Many leading economists will tell you that human beings are richer than ever. But what about the millions of others who still reside in areas of the world where simply staying alive is considered a luxury? Unfortunately, many live that reality each day, and that's especially true for those living in proximity to gangs.
Here, we chronicle 10 gangs across the world who have gained infamous reputations for their illegal activities.
1. Hells Angels
The famous American biker gang has forged a feared reputation over the years. Known for their trademark leather jackets, shaven heads and Harley Davidson motorbikes, the Hells Angels belong to one of the 'Big Four' motorcycle gangs, along with the Pagans, Outlaws, and Bandidos.
As an organisation, most of their money- if rumours are true- comes from a variety of illegal activities such as drug dealing, trafficking in stolen goods, and prostitution.
As Japan's most feared gang, members are expected to cut all ties with their family and pledge loyalty to their bosses. It's a mindset that makes many desensitised to the crimes they will likely commit. In fact, one of their brutal practices, known as Yubitsume, involves the cutting of one's finger as an act of apology if they go against the strict codes.
What's more, the gang's reach extends beyond Tokyo's dimly lit alleyways and neon-lit clubs. The organisation, which is rumoured to have around 102,000 members, has a massive presence in the Japanese media.
3. Jamaican Posse
The streets of Kingston, Jamaica have long been plagued with killings and a significant percentage of those can be attributed to the Island's notoriously violent 'Jamaican Posse' gang.
Well connected to the country's government, their ritualized killings, which usually involve laundry irons, butchers knives, and, somewhat bizarrely, vacuum cleaners, leads many Kingston citizens quaking in their boots.
4. The Crips
Famed for their affiliations to a plethora of rap and hip-hop artists, the Crips, whose members reside in Los Angeles, are usually identified by their blue clothing, and have a fierce rivalry with the 'Bloods.'
Illegal activity within the gang is believed to involve low-level drug dealing and graffiti, while any graffiti spotted with the letter 'B' is quickly defaced due to 'B' being the beginning letter of their bitter rivals.
5. Aryan Brotherhood
Around 1/4 of prison murders in the United States were attributed to this gang, mainly because membership requires you kill or assault a fellow prisoner.
It is a brutal practice called “blood in, blood out”, meaning anyone who leaves the gang usually ends up dead or in a hospital.
6. Cosa Nostra (Italian and American Mafias)
While the term 'Mafia' has long been used to describe criminal organisations, the two most famous- New York's American Mafia, (formed largely by Italian immigrants) and Italy's Sicilian Mafia- simply go by the name "cost nostra", which translates roughly to "our thing".
Know for their decadent lifestyles funded from a life of organised crime and violence; their lives have often been a source of fascination, thanks largely to the Hollywood movies spawned from their crimes and paradoxically warm-hearted family values.
7. Area Boys (Agberos)
While their crimes usually fail to go beyond intimidation and violence, locals living in Nigeria's chaotic capital, Lagos, remain fearful of one of the city's foremost gangs.
Known as 'Area Boys,' the gang consists of abandoned youths, who roam the streets looking for innocent bystanders to mug.
8. The Bloods
While their rivalry with fellow Los Angeles natives the 'Crips' is one of the world's most famed gang rivalries, the red-clothed Bloods are actually descendants of breakaway Crips members.
Like many in the early 1970s, small factions within the group became concerned with the Crips increasing power, and by 1972, disillusioned Crips members formed a new federation who would later be known as Bloods.
As they were in the minority, the Bloods made concerted efforts in the early years of their formation to act with excessive force; a trait they are known for to this day.
The famed Chinese mob has proliferated into a conglomerate of gangs, with an estimated 2.5 million people around the world identifying themselves 'Triads.'
Highly skilled in combat, killings are a regular occurrence. Triad organisations are also well structured and usually turn over considerable profits thanks to a whole host of illicit activities, including, but not limited to drug trafficking and protection money.
10. The Mungiki
Predominantly comprised of Kenya's largest ethnic group (the Kikuyu), the Mungiki gang's primary motive is to gain political control in Kenya.
Rumoured to be 100,000 strong, their practices, while political, are nonetheless nightmarish. Examples include gang members soaking in the blood of the enemy and severing the victim's head before parading it on a stick. It's practices like these which have made the Mungiki gang one of the most feared in not only Kenya but the whole of Africa.