15 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Criminals In 'Star Wars'
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!
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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.
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Darth Maul Founded The Shadow Collective As A Rival Sith Order During The Clone Wars
During the Clone Wars, Darth Maul created the Shadow Collective as a rival Sith Order meant to thwart the plans of Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Sidious. Maul created the Shadow Collective at the request of Mother Talzin, and the goal of the organization was to establish a powerful place in the galaxy to rival that of the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Essentially, it was Darth Maul's goal to take over the galaxy, which directly opposed his former master's goal of doing the same.
The Shadow Collective was a criminal alliance that brought together the forces of the Nightbrothers, the Death Watch, the Pyke Syndicate, the Hutt Clan, and Black Sun, so it wasn't a minor affair. Using the Collective and his own power, he managed to take over Mandalore to control all of its subordinate systems. Still, he ran into problems when the Hutts left the Shadow Collective. When he lost Mandalore, the Shadow Collective largely disappeared. However, he managed to retain considerable power by incorporating elements of Black Sun and the Pykes into Crimson Dawn, which he took over and led for some time.
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The Hutt Cartel Is More Than Just A Crime Organization - It’s A Separate Government
Of all the criminal organizations spread throughout the galaxy, none were as feared or as large as the Hutt Cartel. The Hutts created their organization as a coalition of Hutt crime families, and they dominated for years. The Hutts ruled a region of space called "Hutt Space," which borders the Mid Rim and Outer Rim Territories. Their territory was so massive, it became an established government, which was overseen by the Grand Hutt Council.
At the height of the Galactic Republic, the Hutt Cartel was easily one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the galaxy. It controlled several vital hyperspace lanes, affording it a great deal of power over the government and its citizens. The Clone Wars offered an opportunity for the Hutts to grow. Seizing on the chaos spreading across the galaxy, the Hutts expanded their influence and territory.
When the Imperial government came along, the Hutts retained control of their space by working with the Empire. That alliance saw the organization continue to thrive, but things didn't go well for the Hutts when the Empire fell. Once Jabba Desilijic Tiure (otherwise known as Jabba the Hutt) was dead, the Hutt Cartel's influence waned. Additionally, the New Republic government sought to curtail the Hutts' control over vast regions of space, further diminishing their criminal control of the galaxy.
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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.
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There Was Once A Group Of Criminal Organizations Known As The Five SyndicatesPhoto: Marvel Comics
With so many influential criminal organizations operating throughout the galaxy, there's a good chance for them to come into contact with one another. This could have resulted in some clashes, but there was a way around that. The most powerful criminal groups in the galaxy came together to form the Five Syndicates. This included the Crimson Dawn, Black Sun, the Hutt Clan, Pyke Syndicate, and the Crymorah Syndicate.
For the most part, the Five Syndicates operated peacefully across the galaxy, though this was primarily due to their strictly guarded borders. Of course, there were still clashes between the organizations from time to time, and these could be incredibly deadly, as the stakes were often high. While the Hutt Clan was considerably powerful, during the time of the Empire, Crimson Dawn was the largest and most powerful of the Five Syndicates.
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The Droid Gotra Operated Against The Galactic Empire While Fighting For Droid Rights
The Clone Wars saw a variety of droids fight against the Galactic Republic's army of clone troopers, but when that conflict ended, it didn't go well for the droids. Many were destroyed, while others were repurposed. A small group of battle droids came together to form the Droid Gotra. The organization consisted primarily of droids that had been abandoned following their service in the Clone Wars, and they had an ax to grind with the Galactic Empire.
As a result, the Droid Gotra established a criminal organization in the industrial complex found in the bowels of Coruscant, the seat of the Galactic Imperial government. Their primary interest was to fight for droid emancipation, but they also served as hired guns for other criminal organizations, including the Crymorah Syndicate. When the Galactic Empire fell, the Droid Gotra continued to operate, with the New Republic government failing to stop their operations, which by that time extended to the rim territories.