Generic Ethnic Crime Gang

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
"The only native American criminal class is politicians."

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 "homogenous" side of the scale.

Examples of Generic Ethnic Crime Gang include:

The most common types of gangs are:

Other ethnic gangs are:

Black Gangsters

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.

East Asian and Southeast Asian gangsters

  • Grand Theft Auto has the Da Nang Boys (Vietnamese gangsters), and Korean mobs, in addition to the Triad.
  • Marrying The Mafia features a Korean mob family.
  • Kiryu Kazuma fights Korean gangsters in Yakuza 2.
  • The protagonist in The Perfect Weapon fights a Korean mob.
  • The Hmong Gang-Bangers from Gran Torino.
  • Various versions of this appear in Magnum, P.I.; there are Chinese ones, Japanese ones, and Southeast Asian ones. Not inappropriate as Hawaii has long had a large Asian population and Honolulu is a port for illegal as well as legal goods and services.

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 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.

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 Five of CSI New York has Stella Bonasera investigating a Greek antiquities smuggling gang.
  • Soap Opera Days of Our Lives. In the Backstory, Victor Kiriakis was originally a member of a Sicilian Mafia-style Greek crime family in his home town of Nafplion, Greece.
  • 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". He's actually Turkish (but of Greek heritage), 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.

Jewish Gangsters

These guys are usually involved with the Italian Mafia and based on Bugsy Siegel or Meyer Lansky. More modern ones will typically be Israelis—sometimes presented as Ruthless Foreign Gangsters—and always portrayed as some form of terrifying badass and involved in some way with the Mossad. Historically, the Jewish Mob was a dominant force in the brief period between when White America started seeing Irishmen as "white" and the rise of the more numerous Italian Mob. During that period, they were involved in the regularization and "professionalization" of organized crime in the US, with the establishment of The Commission (the Italian-American Mafia's coordination/dispute-resolution body) and Murder, Inc. (organized, professional hitmen) being the brainchildren of Jewish mobsters (the Commission and Murder, Inc.'s parent organization, the National Crime Syndicate were specifically Lansky's ideas).

  • Bugsy Siegel himself was played by Warren Beatty in the semi-biographical film Bugsy.
  • Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel and Arnold Rothstein appear in Boardwalk Empire, along with other, fictional Jewish Gangsters such as Manny Horvitz. The show largely averts this trope, though, as the generals consider personal loyalty more important than ethnicity.
  • Moe Greene from The Godfather is based on Siegel.
  • Meyer Lansky expies:
  • Sam "Ace" Rothstien (also played by Robert De Niro) of Casino
  • In The West Wing, Toby's father was a former hitman for the real Murder Incorporated, a Jewish crime syndicate from the 20's to the 40's that (as noted) did a lot of contract work for the Italian Mafia.
  • The Rabbi and co in Lucky Number Slevin. Complete with ex-Mossad bodyguards.
  • Isaac's gang in Grand Theft Auto IV.
  • The first arc of DC Comics book Caper by Judd Winick was about two brothers in the Jewish Mafia in turn of the century San Fransisco.
  • Frankie "Four Fingers" and Uncle Avi's gang in Snatch, although neither actor playing them is actually Jewish (they're played by Puerto Rican Benicio del Toro and Italian-American Dennis Farina, respectively).
  • Herman "Hesh" Rabkin in The Sopranos, who was strongly based on the real Jewish Gangster and record-label owner Morris Levy.
  • Icepick in Magnum, P.I. is a semi-retired gangster whose real name is Francis Hofsteader.
  • Zalmie Belinksy in American Pop.
  • The Cohen Crime Syndicate in L.A. Noire.
  • Nino in Drive is a Jewish gangster who sets the events of the film in action with his plan to rip off the East Coast Mob, his associate Bernie is played by a Jewish actor and is heavily implied to be Jewish as well.

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.

Film

Video Games

Gangsters with obscure ethnicities

Live-Action TV

  • 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.

Video Games

  • The Tsoo from City of Heroes are ethnically Hmong -- a Southeast Asian people who live mainly in Southern China, Vietnam and Laos.

Gangsters with fictional ethnicities

  • 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).
    • The stoicism, use of tattoos to indicate rank and status, strong family ties, and preference toward edged/bladed weapons looks a lot like the Japanese yakuza. The ha'la'tha look like an amalgamation of every stereotype about organized crime ever invoked in the media.
    • The Ha'la'tha's transition from freedom-fighting organization to organized crime is reminiscent of the Irish mob's roots in "defense societies" in the old country.
  • 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."

  • Star Wars gives us the Hutts.
  • 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 Assassin's and the Thief's guilds in Tredroy in Banestorm. They control the crime in town within their respective categories. They are given an ambiguous recognition by the town authorities: after a thief is captured and flogged(or whatever) he is dumped in the Thief's Guild's turf at night. If he was a dues-paying member they will bring him back to his own associates. If not they will deal with matters appropriately.
    • At one time long gone by when the town of Tredroy was under siege the Assassins made an alliance with the government and well, began assassinating people.
  • Erewhon in Honor Harrington is run by the descendants of gangsters. More specifically they used a planet as a money laundering center and it evolved into a fairly ordinary nation. Traces of its origin still remain but the old gangsters are more like a fairly informal but more or less civilized aristocracy; about as civilized as any other at least. One trace remaining is that in interstellar Realpolitik they are more likely to use traditional gangster methods (such as bribery, subversion, and manipulation) to outright Gunboat Diplomacy.
    • The Scrags are descendant from a Slavic-Supremist warrior cult of eugenic "superbeings". They always have as leader the fiercest and strongest among them. Effectively they are human space orcs.