Organized Crime in Japan, China, Russia, and Mexico


The countries that experience the strongest organized crime groups include the United States of America, Mexico, Canada, China, Japan, Turkey, Italy and Russia. In the United States together with Canada, up to the recent times, the American Mafia dominated organized crime. The Mafia worked out a structure of negotiation and the territorial division of the United States and Canada into family fiefs in the year 1931. This came about as a result of a gory fight among the gangs for national domination. The main activities of this group include dealing drugs, illegal gambling, loan sharking, stock and financial fraud, union control and corruption, and taking over lawful businesses. So far, the Mafia has been weakened by the efforts of the FBI, police forces, and the Drug Enforcement Agency. However, organized groups from other countries such as Russia, Latin America, and the countries in East Asia have found their way into the United States and engage in the criminal activities formerly carried out by the mafia (Sullivan, 1996).


In Mexico, organized crime is dominated by four cartels which are consolidating. The cartels originated from the gangs of Mexico that were organized by the drug cartels of Colombia to assist in smuggling cocaine into the United States of America. Over time, these gangsters from Mexico became so rich and powerful due to their engagement in these activities and came to the same level as those who sponsored them, that is, the gangsters from Colombia. These cartels are involved in the smuggling of drugs e.g. marijuana. They do associate with the Chinese Triads in smuggling in the United States many illegal Chinese migrants. These gangs have bribed the politicians, judges, union officials, and the police and engage in several murders for threats and profit (Sullivan, 1996). For quite a number of years, the Juarez cartel has taken control of the drug traffic in El Paso and Texas. The authorities have a belief that this cartel is the one responsible for over 300 disappearances that are related to drugs in Mexico and over 120 homicides that are related to drugs in El Paso (Ward, Johnetta M.; Jason D. Miller, 2002).


In China, the Triads are the most famous group of organized crime (Hays, 2008). These Triads have been there for a very long time. This group is the biggest group of organized crime relationships in the world and has more than 250,000 members (Hays, 2008). The group’s activities include loan sharking, vehicle theft, among others. On the other hand, the Triads do also take part in legal activities ranging from the arrangement of marriages to settlement of commercial disagreements. This engagement in legal activities has enabled the Triads to strongly establish themselves in Chinese society making it quite difficult to clear them away. It is projected that in the course of this century, the Triads could turn out to be the most dangerous group of organized crime.


In Japan, the most powerful organized crime group is known by the name Boryokudan or the Yakuza. It has approximately 60,000 members. This group has derived benefits from an anti-communist coalition with the Japanese National police that was established just after World War I. This group concentrates on the production of amphetamines, they also engage in such activities as financial and real estate fraud, loan sharking, protection, illegal gambling, prostitution, and arms trafficking. They also carry out their activities in other countries like Hawaii, South Korea, and Australia.


In Russia, there is a group of the organized group known as the Mafiya which has extended its operations into parts of Europe and North America. Their activities include car theft, money laundering, raising poppies in Asia, credit theft, slavery, murder for hire, and dealing in heroin. They have engaged in these activities from the time the Soviet Union collapsed. They have attempted to steal and sell nuclear material and this has turned to make them be a major threat to the world.

Comparing and contrasting between organized crime groups in Russia, China, Japan and Mexico and their United States of America counterparts

China and United States organized crime

According to Sorte (2007), the backgrounds of the Chinese triads and the Sicilian Mafia are similar. They both came into existence with an objective to offer protection to their homelands from foreign power and domination. In these groups, the members had to undergo initiation ceremonies. This commonness between them could bring about their understanding of each other in New York and the possibility of colluding. On the other hand, these groups differ in some aspects. For instance, the Italians are well accustomed to the mainstream of America, and consequently, they have wider control and are less visible. On the contrary, the Chinese are more regional and maintain a hold on their ethnicity and their operations do not extend beyond their community. The authorities find it much difficult to deal with the conspiracy of the Triads in comparison with the Cosa Nostra (American mafia). As time goes by, the American Triads could expand more as they get more assimilated.

The Russian organized crime groups and their American counterparts

The American mafia and the Russian Mafiya have much in common but still are not similar in other ways. The two groups give out goods and services that make them fit in the definition of a criminal group. The two groups deal in both criminal and legal activities. The American Mafia and the Russian Mafiya carry out their entire commercial activities through face-to-face relations. On the other hand, as much as the two groups may look similar in terms of the activities they engage in, the Russian Mafiya are more aggressive than the American mafia. More so, the members of the Russian Mafia are much educated and have much knowledge in technical know-how, and often have their background in urban centers. On the other hand, the Italians who were basically in a single region originated from generations of farmers and uneducated laborers. In the United States of America, there has been a response by the public to crimes committed by the mafia by calling upon the government to handle this case. But on the other hand, the people of Russia have not been able to call upon the government to act for the reason that the government officials are the main contributors to this group and corruption (Lanka B., 1999)

The Japanese organized crime groups and their American counterparts

One similarity between the American Mafia and the Yakuza is that they were both established around absolute loyalty and well-structured leadership offering protection to the family. The same way the American mafia has the leadership of the Godfathers, the Yakuza has a leadership position Known as Oyabun and below this leader, there are underbosses. The division of power between the old and young emerges as the key difference in their organizational structures. The Yakuza members, unlike the American mafia, have their skins tattooed as a symbol of strength and clan identity.

Mexican organized crime groups and their American counterparts

According to Raufer (2002), in Mexico, the organized crime is dominated by the criminal cartels. These cartels are not like the American Mafia as they do lack prolonged existence. Establishing a leadership that can be passed from one generation to the next generation is crucial for criminal groups. The groups have similarities one of them being that they both deal in drugs.


As it has been discussed, dangerous and very powerful organized groups do exist. The activities they do engage in are mostly criminal and bring about much harm to society. As it has been seen, some of these groups are so much established, for instance, the triads of China, and make it very hard for the authorities to clear them. Nations all over the world should work jointly in order to clear off these groups. The measures the American authorities have taken to weaken the American mafia should also be extended to other nations.

Reference List

Hays, J. (2008). Triads and organized crime in China. Jeffrey Hays. Web.

Lanka, B. (1999). The Russian Mafia. Web.

Raufer, X. (2002). Organized crime 1995 – 2002: mafias, cartels and “gangsters”. Unpublished. Web.

Sorte, L. M. (2007). The phenomenon of the Chinese Triads. PLR International. Web.

Sullivan, B. (1996) International organized crime: A growing national security threat. Institute for National Strategic Studies. Web.

Ward, Johnetta M.; Jason D. Miller (2002). Organized Crime. Macmillan Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. The Gale Group Inc. Web.

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