The Most Brutal Gangs Around The World

Published May 16, 2014
Updated February 27, 2024

Discover the chilling exploits of Mungiki, Los Zetas and the rest of the most brutal gangs on the planet.

Ms13 Body Tattoos

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Citizens who manage to stay on the right side of their home countries’ laws usually settle their disputes in a civilized way—by suing the pants off of each other. Sometimes their disputes rise to the level of Internet flame wars or screaming matches at homeowners’ association meetings.

The gangs on this list, however, mostly grew up in places and among social classes that don’t offer that kind of redress. The disputes that arise among pimps, smugglers, thieves, and drug pushers mostly get solved with violence–the more violent, the better.

From the group that got their start by stabbing 48 of their city’s then most powerful gangsters to death all at once to the criminals who run the murder capital of the world (Which isn’t where you think) to the wing of the already violent cartels that actually specializes in violence, here are seven of the most violent gangs operating in the world today:

First up: They sacrifice humans, cast spells, and charge people to use public bathrooms…

Brutal Gangs: Mungiki

Criminal Gangs Mungiki

Image Source: Story Taxi

Most criminal organizations and gangs specialize in a limited number of activities. Favorites include drug trafficking, prostitution, and extortion. The Mungiki, however, are up to their necks in all of these, plus counterfeiting, unlicensed taxis, and public restrooms. Yes, they post a guard on public restrooms and charge for the privilege of using them. They also dabble in casting spells and human sacrifice.

Mungiki Machete Stump

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It’s a mystery how the Mungiki got their start. The truth is that nobody was really keeping an eye on the slums of Kenya in the late 1980s, so stories about their beginning are hard to come by.

It is known that by the early ’90s, the Mungiki had dominated the freelance taxi market in Nairobi. Using a great deal of slaughter and occasional negotiations, the Mungiki swept over the glamorous trades of waste disposal, construction, and racketeering. It’s estimated that the group presently has perhaps 100,000 members.

Over time, the group moved into really weird territory. Part criminal gang, part political party, and part mystery cult, the Mungiki have a reputation for squeezing what little money they can out of millions of ordinary Kenyans. They also fight the Maasai and various pro-government groups. In 2007, Kenyan authorities accused members of the group of beheading and mutilating a two-year-old boy as part of a magic ritual.

Mungiki Suspect Military Dog

Image Source: Matador Network

It’s worth noting that those same Kenyan authorities have come unhinged in their war on the Mungiki gangs and killed about 12,000 people accused of being part of the group in episodic crackdowns over the years.


Next up: Even the marines who arrest them will hide their own faces in fear…

Richard Stockton
Richard Stockton is a freelance science and technology writer from Sacramento, California.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.