Organized crime takes many forms - from the gangsters of prohibition era America, to the drug cartels of Mexico, and even to the bikers of Finland. Usually crime organizations hum along under the surface of society, terrorizing those who get in their way, but generally flying under the radar. But major events - such as mass murders - can shine a spotlight on organized crime and let the rest of the world see how truly ruthless some of these organizations are.
The problem with organized crime is that everyone wants to be the head honcho, and no one wants to play on the same team. That’s why there are so many mafia mass murders. In order to place themselves at the top of the organization chart, gangs have to take out another gang’s squad, and then the cycle begins again. Some of the mass murders that you may have heard about come from rival gangs, but there are plenty of tragedies where hundreds of innocent people have their lives taken over something as trivial as who’s the highest on the totem pole.
Some of the most violent and gruesome massacres belong to the cartel mass murders that seem to come with higher frequency every year. Gangs like MS-13, and Los Zetas put the Hell’s Angels to shame when it comes to killing people to make a point. You’ll see on this list of massacres that excessive mob hits and extreme group murders know no international bounds, and that if the bad guys want to kill someone, they’ll find a way to do it.
The Saint Valentine's Day Massacre Sets the Standard for Gang Violence
At 10:30 in the morning on February 14, 1929, five members of George "Bugs" Moran's North Side Gang, along with the gang's bookkeeper and one of Moran's civilian friends, were gunned down by four men - two of whom were dressed like uniformed policemen. The massacre was allegedly planned by Al Capone in an attempt to wipe Moran out for good.
Moran, who was meant to be at the warehouse where the massacre happened, left his hotel late and arrived after the police were already on the scene. Only one man, Frank Gusenberg, made it out of the warehouse alive, but he died three hours later after stabilizing in a local hospital and refusing to name his killers.
The First Massacre of San Fernando Ends with Almost 100 Deaths
In 2010, the Zetas drug cartel ambushed vehicles carrying 72 immigrants traveling through Mexico to the United States and killed them all, one by one, by shooting them in the back of the head while others watched.
One man from Ecuador survived - he was shot in the neck and faked death long enough until the cartel cleared out. After questioning he revealed that the Zetas offered their victims the choice of paying a ransom for their lives, or working as hitmen for the gang. When the immigrants balked they were murdered immediately.
The Shootout at Twin Peaks Where 9 Bikers Died
What was meant to be a regularly scheduled meeting about political rights for motorcyclists at a restaurant in Waco, Texas turned into a Russ Meyer movie when members of the Bandidos and Cossacks motorcycle gangs started shooting at each other over a parking spot. Apparently someone's foot was run over in the spot and tempers running high.
When the cops showed up with a SWAT team, the gangs switched from shooting at each other to shooting at the police, turning this 2015 event into the bloodiest event in Waco since the Branch Davidian fire in the early '90s. After arresting around 170 people, police confiscated everything from guns to chains, brass knuckles, knives, clubs, and batons.
Almost No One Survived the 2011 Monterrey Casino Attack
On August 25, 2011, members of Los Zetas drug cartel descended from a series of vehicles and surrounded the Grupo Royale Casino in Monterrey, Mexico. They quietly stormed the casino's main entrance, opened fire on the gamblers, and then doused the casino entrances with gasoline and started a fire that trapped everyone inside.
Naturally, the gamblers panicked and a riot broke out in the casino. People were trampled on by those who were trying to escape, and anyone who hid in the bathrooms later died of smoke inhalation. The final body count from the authorities was 52 deaths. According to the perpetrators, the attack was intended to send a message to the owner of the casino for failing to pay an extortion.
Only Innocents Died in the Golden Dragon Massacre
Most people don't think of San Francisco when they think of gang warfare, but on September 4, 1977, five innocent people were killed and 11 were injured after five members of the Joe Boys attempted to gun down members of the Wah Ching, a rival Chinatown gang who were eating at the Golden Dragon restaurant.
According to police, the assassination attempt was retaliation for the death of Felix Huey, a 16-year-old Joe Boys member who was killed in a shootout with the Wah Ching. In the trial that followed, one of the members of the gang explained that they were supposed to fire a single warning shot into the ceiling so everyone who wasn't a gang member would get on the floor and remain safe. Instead, they just randomly opened fire and missed every member of the Wah Ching that they were trying to kill.
The Massacre of Ciudad Victoria Where Even the Dog Was Killed
In July 2016, 15 people and at least one dog were gunned down in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, when gunmen entered a home in the López Mateos neighborhood and killed 11 members of the same family. Less than an hour later, three more people were killed and four others wounded. A third attack happened shortly thereafter where a young man was killed by the same gang. The Northeast Cartel left a message stating that the murders would continue to be a presence in the region.
The Pike County Ohio Slaying Exposes a Crime Ring in a Small Town
On April 22, 2016, the execution-style slayings of eight people in four homes in Pike County, Ohio sent the small community into a tailspin when it was discovered that the murders were likely perpetrated by an unknown organized crime family.
After discovering the bodies, authorities were shocked to find an indoor grow house where hundreds of marijuana plants were growing and chickens were being bred for cockfighting. The organized crime theory gained more traction after a couple of Kentucky-based drug dealers were found murdered in a similar manner just a few months later. All in all, ten people have been killed in connection with this crime so far.
The 2008 Morelia Grenade Attacks Will Make You Fear Crowds
On September 15, 2008, during a Mexican Independence Day celebration, at least 8 people were killed, and over 100 were injured when members of either Los Zetas or La Familia Michoacana threw at least three grenades into the middle of a crowd of thousands who were partying in Plaza Melchor Ocampo. Both gangs blamed each other for the attack, but in the end the Mexican authorities arrested three members of Los Zetas.