By and in no particular order...
The Five Families (New York, U.S.)
Boss: Vincent Basciano, Nicholas Corozzo, Carmine Persico, Daniel Leo, Vittorio Amuso
The five mafia crime families out of New York -- Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese, and Lucchese -- have controlled much of organized crime in the U.S. since the 1930s, but these days they aren’t remotely what they used to be, thanks to an extended and devoted effort on the part of law enforcement to shut them down. Of the five, the Genovese family is the largest and most powerful. The U.S. "La Cosa Nostra" was founded by the notorious Lucky Luciano, himself a member of the Sicilian mafia who came to the U.S. in the 1920s, and brought much of the mafia’s structures and practices with him.
United Bamboo (Taiwan)
Believed to be Taiwan’s top triad, with as many as 10,000 members, United Bamboo operates according to a decidedly old-school code of ethics that stresses unity among members as well as “harmony with the people.”
Although they have repeatedly denied it, United Bamboo is believed to be entrenched in drug trafficking, and their sphere of influence stretches into the KMT, Taiwan’s ruling political party, as well as throughout Asia, the Pacific, Europe, and the Americas. Unlike other syndicates, United Bamboo is not overseen by a single boss, but rather has a more horizontal structure to its hierarchy.
Dai Huen Jai (China)
The Dai Huen Jai are a curious product of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution; on Mao’s death much of the paramilitary Red Guard were sent to “re-education” camps, where they suffered horrendous abuse and emerged even more corrupt than when they went in. Unlike most organized crime syndicates, the Dai Heun Jai seems to lack formal organization; in fact, they’ve been compared to men meeting up for a pickup basketball game. The members are as mysterious as they are notorious, and are believed to be spread in loose confederations throughout Asia, the Americas and Australia.
Sicilian Mafia (Sicily)
Boss: Matteo Messina Denaro (reputed)
Organized by territory and featuring as many as 100 families, the Sicilian mafia dates back to the middle of the 19th century, but didn’t assume its criminal identity until the early part of the 20th century. When Lucky Luciano exported the mafia to the U.S. in the 1930s, their criminal base expanded exponentially, and even today they’re believed to have as many as 2,500 American affiliates.
In Sicily, they came to power and wealth through control of building contracts and soon became a major player in heroin and gun trafficking. Although today they have been challenged by other Italian syndicates, the assassinations of two Italian magistrates in the 1990s reminded everyone that the Sicilian mafia is still a force to be reckoned with.
14K (Hong Kong, China)
The 14K is one of the largest traditional triads in Hong Kong, and in the 1990s, it was regarded as the largest in the world until a high-profile criminal trial in Portugal brought down the alleged head of a 14K cell. The organization is believed to have spread into other parts of Asia and to have established itself in a number of major North American cities. No criminal activity seems to be beneath them, as it has been accused of virtually everything under the sun.
D-Company (India and the United Arab Emirates)
Boss: Dawood Ibrahim
D-Company’s criminal empire is lead by Dawood Ibrahim, an internationally wanted man whose activities go from extortion up to alleged terrorist acts that include the 1993 Bombay bombings, which killed 257 people and injured over 700. Ibrahim has celebrity status in the region, having worked his way into the Bollywood film industry, both socially and professionally. According to the U.S. Treasury, Ibrahim has ties to al-Qaida and the Taliban, and is believed to be hiding out in Pakistan. It is also believed that he’s had plastic surgery to change his appearance, although there’s little he can do about his height of 5’4”.
'Ndrangheta (Calabria/Southern Italy)
Boss: Horizontal hierarchy
At 10,000 members and growing, and with annual revenues in the tens of billions of dollars, Italy’s ‘Ndrangheta has emerged as the country’s most powerful cocaine trafficking operation and a major European supplier according to a report released by the Italian parliament's anti-mafia commission.
Their success is likened to fast food restaurants in how they offer “the identical, recognizable, reliable brand, and the same criminal product.” They maintain loyalty through family ties and a lack of centralized leadership, giving them a leg up on the likes of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra’s more vulnerable hierarchy.
Yamaguchi-gumi (Kobe, Japan)
Boss: Shinobu Tsukasa (real name: Kenichi Shinoda)
The Kobe-based Yamaguchi-gumi dates back to 1915, but owes its current status as Japan’s largest and most powerful yakuza (criminal syndicate) to ultra-violent mastermind Kazuo Taoka, the organization’s longtime oyabun. In fact, his death in 1981 was sufficiently profound to shake the group’s foundations.
Today, the Yamaguchi-gumi’s membership is estimated at around 40,000 and is led by its sixth don, the diplomatic -- but no less violent -- Shinobu Tsukasa, who took over in 2005. Tsukasa is attempting to lead the organization north toward Tokyo, despite his imprisonment for possessing a firearm
Solntsevskaya bratva (Moscow, Russia)
Boss: Sergei Mikhailov
Former FBI Special Agent Bob Levinson called the Russian mafia “the most dangerous people on earth,” a terrifying notion when you consider that their ranks may be as many as 300,000 strong, and spread across 450 groups.
Chief among them is Moscow-based Solntsevskaya bratva, an extraordinarily wealthy and ruthless syndicate reputedly run by its founder, Sergei Mikhailov, a man both hardened by years in the gulags and especially connected thanks to the criminals he met there, which include reputed don Semion Mogilevich, among others.
Sinaloa Cartel (Mexico)
Boss: Joaquín Guzmán Loera
The Sinaloa Cartel (Spanish: Cártel de Sinaloa or CDS) is a drug-trafficking, money laundering and organized crime syndicate based in the city of Culiacán, Sinaloa, with operations in the Mexican states of Baja California, Durango, Sonora and Chihuahua. The cartel is also known as the Guzmán-Loera Organization and the Pacific Cartel, the latter due to the coast of Mexico from which it originated. The cartel has also been called the Federation and the Blood Alliance. The 'Federation' was partially splintered when the Beltrán-Leyva brothers broke apart from the Sinaloa Cartel.
The United States Intelligence Community considers the Sinaloa Cartel "the most powerful drug trafficking organization in the world" and in 2011, the Los Angeles Times called it "Mexico's most powerful organized crime group." The Sinaloa Cartel is associated with the label "Golden Triangle", which refers to the states of Sinaloa, Durango, and Chihuahua. The region is a major producer of Mexican opium and marijuana. According to the U.S. Attorney General, the Sinaloa Cartel is responsible for importing into the United States and distributing nearly 200 tons of cocaine and large amounts of heroin between 1990 and 2008.
The Black Eagles (Colombia)
Boss: Vicente Castaño (reputed)
Black Eagles (Spanish: Águilas Negras) is a term describing a series of Colombian right wing, counter-revolutionary, paramilitary organizations made up of new and preexisting paramilitary forces, who emerged from the failures of the demobilization process between 2004 and 2006, which aimed to disarm the United Self-Defense Units of Colombia (AUC). These were first considered to be a third generation of paramilitary groups but there are Colombian military reports suggesting the Águilas Negras are intermediaries in the drug business between the guerrilla and drug cartels outside Colombia.
Abergil Family (Israel)
Boss: Itzhak Abergil
The Abergil crime family is a crime organization based in Israel, and located around the world, founded by Ya'akov Abergil. The group was headed by Ya'akov Abergil until his death in 2002, and is now run under the auspices of Itzhak (Itzik) Abergil, and his brothers Meir Abergil and Avraham (Ibi) Abergil. Its illicit activities include drug trafficking, both in Israel and the US, murder, extortion, embezzlement, money laundering, the control of illegal casinos and other crimes. Considered one of the six major organized-crime cells in Israel, and one of the world’s top 40 biggest drug importers to the United States, the Abergils have been arrested and detained multiple times worldwide.
The Chicago Outfit (Chicago, U.S.)
Boss: John Difronzo
The Chicago Outfit, also known as the Chicago Syndicate, Chicago Mafia, Chicago Mob, or simply the Outfit, or The Capone family is a crime syndicate based in Chicago, Illinois, US. Dating back to the 1910s, it is part of the Italian American Mafia; however, the Chicago Outfit is distinct from the "Five Families" of New York City.
The Outfit in the city of Chicago has no true monopoly on traditional organized crime. The Outfit's control at its peak reached throughout the western and eastern United States to places as far away as Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and parts of Florida.
The Chicago Outfit is also known to have large interests in neighboring states including Iowa, Wisconsin, and other areas of the Midwest. It also had satellite families, or crime families that answer to or are under Outfit control. These include the Iowa family, Las Vegas crew(s), the Los Angeles family, the Nebraska crew, and the San Diego crew.
As of 2007, the Outfit's size is estimated to be 28 official members (composing its core group) and over 100 associates. The Old Neighborhood Italian American Club is considered to be hangout of Old Timers, as they live out their golden years. The Club's founder was Angelo J. LaPietra "The Hook", who at the time of his death in 1999 was the main Council.
Clerkenwell Crime Syndicate (UK)
Boss: Terry Adams
The Clerkenwell crime syndicate or A-team is one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the United Kingdom. The gang was formed in the 1980s by Terry Adams and his two brothers Tommy and Patrick Adams. The family is known for brute force, violence, and wealth. They are said to be involved in drug trafficking, extortion, security fraud, gambling, as well as the hijacking of gold bullion shipments. The A-team has been linked to 25 gangland murders and often uses Afro-Caribbean muscle to influence informants and rival criminals.