In the original Star Wars trilogy, there isn't much mention of the galaxy's widespread criminal organizations outside of Lando Calrissian's operation in The Empire Strikes Back and the depiction of Jabba the Hutt's enterprise in Return of the Jedi. Even with those depictions, there isn't a lot of exposition regarding their place in the galaxy, so anyone who watched those movies was left wondering about crime in the Star Wars galaxy.
It wasn't until Solo: A Star Wars Story that moviegoing fans got a chance to really see what a criminal organization was all about, though it was mostly limited to the Crimson Dawn. Of course, anyone who's seen Star Wars: The Clone Wars and read any of the many comics published by Marvel following the Disney acquisition of Star Wars knows a lot about the goings-on of criminal organizations in the Star Wars universe, including Darth Maul's criminal empire, the Black Sun, and the Star Wars underworld.
This list covers the biggest criminal enterprises spread across the Star Wars galaxy, as taken from the comics, tie-in novels, cartoons, and films. Everything presented below is from Star Wars canon, so no Legends material here unless otherwise noted. Take a look down below, and be sure to upvote any of the interesting things you probably didn't know about criminals in Star Wars to see which one rises to the top!
Crimson Dawn Hosted An Auction For Han Solo After He Was Encased In CarbonitePhoto: Marvel Comics
After Boba Fett took Han Solo's frozen body from Cloud City at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, it didn't go directly to Jabba's palace on Tatooine. Agents of the Crimson Dawn managed to get their hands on the carbonite form of Solo, leaving Qi'ra to offer him up for auction. This event occurred before the events of Return of the Jedi, and it wasn't a simple affair - pretty much every seedy element in the galaxy showed up to claim the prize.
This included all of the criminal organizations listed here, but also many more interested parties. The Galactic Empire was interested in recovering Han Solo from Crimson Dawn, but it wasn't exactly ready to get into a bidding war. Darth Vader crashed the party, insisting that ownership of Han Solo fell to the Empire. When Qi'ra demanded he fork over a million credits to her, implying that the Empire had a habit of welching on its debts, Vader ignited his lightsaber. Qi'ra put up a fight, which impressed Vader enough that he didn't end her.Interesting fact?
The Pykes Are Responsible For The Death Of Sifo-Dyas
The Pyke Syndicate may have been all about shipping and selling spice across the galaxy, but it occasionally dipped into galactic affairs. One of its most destructive forays into the wider goings-on of the galaxy came via the Pykes' capture, torture, and execution of Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas. The Jedi, who ordered the creation of the Clone Army, was sent by then-Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum to engage with the Pykes over their dominance of the spice trade.
Instead of working with the Jedi emissary, the Pykes acted on the behest of Darth Tyranus, otherwise known as Count Dooku. The leader of the Separatist movement had the Pykes capture, torture, and kill Sifo-Dyas. To protect themselves, they took the Jedi Master's aide, Silman, hostage to guarantee their safety from both the Jedi Order and Darth Tyranus. This event didn't negatively affect the Pyke Syndicate, as it continued to thrive for some time.Interesting fact?
The Pyke Syndicate Managed The Flow Of Spice Throughout The GalaxyPhoto: Fantasy Flight Games
The Pyke Syndicate played a significant role in spreading spice throughout the galaxy. Spice is one of the most addictive substances in the Star Wars galaxy. It was mined on the planet Kessel by slaves overseen by the Pyke Syndicate. It could be found on other planets, including Naboo's moons and Ryloth, where a variation called ryll was exclusively mined. For the most part, spice is recreational, but there are some scientific applications for which the substance can be used.
The Pyke Syndicate was a dealership that operated within the Spice Cartel, with its operations centered on its home world of Oba Diah. The Pyke Syndicate wasn't as large as some of the other criminal organizations featured on this list, but because it managed the flow of spice throughout the galaxy, it held a great deal of power and influence. Like other organizations on this list, the Pyke Syndicate managed to expand its enterprise during to the Age of the Empire, which had no problem with its operation.
When the Empire fell and was replaced by the New Republic, the Pyke Syndicate's power and influence faded substantially. The organization was still powerful but a shadow of its former self. It continued operating for decades after the Battle of Endor, though at a smaller capacity. It lost an entire fleet of its vessels when the mercenary Ledesmar ran off with them, furthering weakening the Pyke Syndicate's control of the spice trade.Interesting fact?
Black Sun Gained Prominence During The Clone Wars Due To A Lack Of Jedi Oversight
Black Sun was one of the largest criminal syndicates operating throughout the Star Wars galaxy during the height of the Galactic Republic. The organization had been policed, in a manner of speaking, by the Jedi Order for quite some time, but that changed during the Clone Wars. The ongoing galactic conflict captured the Jedi Order's attention, leaving it incapable of covering organizations like Black Sun.
Essentially, the war took all the Jedi Order's attention and resources, leaving Black Sun to thrive. Without the oversight of the Jedi, Black Sun grew considerably. The syndicate maintained permanent bases on Ord Mantell and Mustafar. It also became large enough to include most of the Falleen, whose nobles also ran the syndicate. When the Galactic Republic fell and became the Galactic Empire, Black Sun forged a new alliance with the Imperial government.
Instead of falling prey to Imperial crimefighting, Black Sun grew in power and began providing security to the Outer Rim. The syndicate took ownership of this area of the galaxy and prospered. It continued to exist after the fall of the Empire and took part in an auction of the carbonite-encased body of Han Solo. When the New Republic was established, Black Sun continued operating in the Outer Rim, as the new government was unable to stop it, or provide its own security for the region.Interesting fact?