aim of most of the crimes they commit is to aid them in their conquest of the universe.

    Video Games 
  • The Regulators in Fallout are a vicious gang serving as the de-facto police force of the town of Adytum, manipulating the town's mayor into giving them free rein as they turn it into a slave labor camp to expropriate its industrial wealth for themselves. They even went so far as to brutally murder the mayor's son as part of a False Flag Operation against a harmless gang of survivalists called the Blades to legitimize their own authority.
  • The Santa Blanca Cartel in Ghost Recon Wildlands rule Bolivia through an autocratic Shadow Government, have turned the entire country into a narco-state, and their leader El SueƱo is the undisputed leader of the nation even if he's not even the official head of state. In the bad ending, CIA agent Bowman even states that she believes that in enough time, he could take over for real as an actual dictator.
  • After Empire City becomes quarantined when the Ray Sphere explodes in Infamous, the three different sections of the city are soon overrun by gangs trying to take over the now lawless metropolis. The Neon District is swarmed by the Reapers, who were allegedly drug-dealers and petty criminals before being revealed to just be regular citizens Brainwashed and Crazy by the conduit Sasha. The Warren District is taken over the Dustmen, Empire City's homeless population who have been gathered under the telekinetic Alden Tate. While not a gang, the First Sons are an Ancient Conspiracy organization who take over the Historic District similar to the other gangs under the rule of their leader Kessler who manipulated everything since before the beginning in order to mold Cole MacGrath into the perfect hero.
  • Rave Heart: The Star-Raiders are a group of Space Pirates that rule over Planet Kardel with an iron fist while running a drug ring.

    Real Life 
  • Many drug cartels act like this, being responsible for numerous killings, kidnappings, and trafficking of civilians, mainly Mexican civilians, though foreigners and government agents (both from Mexico and USA) can suffer this fate as well. They also have experience in the slave trade, which involves the kidnapping of women and children to be sold by other crime syndicates with questionable ethics.
    • The Colombian Medellin Cartel of Pablo Escobar was so powerful that they openly attacked the government. In Escobar's case, assassinating a Presidential candidate, the Attorney General, ordering numerous terrorist bombings to coerce the state into stopping their campaign against him, even one by the Presidential Palace plus of multiple airplanes, a huge number of cops- an open bounty was put on them in Medellin- and judges who ordered cartel members extradited to the US). He was so powerful, even with this, at first they cut a deal where he got to live in a penthouse "prison" run by his men. Only when it turned out his men had murdered multiple people on the premises and burned their bodies did the government crack down, while Escobar still escaped via a tunnel he had ready, before being killed in a shootout with the cops.
    • Certain Mexican states (primarily Sinaloa, Durango, Coahuila, and Chihuahua) are notorious for being literal "cartel territory". As in, they are capable of greater and more certain violence than the local/state/federal government, and so their orders are obeyed with more alacrity. There's stories of cartel militias occupying towns, maintaining road blocks and checkpoints, taxing businesses regardless of their legality or size, and outright destroying entire settlements for "disobedience". They also spend huge sums subsidizing education, social services, infrastructure and public health to buy loyalty, but many factions (such as Los Zetas) operate more through overwhelming violence and terror.
  • Some Third World countries let the gangsters run their prisons, only leaving the wardens with ensuring nobody escapes. In some cases, it results in gang-less or foreign inmates getting extorted, enslaved and sometimes murdered.
  • Entire countries have been described as "narco-states" or "mafia states" when their governments are perceived as being far too friendly with the gangster element, and not just ones aligned with the drug cartels. After the United states diplomatic cables leak in 2010, it came to light that it viewed the New Russia under Vladimir Putin as "a corrupt, autocratic kleptocracy centred on the leadership of Vladimir Putin, in which officials, oligarchs and organised crime are bound together to create a 'virtual mafia state'."