I've been writing a dystopia that revolves around a world that has gained a heavily ranked organization system, and parts of it, including parts of Mexico, are run by Gangs and Cartels. How do they manage territory? I noticed that the cartel members come in four main ranks: Drug Lords, Lieutenants, Soldiers, and Halcones. Does each Lieutenant get Jurisdiction of a certain area, which it's his job to manage, and the Drug Lord manages the main organization? I've noticed that often their territories are massive, how do they manage all of it? Do cartel members lead enforcer gangs?


1 Answer 1


The same way McDonalds does. Franchising.

A big gang like Zeta will go to an area and find out who the local criminals are who are aligned with their gang type. Some are race or culture specific, but regardless, they'll find local contacts. Then they'll say that gang can sell under their name and have access to some of their contacts in return for a cut of their cash. They'll give them or sell them shirts and sports gear and baseball caps with their logo, train them to use some weapons, and have a new cash flow.

Of course, just as with McDonalds, they have different motives to the locals. The locals want as much cash as possible, which means eliminating other franchises. The people at the top want as many local franchises as possible as that means more cash for them. Friction is common.

The core gang has a somewhat flat hierarchy

The core gang will have divisions each with a different function. One might be someone who works to bribe police officers and politicians. They'll know everyone's children and financial situation and vices and will work to keep the product moving through their territory with a mixture of bribes, threats, and influence. Another might manage oil deliveries to keep all the gang's vehicles running.

A fixed structure doesn't work, because governments will destroy fixed structures. Leaders die often. They have a bunch of affiliated groups which work hard to instill shared loyalty and belonging and routinely change up who manages things and how it's managed to adapt to the situation. Even if you kill a bunch of gang members, the franchises and core businesses can still function as they all work together.


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