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The Underworld Podcast

English, Cultural, 1 season, 163 episodes, 5 days, 15 hours, 2 minutes
About
Underworld exposes the secret world of transnational criminal networks that have flourished since there were banks to bust, drugs to smuggle, and scams to run. Journalists Danny Gold and Sean Williams bring their experience reporting on dangerous people and organizations to take listeners on a global tour of mobsters, warlords and crooks - from Brooklyn to Beijing, from the streets to the boardrooms - and everywhere in between. Underworld is a show about heroes, villains, and the barely visible mafias that affect all our lives, whether we know it or not.
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El Salvador's War on MS-13: Nayib Bukele Goes Hard

Since 2019, Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele has smashed the country’s two main gangs, MS-13 and Barrio 18, throwing almost 80,000 people into megaprisons and implementing a harsh but effective “state of exception,” aka martial law. Murder rates have plummeted and, for the first time in years, Salvadorans can live without the fear of violence, extortion, or death. But the sneaker-wearing “world’s coolest dictator” has also gerrymandered El Salvador’s political map, silenced the press, and packed out the judiciary with sycophants and wallflowers. And as human rights NGOs cry foul, Bukele has gone full-tilt, telling citizens not to call him a dictator, but a “philosopher king.” Is his fragile peace about to come crashing down? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
6/11/202455 minutes, 47 seconds
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India's Gangster Assassins Are Running Wild

When hitmen shot dead Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar near Vancouver last June, Canadian cops blamed the government of India’s strongman leader Narendra Modi. Subsequent assassination plots in NYC, the UK and Germany have pointed at two men. One is India’s most notorious mobster. The other is its most decorated spy, a man whose undercover ops—and willingness to dip into the underworld—has earned him the nickname “India’s James Bond.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
6/4/202440 minutes, 30 seconds
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The Most Corrupt NYPD Detective & His Mafia Uncle w/Steve Fishman

Louis Sarcella might be one of the most corrupt NYPD detectives ever, though he was once heralded as a master at getting confessions on homicides. A slick dressing, tough talking cigar smoker who could bench 400 pounds, he got such a good reputation that he was invited on the Dr. Phil show. But while he was waging a war on the streets, his uncle, Nicky Black Grancio, was waging a mafia war as the third Colombo family civil war heated up and bodies started to drop. Both Nicky and Louis's luck would soon run out. We're joined by the host of The Burden, journalist Steve Fishman. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
5/28/202445 minutes, 58 seconds
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The Gangster Warlords of Haiti's Collapse with Jason Motlagh

Haiti's gangs have effectively taken over the country, plunging into chaos and violence as warring gangster warlords like the infamous Barbeque fight for territorial control. In February gangs stormed police stations, shot up the airport and freed thousands of prisoners after storming the country's biggest prisons, causing a humanitarian crisis. Things have gotten so bad that Kenya is sending in 1,000 police officers to try to regain some sort of control. We're joined by reporter Jason Motlagh, who's been reporting down there for years and has hung out with Barbeque before. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
5/21/202444 minutes, 8 seconds
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El Mayo: The Undisputed King of Mexico & the Betrayal of El Chapo

In the late 2000's, the Mexico government put together a list of dozens of Narco kingpins it wanted to bring down. Only one name from that list is not imprisoned or dead, and still sitting stop the Mexican cartel world: El Mayo. Nearing 80, he's never so much as been arrested despite co-founding and then co-leading the Sinaloa cartel for decades. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
5/14/202442 minutes, 46 seconds
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El Chapo's Boss & The Most Powerful Kingpin in Mexico: El Mayo

Everyone knows El Chapo, the infamous leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, one time most powerful kingpin that Mexico has ever seen. The man who revolutionized the Mexican cartels' drug trade. But...what if he never actually was at the top of the food chain? Some have long suspected that the head of the Sinaloa cartel has always been Ismael Zambada Garcia, also known as El Mayo. Nearing his 80's, little is known about his early life, but he's always managed to stay two steps ahead of the cartel wars and the police. He's never been arrested. He's always played the background, avoiding the spotlight and letting Chapo get the notoriety even though they cofounded and shared leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
5/7/202449 minutes, 16 seconds
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Andrew Tate & the Romanian Mob: A Match Made in Criminal Heaven

With influencer and living meme Andrew Tate about to face trial in Romania, we dive into his connections to a powerful pair of Mafia brothers and their casino empire—and how the Tates pivoted from MMA to a gang that has terrorized the European nation for years. We also go deep on the history of Romanian organized crime, from Ponzi schemes to ATM skimming gangs and Europe’s biggest human trafficking syndicate—and show how Romania and the Tates had been on a criminal collision course for decades Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
4/30/202452 minutes, 7 seconds
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The Most Dangerous Russian Mobster America Has Ever Known: Boris Nayfeld

Boris Nayfeld's life is like something out of a movie; orphaned in the former Soviet Union, he served time in a brutal penal colony before establishing himself as a top tier street criminal before escaping for America. No stranger to violence, he got involved in the burgeoning Russian mafia factions rising up in Brooklyn's Brighton Beach during the 1980's. But he’s way more than just a two bit gangster. He’s been involved in organized crime from Odessa to Thailand to Antwerp, survived 5 assassination attempts, done prison in the US and the former soviet union, and been involved in diamond heists, heroin trafficking, extortion, shootouts, tangled with Russian Thieves in Law…the guy’s name carries weight. And somehow, through it all, he survived when nearly everyone else he came up with didn't. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
4/23/202457 minutes, 53 seconds
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The Rise and Fall of Golden Triangle Dope: From a Jailed Kingpin to a Casino Shootout

Lo Hsing Han was a Burmese narco so powerful that Richard Nixon called him a Godfather. But the Kokang king tried one too many shady deals, sending the Golden Triangle’s heroin industry on a helter-skelter path toward a bloody, 2023 shootout with Chinese cops—at a lawless casino town on the edge of nowhere. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
4/16/202443 minutes, 8 seconds
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Skinny Joey Merlino and The Philly Mob Wars:

Well, they blew up the Chicken Man in Philly last night. And they blew up his house too. And the racket boys, they really did have a fight...a brutal one that lasted decades and saw Skinny Joey Merlino come out on top. He's not just America's next top crime podcaster and patreon star, he's also the one-time boss of the Philadelphia mafia and (allegedly!) still the don of Philly, if you believe the feds. Merlino, though, is no joke. Surviving by the skin of his teeth and dodging multiple assassinations in the 80's and 90's, he went from the son of shunned one-time underboss Chuckie Merlino to the top position when him and his crew of young gunners took on all comers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
4/9/202446 minutes, 28 seconds
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The Zombie Drug Robbery Gangs of Medellin Preying on Dating Apps w/ Toby Muse

Medellin was once the world's most violent city, torn about by Pablo Escobar's murderous cartel warfare and later, Don Berna's meteoric rise to control the city's drug trade. Over the last decade, though, the city has grown quite safe, becoming a tourism hotspot and hub for digital nomads attracted to it's people, parties and culture. But a recent spate of robbery turned murders, mostly targeting foreigners through dating apps like Tinder and Bumble, is once again throwing the city's rep into question and garnering international headlines. But who, exactly, is behind it? We're joined by Underworld favorite and Colombian underworld specialist, reporter and producer Toby Muse. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
4/2/202458 minutes, 34 seconds
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Kokang Cowboys: Burma’s Transgender Narco Royalty, a Secret Army, and a “Special Belt”

Olive Yang—or Miss Hairy Legs, or Two-Gun Mulan, or any number of nicknames folks gave her—was the gunslinging princess of Kokang who bucked the royal yolk to become one of the Golden Triangle’s biggest narco traffickers. With DC’s backing she built an empire all over Asia, and did some pretty impressive spycraft on the side. Part one of this crazy two-parter tracks the rise of Olive and her “Boys,” the gangsters of the Kokang bush, a stint in prison, 999 dope and something Olive’s sister called, euphemistically, the “special belt.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/27/202443 minutes, 3 seconds
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Digital Hucksters, Crypto Scams and the Internet’s “Enshittification” with Cory Doctorow

From Ponzi schemes to shitcoins, phishing scams and Nigerian princes, we’re living in a golden age of online crime. But hasn’t it always been this way? Cory Doctorow’s latest novel “The Bezzle” dives into some of these recesses, and America’s prison-industrial complex—all part of something he’s dubbed the “enshittification” of the World Wide Web Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/19/202457 minutes, 16 seconds
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The Most Successful American Mobster EVER: Tony Accardo

Tony "Joe Batters" Accardo aka the Big Tuna (!) was one of the most powerful Mob Bosses that the American Mafia has ever seen, sitting atop the brutal Chicago Outfit for 40 years. From being an errand boy turned hitman for none other than Al Capone to taking the Outfit from a local prohibition gang to a national powerhouse with multiple Vegas casinos, Accardo's seven decade career in the underworld is legendary. And you'll never guess which current NFL all stars are his great-grandsons... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/12/202454 minutes, 6 seconds
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Listen Now: Varnamtown Episode 1

Two years ago, Kyle MacLachlan, the star of Twin Peaks, called investigative journalist Joshua Davis with a strange story. Kyle had heard a rumor that Pablo Escobar did a deal in the early 1980s with a remote, coastal Southern town of 300 people. In exchange for vast wealth and limitless cocaine, Escobar would be allowed to land planes and ships in the area. Over the last 24 months, Josh and Kyle investigated the rumor, journeying to Varnamtown to knock on doors and find out what really happens when a firehose of money and cocaine is turned on a small, tight knit community. Listen to Varnamtown wherever you get your podcasts.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/8/20244 minutes, 8 seconds
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The Bamboo Union Triads, Taiwan's White Wolf Godfather, and a Murdered Reporter in SF

When Chinese-American reporter Henry Liu was gunned down in his Daly City garage in 1984, it brought the Bamboo Union, Taiwan’s most powerful Triad, to global attention. But while the killing frayed ties between the island and DC, authorities skipped over a guy in California pulling the strings all along—a silver-tongued philosophy grad who’d gone from Taipei street fighting to restauranteur and the Bamboo Union’s point-man in the United States. His name was Chang An-lo, and he’d soon be behind bars for a massive narco bust in New York. But insiders knew him by another, far more fearsome name: White Wolf. And his story—one that would weave between the States, Taiwan and the Chinese mainland—was just getting started. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/5/202440 minutes, 4 seconds
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The Yakuza Boss Caught Selling Burmese Nuclear Material to Iranian Generals (Sort Of)

You may have seen the news last week, about a Yakuza boss caught in Bangkok trying to sell nuclear material to a fake Iranian general. Takeshi Ebisawa and a group of co-conspirators are behind bars, awaiting extradition to the US, the dopes in a sting operation that could’ve been lifted straight from Hollywood. But how legit is the bust? And who is Ebisawa, the stout, goateed gangster cops have been saying for years is a Yakuza don—despite that not really being a thing? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2/27/202444 minutes, 40 seconds
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She Hunted Down the Zetas Cartel Members Who Killed Her Daughter

When members of the fearsome and brutal Zetas cartel kidnapped her daughter, Miriam Rodriguez did what they asked and paid the ransom. But it wasn't enough, and she never saw her daughter again. Fed up with a lack of help from the police, she went on a one-woman crusade for justice, tracking down the men responsible for killing her daughter by any means possible. New York Times reporter Azam Ahmed joins us to talk about his new book, Fear is Just a Word, about Miriam Rodriguez and the quest for hard to find justice again Mexico's cartels. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2/20/202445 minutes, 24 seconds
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From Helicopter Prison Breaks to Missing Millions: The French Heist Men Who Became Heroes

On the face of it, Toni Musulin and Redoine Faïd couldn’t be more different: one a quiet, skinflint armored vehicle driver, the other a flamboyant gang leader who went on the lam in Tel Aviv disguised as religious. But the crimes of both men captured French hearts and minds, catapulting them to infamy and prompting some, in the wake of the global financial crash, to describe them as Robin Hoods. But neither man fit that particular bill—even if their money-grabbing plots could’ve been ripped from a Hollywood script. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2/13/202441 minutes, 41 seconds
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The Headhunting Burmese Tribe Running the World's Biggest Cartel: The Wa w/ Patrick Winn

The Wa tribe, an indigenous tribe residing in the mountainous Burma China borderlands, has long had a reputation as a people not to be trifled with. And yes, they were actually headhunters, well into the 20th century. Known as powerful warriors who weren't keen on outsiders telling them what to do, they were able to carve out their own autonomous state in Myanmar despite the ruling junta's militant authoritarianism, Long before they launched the powerful United Wa State Army in 1989, various warlords had grown opium and sold it to a shadowy group of Chinese dealers known as The Exiles. And then in the late 1980’s, there’s a man that takes the helm. He’s quiet, unassuming, basically an accountant and logistics guy. He’s half Chinese and Half Wa. Not a tough guy cowboy headhunter war lord. But even today, they still speak his name quietly, if at all. Wei Xuegang. And he sets up his heroin trafficking operation to be one of the biggest the world has ever seen.  Much, much more in this episode, with Patrick Winn, Bangkok based journalist and author of the new book Narcotopia, including various CIA and DEA entanglements, battles with the infamous Khun Sa, and the move to the potent asian methamphetamine pills known as Yaba. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2/6/20241 hour, 3 minutes, 52 seconds
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Behind Ecuador's Gang TV Takeover: Prison Kings, Megabusts and Daytime Executions

This month armed men stormed an Ecuadorean TV station, shocking the world and plunging the nation into gang hell. Prosecutors have been assassinated and gangs are looting offices, universities and even hospitals, as martial law takes hold. It might seem like Ecuador has gone from Latin American idyll to narco-state overnight. The truth, though, is that it’s been bubbling under the surface for half a century. We dig into the laws, routes, rebels and cowboys that have gotten us here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/30/202445 minutes, 31 seconds
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Griselda Blanco and Miami's Drug Wars: Netflix's New Narcos

Dubbed the Cocaine Godmother and the Black Widow, Griselda Blanco rose to power when the cocaine boom was taking off and Colombian cartels started pumping product into the US, mainly through Miami. As the floodgates opened and tens of millions of dollars were being made on the streets, everyone wanted to be on top of pyramid, including Griselda...and she was more than willing to have people killed to get there, innocent or otherwise. Griselda's shooters turned Miami into a war zone as her Colombian connections in her hometown of Medellin got her a never-ending supply of the best product...but even the cartels soon tired of her recklessness and bloodthirsty methods. Now the inspiration for a new Netflix Series starring Sofia Vergara (call Sean!) Head to factormeals.com/underworld50 and use code underworld50 to get 50% off! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/23/202448 minutes, 38 seconds
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A Cop-Cartel Heist and Sky High Homicide Rates: What the Hell is Going on in Tijuana

When a team of cops drove a truck laden with Sinaloa Cartel product out of a Tijuana warehouse in November, experts predicted violence even worse than the city had suffered in recent years, as roiling fentanyl and meth industries had made it Mexico’s most dangerous city by far. The reprisals began just hours later—and they still haven’t stopped. Now, with bodies piling, sex and people trafficking at all-time highs and the golden days of prohibition racetracks a more-than-distant memory, what on earth can be done to quell the killing? With Tijuana’s mayor holed up in an army barracks, perhaps not a lot. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/16/202451 minutes, 53 seconds
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The Kingpin Behind Asia's Triad Super-Syndicate Cartel : Tse Chi Lop, with Josh Berlinger

The mysterious Chinese-born criminal mastermind Tse Chi Lop didn't raise too many eyebrows when he was arrested in Canada in the 1990's for running heroin with the Hong Kong Triads known as the Big Circle Gang in a partnership with the Rizzuto family, a Canadian-Italian mafia clan. But after serving nearly a decade in prison, the laid back, soft-spoken and supremely confident drug lord went about setting up the biggest methamphetamine and synthetic drug cartel in Asia and some say, the world. Sitting atop Sam Gor, also known as the company, Chi Lop was apparently helping the Triad cartel bring in upwards of 17 billon dollars a year. Now awaiting trial in Australia after he was arrested in Amsterdam, what will Tse Chi Lop's trial reveal about the mysterious man alleged to be Asia's biggest drug lord? Reporter Josh Berlinger has been tracking him for years and brings us the story. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/9/202444 minutes, 5 seconds
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New Years/Christmas Q + A!!!!!

Danny and Sean jump in on all of your questions for this Christmas New Years week specia; Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/2/202447 minutes, 55 seconds
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The El Chapo of the Sahel, Africa's Desert Trafficking and the Sahara’s Most Dangerous Gangs

We do Christmas shows different. Using ancient desert trade routes made famous by megarich kings, narcos, terrorists and arms traffickers have turned the Sahel region into one of the world’s deadliest drug caravans. In recent years cigarette traders, Tuareg separatists and religious rebels have coalesced into a giant, lucrative underworld. Among its key players, one man stands out—and though his career path is about as apocryphal as the average midnight mass, his impact is no less huge. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
12/26/202354 minutes, 46 seconds
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Mafia-controlled Ports, Nazi Submarines, and Backroom World War 2 deals with Brendan Sullivan

Long before Pearl Harbor the US had already lost 243 mariners at sea. German UBoats came close enough to NY harbor to sink US merchant ships just by looking for their dark silhouettes against the lights of the city. American bodies washed back to American shores as if they had just gotten stuck in the riptide. The lucky ones were dead on impact. But Some of the U-boats surfaced, collected the survivors and brought them below decks for interrogation before being flung back to sea, shivering aboard a hopeless liferaft. The few US survivors described something odd about the ships: they were loaded with American goods, stuffed to the rafters like the backroom of a mafia hangout. And the strangest mystery of all that would set this whole story in motion and perplexed Naval intelligence: the Nazi UBoats had freshly baked American sliced bread. The US government thought there was only one man that could help figured things out. Problem was, he was locked up in prison in New York on the usual mafia racketeering charges. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
12/19/20231 hour, 2 minutes, 41 seconds
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Air America, Corsican Mobsters and Spies Gone Native - Did the CIA Fuel the Modern Heroin Trade?

At one point in the 1960s Air America was the largest carrier on the planet. It was also a CIA front, and its ragtag pilots ferried tons of raw opium up and down Laos during Washington’s “Secret War” against Communism. This week’s show gets into the history of the illicit airline, and the corrupt officials, French mob and heroin-producing tribes who won big from AA’s operations—immortalized in the 1990 blockbuster “Air America” (13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
12/12/202348 minutes, 49 seconds
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Santo Trafficante: Havana Nights, Killing Castro and the King of Florida

The Trafficante crime family ruled Florida for decades, earning the respect and admiration of powerful mobsters like Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Sam Giancana. Santo Trafficante Sr arrived in Tampa as a boy from Sicily and took to the underworld with a talent for business, setting up the illegal lottery known as the Bolita before using his Spanish skills to make him indispensable to the powerful five families who wanted to set up shop in Cuba. When his son, Santo Jr, took the reigns, they soon controlled casinos, nightclubs and luxury hotels, as well as narcotics trafficking routes, from Cuba to Miami to Tampa. But the heady days of Fulgencio Batista's Cuba was coming to a close, and the Cuban revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro were going to complicate things. So much so that Trafficante soon found himself in one of America's strangest alliances and even stranger assassination plots. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
12/5/202349 minutes, 20 seconds
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Slave Compounds, Sam Bankman-Fried and Crypto’s Crooked Heart - with Zeke Faux

Zeke Faux is an NYC-based reporter with Bloomberg Businessweek. His new book, “Number Go Up”, is a wild ride into the criminal heart of cryptocurrency - from missing billions and cartel money-laundering, to Tether, FTX, bros in the Bahamas and crypto slaves in Southeast Asia. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/28/20231 hour, 10 minutes, 16 seconds
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MS-13 and The 18th Street Gang's Reign of Terror

El Salvador's warring street gangs-turned-armies may have finally been broken thanks to the heavy-handed policies of Nayib Bukele dumping anyone and everyone into prison. But before MS-13 and 18th Street had been taken down a notch, they ruled neighborhoods in El Salvador with a brutality rarely seen. It's not just face tattoos and machetes. We break down the origins of the gangs here and our time spent with them in El Salvador. Support our sponsors at butcherbox.com/underworld and use code underworld  and uncommongoods.com/underworld Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/21/202354 minutes, 40 seconds
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From Fantasy Islands to a Coup D’État: The Dominion of Melchizedek:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a fake country and a global scam operation, must be in want of a wife with a penny-stock mining operation who can stalk government officials in their dreams. In the second instalment of our Dominion of Melchizedek two-parter, the conman mothership ventures out in search of a home; establishes diplomatic relations with fellow micronations; tries to rebuild the Queen Mary oceanliner; and endures a bitter power struggle. Oh, and its current PM spent two hours shooting the breeze with Sean. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/14/202354 minutes, 15 seconds
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The Dominion of Melchizedek: The "Mothership for Con Artists Worldwide"

Back in the early 1980s David and Mark Pedley were little more than a father-son real estate scam duo. Then came prison, escape, and a self-penned Bible, named for an obscure Jerusalem priest and the foundation for a micronation called the Dominion of Melchizedek. It was no ordinary secession movement. The Dominion would become one of its era's greatest swindles, taking in bogus firms, Vegas slots, Hong Kong archdukes and Idy Amin's mansion. Then, with the backing of a mysterious Carpathian tribe, the Dominion of Melchizedek declared war on France. Part one of a frankly insane two-parter. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/7/202346 minutes, 5 seconds
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The New Orleans Godfather and the JFK Assassination: Carlos Marcello

Carlos Marcello went from a small time produce hustler to heading up the New Orleans Mafia with a massive gambling empire and a hand in every pie in the city's notorious underworld. He even found himself in business with the heavyweights from New York's five families. And though he tried to keep himself out of the spotlight, the Kennedy brother's war on America's mafia, with John as president and Robert as attorney general, made sure the FBI knew he was and stayed on his case. In fact, RFK once had him kidnapped and deported to Guatemala and Marcello was overheard swearing to get revenge. But how far did he go? Could he have been involved in the assassination of a president? All that and the story of Sean's first arrest for public indecency on Bourbon Street. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
10/31/202343 minutes, 17 seconds
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The Chechen Mafia Goes Global: Ramzan Kadyrov, Car Bombs, Guns-for-hire and The World's Weirdest Reality Show

The final show in our Chechen trilogy focuses on the republic's current gangster-in-chief, Ramzan Kadyrov, and his rise to become one of the world's most fearsome—but also bumbling—despots. Kadyrov has cozied up to Vladimir Putin, dispatched hired killers to quell dissent, empowered Chechen mafiosi and even launched his own film studio to create a North Korea-style cult of personality in the Caucasian state. And of course, there's football, boxing with Mike Tyson and Kadyrov's successful forays into MMA. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
10/24/202349 minutes, 15 seconds
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The Knife Fighting Italian Gangster Who Built an Army while in Prison

The Camorra clans of Naples had always played second fiddle to the Sicilian Mafia and the Calabrian 'Ndranghetta. Until Raffaelle Cutolo started building up his Nuovo Camorra Organization while locked up in a notorious prison. When he wasn't writing poetry or challenging other bosses to knife fights, his old school charisma and genius leadership skills, as well as his insanity, saw him take a small prison crew and build it into an army of thousands ready to die for him. Many of his soldiers would get that opportunity as he started a war trying to rule all of Naples, but it was his battles with the government that ended up really taking their toll. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
10/17/202339 minutes, 50 seconds
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How Russian Mobsters Masterminded a Crazy, Fake Cricket League for Betting Riches: Sean's in the Field!

This May, on assignment for _Sports Illustrated_, Sean visited Molipur, a tiny village in Gujarat, India, to dive into what seemed like a funny caper: villagers establishing a fake cricket league to fool Russian punters. But almost as soon as he stepped off the plane, the story took a sharp right turn. The Russians were pulling the villagers' strings all along. And the sportsbook behind it all is one of the slickest and maddest money-laundering schemes on the planet. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
10/10/202354 minutes, 18 seconds
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The Secret Rise of Female Narcos in Latin American Cartels with Deborah Bonello

Deborah Bonello is a Mexico City-based reporter who's distilled years of reporting on some of the most dangerous women on earth into her new book "Narcas: The Secret Rise of Women in Latin America's Cartels". Deborah spoke to Sean about Lola "La Chata", the first female narco boss in Mexican history, the bathtub violence of Argentine smuggler Yolanda Sarmiento, women in El Salvador's brutal street gangs, and Emma Coronel, El Chapo's buchona wife. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
10/3/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 13 seconds
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Ex-Con Mercenaries, Wagner, Prigozhin, and the Russian Mafiosos Fighting in Ukraine with Joshua Yaffa

The Russian mercenary/state aligned outfit Wagner emerged from the early days of the war in Ukraine, led by an ex-con turned hot dog salesman turned Putin lapdog. In no time, they were operating in the Middle East and Africa, and Yevgeny Prigozhin's stock as a warlord began to rise. When Russia's full scale invasion started to falter, Wagner started trawling Russian prisons like the villain in a Fast and Furious movie. Soon, though, his star rose a little too high and that never ends well in Putin's Russia. We're joined by New Yorker writer and Between Two Fires author Joshua Yaffa, who has covered Wagner's rise and Prigozhin's fall. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
9/26/202347 minutes, 50 seconds
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The Chechen Mafia Strikes Back: War Profiteering, School Sieges and a Turncoat Named Kadyrov

The Soviet Union is toast, Chechnya is at war and Grozny, its embattled capital, is being bombed to dust. Gangs of Chechen criminals are getting rich off the bloodshed, capitalizing on gun- and drug-running networks that flourished under Communism. When the war ends a new breed of Chechen mobster-terrorist emerges, empowered by Arab Jihad and financed by goons who've grown fat on the patronage of oligarchs. After a brutal period of rocket strikes, school sieges and plane hijackings, Chechnya enters a new, stable—but semi-feudal—stage, led by a family of boxers and religious zealots: the Kadyrovs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
9/19/202353 minutes, 59 seconds
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Becoming the Chechen Mafia: Ancient Outlaws, Soviet Scabs and a British KGB Plot

In this episode we track the concept of the Chechen Mafia—not an easy thing to define—from ancient invasions and the creation of the "Abrek", or "outlaw-exile," through Soviet repression, Stalin's deportations and the "Scab War" of the feared Gulag Archipelago. The rise of a Communist blackmarket later allowed Chechens in Siberia and Kazakhstan to carve out their own illicit empires, outside of Russia's "Thieves World." These newfound gangsters coalesced with an independence movement, whose bloodshed would reach all the way to central London—at the scene of a brutal, 1993 double-murder. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
9/12/202350 minutes, 10 seconds
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The Camorra Clans of Naples: Italy's Most Violent Criminal Organizarion

The origins of Naples' feared criminal clans known as the Camorra go back hundreds of years to the days of rural banditry and villa owners with private armies that lived by a code. Now, having access and control to one of Italy's most active ports and corrupt governments has paved the way for their growth but unlike the Sicilian Mafia or the Calabrian 'Ndranghetta, there's a whole lot more parallel groups as opposed to a hierarchical structure. From making tens of millions of dollars smuggling black market cigarettes to running street level coke sales, the clans have emerged as the most violent groups in Italy, constantly warring with each other and everyone else. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
9/5/202346 minutes, 26 seconds
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The Maltese Mobsters who Ruled London's Empire of Vice

The Messina family came from Sicily, then Malta and North Africa, before settling in 1930s London—whose underworld was about to be supercharged by wartime blackouts and love-lorn American G.I.s. They would soon control an empire of brothels and gambling dens in the British capital, conning, bribing and killing their way to gangland dominance. And while the Messinas' flame died in the early 60s, their mantle would be taken up by a new generation of Maltese mobsters, whose legacy lasted until the 21st century arrival of another viceland behemoth: the Albanians. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
8/29/202350 minutes, 19 seconds
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Los Zetas: The Brutal Cartel Formed By Mexican Commandos

Mexican Cartels have always had a penchant for violence, but the brutal tactics of Los Zetas plunged Mexico into never before seen levels of bloodshed. Originally formed by only a few dozen special forces soldiers who went rogue and became the enforcement wing of the Gulf Cartel, Los Zetas eventually broke away and ran roughshod all over Mexico, warring with everyone from the Sinaloa Cartel to the Mexican army at the same time. Gone were the days of gangbangers, instead Los Zetas would usher Mexico's cartels into a new era of paramilitary forces. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
8/22/202344 minutes, 20 seconds
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Bootlegging All Over the World: Illegal Brews from North Korea to Pakistan

The term ‘rumrunning’ might be associated with Prohibition-era goons in the American Midwest. But bootlegging is alive and well today, and this week’s episode goes from Sean’s surprising discovery in western India, to a booze-inspired political execution in Pakistan, a Scot in Saudi shackles, homemade soju in Kuwait—and much more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
8/15/202341 minutes, 36 seconds
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The Brutal Burmese Human Trafficking Syndicates of Southeast Asia: Classic Underworld

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been made by a vicious network of organized crime figures throughout Southeast Asia by preying on what the United Nations has called "the most persecuted people in the world," the stateless and desperate Rohingya people. From the high rises of Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, we follow the transnational network that operates like a modern day slave trade, roping in politicians, police officials and high ranking members of militaries along the way. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
7/18/202354 minutes, 37 seconds
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A Romanian Mob Illicit Arms Deal With a Twist - with Trevor Aaronson

Trevor Aaronson is a contributing writer at The Intercept. The second season of his show Alphabet Boys digs into the strange story of Flaviu Georgescu, a Romanian-American “fixer” who got tangled up in Eastern European crime in Vegas, before falling prey to a DEA arms trafficking sting in Montenegro. The catch? He claims he was working for the CIA all along. And he may just have a point. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
7/10/202345 minutes, 21 seconds
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North Korea's Crypto Crimes: Special Episode from Click Here

We have a special episode swap from the good folks at the Click Here podcast. For years, North Korea was known for making such a perfect counterfeit hundred-dollar note, the Treasury Department had to change how it printed them. Now, North Korea is all about crypto – and it has been cooking up all kinds of crazy schemes in order to get the Big Score. Plus, we hear from a two-time North Korean defector. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
6/27/202323 minutes, 36 seconds
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Ridouan Taghi's Murderous Rampage, and the Cocaine Kings of Antwerp and Rotterdam - with Mitchell Prothero

Mitchell Prothero has been on the tail of Ridouan Taghi, the Mocro Mafia and the Marengo Trial for years—and he joins Sean to discuss "Gateway: Cocaine, Murder & Dirty Money in Europe", a podcast about every aspect of the so-called "super cartel" that has taken control of the world's most lucrative cocaine market. From Spanish boat crashes to doorstep hits, notorious bloggers and torture cells, this is a case that has blown away European conceits about its complicity in global organized crime. And Mitchell tells us how he came face-to-face with Taghi himself. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
6/20/20231 hour, 31 minutes, 10 seconds
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Gangsters of the East India Company and Robert Clive with William Dalrymple

WE'RE BACK! And coming to you from an estate outside Delhi, where Sean met author and historian William Dalrymple to talk (finally) about the early pirates, privateers and downright gangsters of the East India Company—a band of barely-legal spice merchants that wound up being just about the richest people on the planet, and owners—yes, owners—of an entire continent. We also dig into the life and times of Robert Clive, a brooding, violent man who would become one of the world's richest non-royals, and whose marauding exploits on the Indian subcontinent have made him a lightning rod for the cultures of Britain and modern India. War, loot, organized crime and weirdly enough, a Sliding Doors story for the mayflower. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
6/13/202349 minutes, 52 seconds
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Tiger Traffickers, Narco Zoos and the (Even Darker) Truth Behind Joe Exotic

In 2019 Sean spent weeks on the road between Oklahoma and Miami, investigating roadside zoo owner—and soon-to-be American icon—Joe Exotic. The truth was way, way darker than anything Netflix's Tiger King revealed. This week's episode also dives into ancient lion hunters, tiger-wielding mafiosos, and of course Pablo Escobar's "Cocaine Hippos". Plenty to sink your claws into. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
4/25/202344 minutes, 27 seconds
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The World's Most Powerful Cocaine Broker: Inside the 'Ndrangheta with Antonio Talia

In recent years, another one of Italy's feared criminal groups has risen above the Sicilian Mafia to become among the most powerful organized crime groups in the world: The Calabrian 'Ndrangheta. Started as a self-defense militia centuries ago to protect against pirates and raiders, the secretive society later morphed into a powerful group of bandits who made their bones through high profile, high profit kidnappings - like snatching the grandson of one of the richest men in the world. Soon enough, though, they wanted in on the real money, which means cocaine trafficking...and that's where Rocco Morabito excelled. Dubbed the cocaine king of Milan, he eventually became one of Italy's most wanted men and went on the run in South America for decades after brokering massive cocaine deals between the cartels and Italian organized crime groups, helping the Ndrangheta control the majority of Europe's cocaine trade. Calabrian crime reporter and journalist Antonio Talia, who grew up in the same area that Morabito hails from, takes us inside the Ndrangheta and the rise and fall of one of the world's biggest cocaine brokers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
4/18/20231 hour, 4 minutes, 22 seconds
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The Robber Baron Mafias of the Lawless Amazon Rainforest

Last year’s murders of journalist Dom Phillips, and indigenous rights campaigner Bruno Pereira, shocked Brazil and the world. But they were just one violent conclusion to a story of mafias of all stripes—from fish mobs and narcos to KKK-like ranchers and rubber barons—who’ve stalked the remotest corners of the Amazon Rainforest since the turn of the 20th century. Going from gold rushes to the death of famed eco-warrior Chico Mendes, it’s a tale of environmental crime and destruction, plus the growing threat of coca traffickers and urban gangsters, that didn’t just make Phillips’ and Pereira’s deaths a possibility—it made them near-certain. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
4/11/202353 minutes, 26 seconds
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The Time Sean Went to Burma to Find A Billion Dollar Meth Lab

The biggest drug cartel in the world isn't Mexican, or Colombian. It's Asian. Buried deep in the Burmese jungle are networks of cutting edge meth labs, guarded by rebels and run by kingpins so powerful they make El Chapo look like a corner boy. In 2019, Underworld cohost Sean Williams went looking for one of the billion dollar meth labs spending months on the Mekong, in lawless casinos and hunting a drug industry bigger than any other on earth...and now he's a dad! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
4/4/202348 minutes, 31 seconds
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The Golden Era of Clubs, Club Drugs, and Mafia Crews in NYC Nightlife to Miami and Back

In the 1990's, Manhattan's booming dance club scene was hit by two massive trends: Ecstasy and Techno. With the eye-patch wearing Canadian nightlife impresario Peter Gatien standing watch, massive clubs like limelight and Sound Factory became debaucherous drug dens ruled over by the ever-weirder club kids. Soon enough, though, a techno pioneer who would later go on to be involved with Wu Tang Clan saw the potential for massive profits and brought in roughneck junior mafia farm teams from south Brooklyn and Staten Island and things starting getting dark, quick. An infamous tabloid murder, a massive mafia bust and a lurid drug kingpin trial followed, but not before some of the major players relocated to Miami for a bit and made a name for themselves there. Once some former associates started talking, however, it all came crashing down, not just for Chris Paciello, but for the top level five family bosses he testified against. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/28/202354 minutes, 31 seconds
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A Brazilian Murder, Narco Evangelists and Holy Warfare: The Gangsters of the Global Pentecostal Movement

Pentecostalism has exploded everywhere—and with it a whole new wave of grifters, crooks and machine gun-toting zealots. Sean spoke to Elle Hardy, author of “Beyond Belief: How Pentecostal Christianity is Taking Over the World”, to learn about some of the movement’s less salubrious characters—beginning with the dark tale of a megapastor’s brutal slaying in Rio de Janeiro, and moving through Central America and even Papua New Guinea, where a new kind of theocratic gangster has emerged. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/21/202358 minutes, 24 seconds
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The Antwerp Diamond Heist and the Gads Hill Train Robbery: History Daily Swap

This week we bring you guys an episode swap with the good folks at History Daily. In the first segment on February 16, 2003, five thieves break into the vault of the Antwerp Diamond Centre and pull off one of the biggest heists in history. In the second, from January 31, 1874, the outlaw Jesse James and his gang pull off one of the most infamous crimes in the American Old West with the Gads Hill Train Robbery. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/14/202343 minutes, 3 seconds
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The Time the Mexican Army Ruined My Cartel Sleepover

Even the best laid plans of mice and men don't stand a chance when the federales get involved. In this episode, Danny recounts the time he linked up with a prominent member of the Sinaloa Cartel's Los Chapitos (El Chapo's kids) faction operating in the Mexican state of Sonora. As the head of the armed faction and a group called The Delta, El Durango was in the midst of a brutal war fighting the Caborca Cartel led by none other than Rafael Caro Quintero of Narcos Mexico fame, otherwise known as El Narco De Los Narcos. El Durango was keen on having visitors with video cameras over to his compound. Some other folks in Mexico, on the other hand, were not. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/7/202352 minutes, 50 seconds
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Underworld Special - On The Hunt for Himalayan Purple Haze in Nepal

For thousands of years, Nepali farmers grew some of the world’s trippiest marijuana, in Himalayan valleys so fertile they were considered sacred. In the 1960s western hippies flocked to capital city Kathmandu, and divined wisdom at the thick end of a hash pipe. Nepal was suddenly the world’s cannabis capital. Then Richard Nixon’s White House launched the War on Drugs, and pressured Nepal’s young king to ban the drug. Cops sent the hippies packing, and torched farmers’ cash crops. The result? Poverty, a black market in hard drugs—and a brutal Communist uprising that ripped through rural valleys like wildfire. Today, though, Nepal is poised to legalize weed once more. Sean took a trip from Kathmandu into the Himalayan foothills in search of OG Purple Haze with two former heroin addicts—and got way more than he bargained for. Sound design, scoring and production by the ever-brilliant Dale Eisinger. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2/21/202359 minutes, 10 seconds
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The Narco-paramilitaries of Northern Ireland

For generations, northern Ireland has been no stranger to armed militant groups willing to dispense violence. But whereas those groups once fought over political ideals, now they fight over drug routes and money. Since The Troubles ended and the Good Friday Agreement was signed, the battle-hardened youth of the north have started to put their skillset to use in the drug game. Journalist Adam Doyle breaks down the evolution of northern Ireland's new narco-paramilitaries and the frightening hold they have on their territory.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2/14/202349 minutes, 35 seconds
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Acid, Greasers, Hippies and Violence: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love

With slick hair, a wry smile and a penchant for violence, John Griggs was the picture of a Sixties California greaser. His gang caused chaos across Anaheim, and Griggs himself was a habitual user of hard drugs. Until, one night in 1966, they robbed a Hollywood pool party for its acid, Griggs took a bunch, and almost overnight pivoted to becoming one of America's leading proponents of psychadelics—right when hippie culture and the Summer of Love was at its peak. Griggs' cult-like Brotherhood of Eternal Love became a lodestar for America's counterculture—and a gigantic smuggling operation from Mexico and the States, to the so-called Hippie Trail, stashing Afghan and Nepali hash in cars, film reel cans or even surfboards before reaping the thousand-percent markup back home. Griggs' goal was to flood America with so much LSD that every man and woman would get high and help create a new, peaceful utopia. When renowned academic and acid-lover Timothy Leary joined Griggs' cause, the Brotherhood may have looked unstoppable. Then it was stung by disaster after disaster—from hardened criminals and police informants, to Leary's manic downfall and a plucky local cop named Neil Purcell. Part 1 of our show on the Brotherhood of Eternal Love charts John Griggs' irresistable rise to messianic stardom, and his group's creation of a new, potent acid named Orange Sunshine, just before his utopian vision began metastasizing into something most folks would later know as the "Hippie Mafia". Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2/7/202357 minutes, 8 seconds
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The Jamaican Posses Take Over America: Kings of the Crack Era

The Wall Street of Patrick Bateman was just ramping up, and rap had taken over the Bronx and Brooklyn as Jamaican-American deejays like Kool Herc were inventing and spreading the new genre. But there was another group of Jamaicans that had come to America with a different plan. As the Cold War played out in 1970’s Jamaica, the two main political parties competing for the country each had a street gang they used to get the vote out in certain neighborhoods and keep the vote from getting out in others. The street gangs grew powerful and skilled in violence, but soon turned their attention from politics to getting paid. And that meant cocaine, and getting cocaine onto American streets. Rival crews like the infamous Shower Posse and the Spangler Posse set up shop all over the East Coast and then the heartland during the heydey of the crack era and soon turned their guns on each other, driving the murder rate to unprecedented heights and fighting bloody battles all over the east coast.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/31/202353 minutes, 22 seconds
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Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta vs the Good Mothers with Alex Perry

For decades the ‘Ndrangheta rose to become the world’s most powerful organized crime group—and barely anybody knew who they were. Then the deaths and defiance of women trapped in their medieval, ultra-patriarchal systems exposed the grim truth behind the ‘Ndrangheta’s centuries-old myths. Alex Perry, author of The Good Mothers, joins us to speak about his discoveries writing the book, Mafia fact and fiction—and the dreaded “Lupara Bianca”, or “White Shotgun”. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/24/202351 minutes, 52 seconds
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The Rise of Jamaica's Warring Gangs & Bob Marley's Attempted Assassination

In the 1960's, Jamaica's leading politicians saw an opportunity in the street gangs that were forming up in Kingston's slums. Pretty soon, each gang leader, known as a don, had a political party backing him that came calling whenever they needed some dirty work done, some votes turned out or an opposition neighborhood attacked. In exchange, the dons received favors, money and guns, turned their neighborhoods into garrisons and went to war with each other. With the cold war looming in the background, the violence reached a level that shocked everyone...but no one could have expected it would lead to the world's most iconic Jamaican being shot down in his own home.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/17/202350 minutes, 10 seconds
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Australia's Brutal Gang Families Waging War in Sydney

Sydney has long been Australia’s “Sin City”, a pot of gold for crooks with the right connections and friends in the police. But over the past two years an altogether more deadly war has broken out for control of the city’s streets, pitting two Lebanese families and so-called “Postcode Gangs” in a feud that has shocked the nation. And at the top of it all is a fearsome biker-in-exile who has risen beyond even the Italian mob. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/10/202356 minutes, 4 seconds
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The International Kingpins: Montreal's Rizzuto Family

International organized crime has rarely seen a figure as powerful and connected as Vito Rizzuto, Montreal's underworld king. When his father Nic left Italy for Montreal with his 8-year-old son, Nic was a small-timer looking to capitalize on his family connections and Sicilian upbringing. With the Calabrians and Sicilians at each other's necks in Canada's vice capital, Nic eventually worked his way to the top of Montreal's underworld in no small part due to his in-law mafioso contacts in drug trafficking hubs like Venezuela and Sicily. Montreal's heroin king partnered with New York's La Cosa Nostra while paving the way for his son Vito to take over, and Vito proved to be even more capable than his father, doing business with organized crime groups everywhere from Lebanon to China to Venezuela and uniting Montreal's warring factions into a massive unified front...before it all came crashing down. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/3/202358 minutes, 3 seconds
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How FIFA’s Godfather and Brazil’s Biggest Gangster Forged a Deadly Alliance, ft. Conor Powell

Castor de Andrade might just be the most powerful mobster you’ve never heard of. Born into a life of crime in Rio’s suburbs, he graduated from local lotteries to an empire encompassing Cali and Sicily—and he had his own soccer club. Even Brazil’s military dictators were terrified of Castor. But that didn’t scare off Joao Havelange, son of a gun-runner and a successful businessman who, as chief of FIFA, took a parochial, Eurocentric sport and turned it into a global powerhouse. But as Castor, the country’s “Carnival King”, began eliminating his rivals, the relationship with soccer’s most powerful man turned it—and the game—into something very different. As journalist Conor Powell, host of the Lords of Soccer podcast, tells us, it was a trend that has only gotten bigger today Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
12/20/202248 minutes, 32 seconds
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Introducing: The Last Resort

The Last Resort explores big, crazy, dangerous ideas – ideas that no one took seriously, but which may now be our best options. What would actually happen if we put these ideas into practice? In season one, we ask: what if California seceded from the United States? To do so, we follow the rise and messy fall of Yes! California, the state’s most prominent independence movement. The Last Resort is a timely exploration of political polarization in America, at a time when many Americans feel anxious about the future and don’t understand – at all – the people on the other side of the aisle. With the mid-term elections looming, and actual sitting members of Congress calling for a “national divorce,” we indulge the fantasy of escaping it all. Could we just wipe the slate clean and start over? https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-last-resort/id1644754112 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
12/18/20226 minutes, 14 seconds
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Japanese Schoolgirl Gangs and Kamikaze Bikers: How an Assassin’s Sword Kicked off a Criminal CountercultureDraft Episode for Dec 13, 2022

When a fascist killer plunged his sword into Japan’s socialist leader on live TV, few could have predicted its consequences. But gangs of sailor-suited ‘girl bosses’ and pompadour-wearing, ex-kamikaze fighting bikers probably weren’t top of the list. Then again who’d expect Japanese youth, rallying against Yakuza mobsters and corrupt politicians, to birth individuals less mad than Bosos who scream ‘Doki-Doki’ at their foes, and a boss called K-Ko and her weaponized bra? (It’ll make sense in the show we promise) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
12/13/202252 minutes, 55 seconds
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Sex Money Murda, Pistol Pete and the United Blood Nation (and Young Thug!)

This is the story of Pistol Pete, one of the most revered killers to ever walk the streets of New York City, who found infamy after the small click he founded in the Bronx, Sex Money Murda, linked up with a newly burgeoning prison gang federation called the United Blood Nation. Together, both groups would spread up and down the east coast and have such a powerful influence in the streets than 30 years later, one of rap's biggest stars would be linked to them after a massive gang arrest in Atlanta. For bonus episodes, subscribe on itunes or on Patreon at patreon.com/theunderworldpodcast. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
12/6/202255 minutes, 46 seconds
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Scammers, Traffickers and Bribes: The Dirty, Criminal Secrets Plaguing FIFA’s World Cup in Qatar - featuring Philippe AuclairDraft Episode for Nov 29, 2022

As things heat up in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, Sean meets soccer journalist Philippe Auclair in a London pub (of course) to talk about the many crimes stalking the Beautiful Game—from bribery and fraud within FIFA, to the covered-up deaths of workers in Doha, and crypto and betting scams that have slipped into the sport’s top tiers. Subscribe for bonuses on Itunes and Patreon.com/Theunderworldpodcast Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/29/20221 hour, 12 minutes, 54 seconds
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The Brazilian Prison Gang Dominating South America: The PCC

In less than 3 decades, a Brazilian gang formed during a prison soccer tournament has become one of, if not the most powerful gang in all of Latin America, branching out from the jails cells, to the streets of Sao Paolo, to all over Latin America and working hand in hand with groups like the Ndranghetta, Russian mobsters, and a who’s who of global organized crime. This is the story of how the PCC, or The First Command of the Capital, took on the Brazilian state with everything from riots to attacks on police stations, holding the entire city of Sao Paolo, population 20 million, hostage and has since grown outwards in unrivaled expansion. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/22/202259 minutes, 18 seconds
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BONUS: George Chidi on Atlanta's Rap Murder Spree

Sean met Atlanta crime reporter George Chidi to talk about the city's rap labels and their role in its spiraling gang violence—from Young Thug and Lil Baby to the even more extreme drill scene, and the corruption, poverty and racism that underpins a murder rate far beyond Chicago's. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/1/202234 minutes, 57 seconds
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Update: Sean *Did Not* Get Kidnapped for Unpaid Cricket Bets

We've got new episodes ready to go. We hear you guys. SOON. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
10/7/20224 minutes, 3 seconds
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The Slave Armies Powering a New Kind of Golden Triangle Cybercrime

When the pandemic took punters from Southeast Asia’s most notorious gambling dens, their gangster owners turned to the web, entrapping thousands of unwitting slaves and putting them to work in high-rises, aiming to scam western marks out of millions. Nathan Paul Southern and Lindsey Kennedy took a trip along the Mekong this summer. What they discovered was incredible and tragic in equal measure—and few are doing anything to combat it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
8/10/202255 minutes, 58 seconds
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Felix Mitchell:The Druglord That Took On The Black Panthers, and Oakland's Kingpin Wars

Felix "The Cat" Mitchell was like nothing Oakland had ever seen before. He took over the city's heroin market from, wholesale to retail, driving exotic cars through some of the grittiest streets in America, flanked by his assault rifle carrying lieutenants while keeping massive housing projects locked down like fortresses while dripped out in full length fur jackets and glittering diamonds. He also donated to charities and passed out cash all over east Oakland before it all came crashing down, after his crew attracted a little too much attention from the feds with what came to be known as Oakland’s Bloody August. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
8/3/202244 minutes, 25 seconds
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The Death of "God's Banker", the Vatican, a Pope's Murder, Mafia Plots and a Secret Masonic Coup

When Roberto Calvi's body was found swinging from a London bridge in 1982 it sent shockwaves through the religious, financial and criminal worlds. But who killed him? And how are the Vatican, Italy's powerful Mafia, a secret society called P2 and a Pope's death all linked in this wild, barely believable web of deceit and dollars? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
7/28/202256 minutes, 43 seconds
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The Jewish & Redneck Gangsters that Beat the KKK: Charlie Birger w/ Jake Hanrahan

In the era of prohibition, Charlie Birger built a bootlegging and gambling empire in southern Illinois, otherwise known as little Cairo. He charmed women, passed out money to children and poor families, bought off all the police and politicians...and killed anyone who got in his way. But he wasn't the only building an army in 1920's rural Illinois. The second iteration of the Ku Klux Klan was on the rise and enacting their own version of vigilante justice, attacking bootleggers, immigrants, and anyone who didn't fit into their version of America. The Birger Gang wasn't having it. War was coming. Danny is joined by Jake Hanrahan of Popular Front. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
7/20/202255 minutes, 34 seconds
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Vladimir Putin, the KGB and the German Nazi Gangster Who Was a Communist Spy

Rainer Sonntag was just your run-of-the-mill, anti-state East German petty criminal—until a black ops team headed by then-KGB agent Vladimir Putin helped turn him into one of Europe's leading neo-Nazi leaders. When the Berlin Wall fell, Putin fled to Saint Petersburg and Sonntag returned to his hometown of Dresden. There he led a gang of skinhead thugs to shake down and beat up foreigners. But when he targeted a downtown brothel, things got bloody real quick. Then he and Putin's legacies really began. Read more about Putin, Sonntag and their violent rises to power in Sean's story for The Atavist, "Follow the Leader" - https://magazine.atavist.com/follow-the-leader-nazi-putin-sonntag-cold-war/ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
7/12/202249 minutes, 57 seconds
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Chechen Mobsters, Bombs, Bumps and Special Ops: The Criminal Tale of Caviar

Caviar has been considered a delicacy since ancient times. But when the Soviet Union collapsed, a black market flourished—and kicked off gang wars along the coasts of the Caspian Sea. Then, years later, the caviar mafia came to a tiny Missouri town. But its maritime mobsters hadn't reckoned with an experienced undercover cop and an ingenious plan that would snag them hook, line and sinker. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
7/5/202249 minutes, 50 seconds
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The Punjabi Indian Gangster Rapper Killed in a Gang War: Moosewala

Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, better known as Moosewala, was on the cusp of becoming a global superstar. Racking up billions of views on youtube, the Punjabi rapper heavily influenced by Tupac had blown up since arriving in Canada as an international student in 2016. His lyrics about gangsters, guns, and everything that went with it in rural Punjab struck a cord with listeners around the globe. But he wasn't without controversy, sometimes running afoul of the law in India, his shows erupting in violence in Canada. And rumors followed of his involvement in a growing gang war in northern India. And then he got gunned down a month ago in a professional, highly coordinated hit. In the weeks that follow, there will be facebook posts from gangsters claiming credit, big arrests, interrogations, even a shooter caught hiding out with religious pilgrims, and what begins to unravel is a complex web of a gang war ranging from Canada to India that has a man with 700 soldiers at the center of the assassination of a rap superstar turned politician on the cusp of global superstardom Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
6/28/202245 minutes, 36 seconds
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The Bank of the Underworld: Kingpins, Arms Traffickers, Pablo Escobar and Saddam Hussein

The Bank of Credit and Commerce International was headed by a messianic, Karachi financier named Agha Hasan Abedi, with deep, deep connections all round the world. So deep, in fact, that nearly every criminal mastermind and corrupt ruler in the world used his bank as it went deeper and deeper, turning into a 20 billion dollar bank of the underworld. Abedi had connections to intelligence chiefs and politicians, including officials as far as London and Washington in his deep, deep pockets. His client list, said critics, included the world’s most notorious despots and criminal kingpins—Noriega, Ferdinand Marcos, Saddam Hussein, Pablo Escobar. Some had another name for BCCI - the Bank of Crooks and Criminals—that is, if they live to tell the tale. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
6/21/202256 minutes, 18 seconds
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The Cartel Heroin Queenpin Who Ran Juarez for 50 Years with Benjamin Smith

Before El Mencho or El Chapo, even before Pablo Escobar, there was Ignacia Jasso, otherwise known as “La Nacha.” She was the Queen Pin of Juárez who ran the border heroin trade for 50 years from 1930 to 1980. Declared public enemy number one by the Americans, she still managed to escape the law by pretending to be an evangelical Christian and with the help of some extremely crafty lawyering. Danny is joined by Benjamin Smith, author of The Dope: The Real History of the Mexican Drug Trade to talk La Nacha. Buy The Dope: https://www.amazon.com/Dope-Secret-History-Mexican-Trade-ebook/dp/B08CZ2BW3T Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
6/14/202242 minutes, 51 seconds
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Fentanyl's Surge from China To Mexico to St Louis

Over the last three years there's been an explosion of fentanyl on the streets of America and it's led to over 100,000 Americans dying from drug overdoses, the overwhelming majority because of fent. In this episode, Sean lays out the way producers in China have connected with Mexican drug cartels from shipping precursors to laundering money, where Danny speaks on the effects he's seen in the streets of St. Louis. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
6/7/202252 minutes, 38 seconds
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Who Rules Porn? From Hot Money

We’re shaking things up today and sharing a preview from Hot Money, a new podcast from our friends at Pushkin Industries and the Financial Times. When Financial Times reporter Patricia Nilsson started digging into the porn industry, she made a shocking discovery: Nobody knew who controlled the biggest porn company in the world. Now, Nilsson and her editor, Alex Barker, have figured out who the guy was, and much more. Their reporting reveals a shadowy power structure that includes billionaires, tech geniuses and the most powerful finance companies in the world. You can hear more from Hot Money at https://podcasts.pushkin.fm/hotmoney?sid=underworld. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
6/7/202213 minutes, 22 seconds
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Belize's Gangster Politics and Ukraine's Battle for the Donbas

In this episode, Sean gets into the details about his story for Rolling Stone on Jamal "Shyne" Barrow, the rapper turned prime minister favorite in Belize, from the narco-trafficking taking place to the street side gang wars. Danny reports on Ukraine's intensifying war in the east of the country, and what he's seen on the front lines. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
5/31/202246 minutes, 24 seconds
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A Sicilian Rugby Team Fighting the Mafia - And Ukraine Update

Danny's in Ukraine, and Sean's cover story at Sports Illustrated—about a Sicilian rugby team facing down the Mafia—just dropped. So we're combining the two, first with a rundown of Danny's movements in Kharkiv and beyond - then with an SI Weekly audio documentary about the rugby feature. That part chronicles the trials and tribulations of Briganti, a club in the depressed neighborhood of Librino, "Catania's Bronx", that has fallen prey to Cosa Nostra mobsters in recent years. Founded to keep kids away from crime, the club has come under heavy fire: its clubhouse was torched, team bus destroyed, equipment stolen and bullets fired into its changing room door. But it's going strong—in no small part to a short, bushy-haired agronomist who saw a chance to pull locals off the corners with sport. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
5/11/202231 minutes, 40 seconds
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Daniel Kinahan, Tyson Fury and the Irish Drug Cartel that Built a Boxing Empire - with Nicola Tallant

For years, Dublin-born Daniel Kinahan built on the work of his heroin-lord father Christy, aka the Dapper Don, to become one of the world's biggest cocaine kingpins. Kinahan fostered some of boxing's brightest talents, including world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury via his Marbella, Spain-based promotion firm and gym, MGM. But in 2016 assassins came for Kinahan on his home turf, kicking off a gang war and sending his cartel into a tailspin. Kinahan decamped to Dubai (where else), and MGM's promotions became MTK...but it continued as the latest in a long line of mob ties with boxing going back to the Luccheses in NYC. Last month the US Treasury slapped a $5m reward on Kinahan's head. Soon after, UAE authorities froze his accounts. Now he's on the run—but his fighters are still going strong. How did one of Europe's top mobsters get such a firm grip on the boxing world? And will Daniel Kinahan live out his fugitive days on an Afghan compound? We spoke to journalist and author Nicola Tallant, who's reported on the Kinahans for years, to find out more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
4/26/202255 minutes, 15 seconds
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The Shady World of Cryonics: Missing Heads, Bank Robbers and an Italian Funeral Mogul

We're joined by journalist and writer Peter Ward, whose upcoming book The Price of Immortality: The Race to Live Forever is out this week. Since the times of Gilgamesh, humans have dreamed of living forever. Since the 1960s, when the son of a bank-robbing mobster froze a psychologist (then lost him), cryonics has been touted as a way to be reanimated in decades, or centuries, from now. Except that, as you might expect, cryonics is a shady world populated by hucksters, crooks and, in one, crazy case, a warring Russian couple who employed the services of a Calabrian funeral magnate. Sounds fishy? It is. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
4/19/20221 hour, 5 minutes, 23 seconds
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Murder Inc: The Jewish & Italian Hit Squad that Terrorized the US

In the 1920's, high level gangsters like Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky had a plan to bring some semblance of order to the underworld. Together with a few other kingpins, they formed the Syndicate: a collection of the most powerful organized crime figures across the country that operated like a corporation with a board of directors that voted on everything related to gangsters. To make sure their judgments were respected, they needed an enforcement arm. Enter Murder Incorporated. Emerging from the Happy Maione's Ocean Hill Hooligans and Abe "Kid Twist" Reles Brownsville Troop, this collection of Jewish and Italian hit men would bring new meaning to the term "contract killer," dropping upwards of a thousand bodies across the country in a 10 year span as they carried out the Syndicate's bidding. Men like Harry "Pittsburgh Phil" Strauss, otherwise known as Pep, who had a confirmed 30 hits and might have had as many as 100, became some of the most prolific killers the world of organized crime has ever seen. Based on the books "Tough Jews" by Rich Cohen and "Murder, Inc" by Burton Turkus. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
4/12/20221 hour, 2 minutes, 32 seconds
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TEASER: From Cautionary Tales: Death on the Floor

Here’s a special preview of the new season of Cautionary Tales from Pushkin Industries. On Cautionary Tales, bestselling author Tim Harford shares stories of human error, natural disasters, and tragic catastrophes from history that teach us important lessons for today. In this preview, you’ll hear about the 1981 Hyatt Regency Hotel collapse, a shocking design failure that resulted in 114 deaths and many more injuries. Hear the full story, and more from Cautionary Tales, at https://podcasts.pushkin.fm/ctunderworld. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
4/7/202211 minutes, 53 seconds
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Whitey Bulger, Jai Alai, the Winter Hill Gang, & the Tycoon Murder that Stunned America

*Note: technical difficulties with Sean's microphone this episode, apologies* By the late Seventies Jai Alai, a superfast, racketball-like sport, had become one of the US’ most lucrative betting markets. That attracted Roger Wheeler, a mega-rich Tulsa tycoon, to pour millions into the game. It was also riddled with crime. Boston’s Irish Mob, led by the bloodthirsty James “Whitey” Bulger, would make a mint skimming its earnings and building an underworld empire off Jai Alai’s back. Then Wheeler figured out his latest investment was rotten. Bulger sprang into action, launching a campaign of terror that would claim several lives in gruesome fashion. Eventually, the Jai Alai slayings would bring down drug barons, dirty cops and dozens of New England’s biggest gangsters. Ja Alai wouldn’t fare much better. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/29/202248 minutes, 59 seconds
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Lord of the Skies: The Man Who United Mexico's Cartels

We're joined by author Noah Hurowitz to tell the story of Amado Carrillo Fuentes, one of the most powerful narco-traffickers to every live, with an estimated fortune of 25 billion dollars. After having spent his youth learning the ways from the old guard of top-level drug lords, he rose to the top of the Juarez Cartel and became infamous for the fleet of jets he used to transport tons and tons of cocaine. He also became known for his business savvy and negotiation skills, bribing police, military, judges and politicians at the highest level while uniting various traffickers into a federation of cartels. His downfall, though, came at the hands of a hapless plastic surgeon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/22/202248 minutes, 40 seconds
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PATREON TEASER: A Former Gangster on his Life in Belize City's Crips - and how Cartels are Changing Everything

Here's a little teaser from this week's patreon episode, with Sean on the ground in Belize doing a bigger story and sharing some of his work along the way. To get access to bonus episodes for $5 a month, go to www.patreon.com/theunderworldpodcast "John" grew up on the violent South Side of Belize City in the early 2000s, when a vicious turf war between Crips and Bloods tore up the neighborhood. Nowadays, with guns readily available and cartels lurking, it's a different, more dangerous scene. Part of a series on the Central American nation's struggles with organized crime (sorry about the breaks and occasional bus). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/14/202210 minutes, 41 seconds
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The Brutal Russian Mafia Wars of Tolyatti, Russia's Detroit

In the 1980s, as the Soviet empire crumbled, organized criminals eyed up the sprawling VAZ automobile plant in the city of Tolyatti, “Russia’s Detroit.” When it collapsed all hell broke loose. Old-school “thimble kings” battled it out with bodybuilding skinheads, Chechen paramilitaries and the Volgas, partying hotheads who’d become a fearsome mob, for supremacy over one of Russia’s most fabled companies. It’d take hundreds of deaths and Kremlin SWAT teams to bring the bloodshed to an end. A story that we don’t think has been reported in English before, the Tolyatti Car Gang Wars are one of Russian crime’s bloodiest episodes. And given the terrible things they’re doing now, that says a lot. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/8/202248 minutes, 4 seconds
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Carjacking and Fentanyl: Down and Out in Philadelphia & St. Louis

In this episode thrown together because of a last-minute delay, Danny recounts recent reporting trips to Philadelphia and St. Louis. 2021 saw Philadelphia hit it's highest murder total in history, with 560 homicides when the previous high was only 500. Driving the inordinate amount of gun violence is the Kensington neighborhood, home to the largest open air drug market in the United States that is said to generate over one billion dollars in sales. We also dive into the making of a short documentary on fentanyl in St. Louis, which has quickly come to dominate the entire drug market, and a street dealer gives us the lowdown on his business. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2/22/202253 minutes, 28 seconds
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The Wild Cowboys of Washington Heights: NYC's Most Dangerous Crack-era Gang

New York City in the late 1980's and early 1990's was a war zone. The crack era ushered in a record number of murders, topping 2,000 some years, as gangs battled for control of million-dollar corners. One crew stood out among all the crews of killers: The Wild Cowboys, a group of former high school friends who used their connections to the Dominican Republic to expand their territory in the South Bronx. Led by the notorious Sepulveda brothers and following in the footsteps of the Washington Heights-based dealer who allegedly introduced crack to the Big Apple , they left no witnesses or competitors breathing...until a wanton act of violence on the West Side Highway tipped off investigators and led to their downfall. Get Surfshark VPN at https://surfshark.deals/UNDWRLD - Enter promo code UNDWRLD for 83% off and 3 extra months free! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2/15/202250 minutes, 12 seconds
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Colombia's Narco-Soccer: Pablo Escobar, Los Pepes, and the Murder of The Gentleman

In the early Nineties Colombia had one of the world’s best soccer teams. Some even tipped them for 1994’s World Cup in the USA. But the country’s narco mayhem would come crashing down on the squad long before the tournament began. And for the nation’s captain, a tall, stoic defender from Medellin they called ‘The Gentleman’, one on-field mistake would have fatal consequences back home. Featuring gunned-down referees, a deadly cross-country rivalry, Pepes, Pablo and a kidnap-mediating, scorpion-kicking goalkeeper. Get Surfshark VPN at https://surfshark.deals/UNDWRLD - Enter promo code UNDWRLD for 83% off and 3 extra months free! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2/8/202254 minutes, 45 seconds
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Glasgow's Ice Cream Wars: Drugs, Police Framing, and Soft Serve

As badly-planned 1960s projects pushed Glasgow's poorest people to the city's fringes, ice cream vans became a lifeline, delivering food, drink and cigarettes. Before long, gangsters got in on the act, packing out vans with drugs, guns and stolen goods. A war between the city's hell-bent, crucifying 'Godfather' and pretenders to his throne ensued. But it was mostly beer-money "frighteners" and smashed windows. Until somebody committed mass murder, and sent the city into a tailspin. What Glasgow's underworld did next would define Scottish crime for decades. What the police did, might just be worse. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/31/20221 hour, 1 minute, 23 seconds
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The Raskol Gangs of Port Moresby: Tribal Wars, Street Battles and Homemade Guns in Papua New Guinea

The ‘raskol’ gangs that terrorize Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea’s chaotic capital city, have their roots in the isolated, rainforest conflicts of dozens of tribes vying for control of lucrative mineral wealth. But drugs, guns and government corruption means that today’s gang bust-ups, and clan come-tos, are virtually indistinguishable - and threaten to tear the Pacific nation apart. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/25/202248 minutes, 42 seconds
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SPECIAL PROMO: From Deep Cover: Who Was Bob Cooley?

SPECAL PROMO: Deep Cover tells true stories of crime and corruption. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jake Halpern reveals dark underworlds most of us know nothing about. The new season, Mob Land, tells the true story of a high-rolling Chicago lawyer who fixed court cases for the mob. He did this for years... until he decided to betray them and work with the FBI. He wears a wire to expose a black market of corruption—where politicians were bought and justice was sold. Where, for the right price, even murderers could walk free... With first-hand interviews from FBI agents, mobsters, family members, and criminals, the story is truly a wild journey into a world of corruption, murder and deceit. Today, we're sharing a preview of Episode 1. You can listen to the new Deep Cover season now at https://link.chtbl.com/underworlddeepcover Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/24/202211 minutes, 43 seconds
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The Punjabi Mafia and the Indian-Canadian Celeb Hitman Bindy Johal

In Vancouver and the little known city of Surrey, violent gang wars between rival factions in the Indo-Canadian Sikh community has seen upwards of 200 young men killed in the last 25 years, as bloody battles fought in nightclubs and bars have seen gunshots ring out as crews of contract killers make their presence felt. Surprisingly, many of these gang members come from middle class families in well to do neighborhoods. The community traces this all back to one man: the swaggering and deadly Bindy Johal, who issued threats live in-studio on newscasts, got off on a murder trial after one of his co-defendants seduced a juror, and assembled his own hit squad that did dozens of contract killings. To some he's a folk hero, but to most of the community he's a terrifying scourge whose brutal legacy refuses to fade away. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/18/202251 minutes, 52 seconds
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El Mencho and CJNG: Mexico's Most Wanted and Sadistic Narco

He’s a recluse, a cockfighting high-roller, a former cop and a maniac. But will Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, aka El Mencho, do what he’s been threatening for years and become the most powerful cartel boss on the planet? From avocados to abogados, weed to coke to fentanyl, Mencho is a narco so bloodthirsty his men are compared to ISIS. Can the Mexican state cut him down to size? Or will a lifelong quest to build a citadel in his home state of Michoacan come off, ruling local civilians with a sadistic iron fist? We look at the past, present and future of who might just be the scariest criminal we’re profiled on this show. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/11/202255 minutes
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Born To Kill: The Vietnamese Refugee Gang that Terrorized the US

In the late 1980's, a new gang threw asian immigrant communities across America into chaotic spurts of violence. They were brutal, they were vicious, and they weren't going to play by any of the rules set by any of the established organized crime players. Born To Kill emerged from Vietnam's Lost Generation: child war refugees, often times orphans, who had been left to fend for themselves without any support or protection. Led by the charismatic and cult-leader like David Thai, the gang would wreak havoc across the country, dropping bodies and terrorizing people at a level previously unseen in Chinatown. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/4/20221 hour, 1 minute, 18 seconds
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Sergeant Smack, Frank Lucas, and the Bangkok Heroin Corpse Connection

Leslie "Ike" Atkinson rose from Army sergeant to international casino hustler, to Bangkok bar owner and quarterback of one of the biggest heroin smuggling rings in history. Recruiting disillusioned black Vietnam vets from his Harlem-themed joint, Ike trafficked billions of dollars of ultra-pure Golden Triangle dope into the States - right under the nose of Uncle Sam. But did he ever smuggle heroin stitched into the bodies of fallen war heroes? This episode focuses on one of organized crime's most interesting, but least known, kingpins. And despite what Frank Lucas claimed, New Jersey's infamous "Superfly" was little more than a starry-eyed bit-part player. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
12/21/202152 minutes, 33 seconds
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50th Episode/holiday Q+A Special!!!

We meant to get this up a few episodes back for the 50th episode special but figured it would work for the holidays. Danny and Sean go through all the questions they've received from listeners about the podcast, their careers, and Sean's crippling gambling debts. If you've ever wondered what sort of cricket bets can cost you a finger, this is the episode for you. We'll be back next week with regular eps! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
12/14/202158 minutes, 1 second
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Can a Former Gangster Rapper Stop Belize's Deadly Bloods vs Crips Wars?

In Belize City, rival factions of Bloods and Crips clicks have turned the south side of the city into one of the most violent cities on earth in an endless cycle of retaliation. The violence in Belize took off in the 80's and 90's after Belizean immigrants who had joined various Bloods and Crips sets in LA's then burgeoning gang scene got arrested and deported. They brought the gang culture with them to this small, sleepy Central America/Caribbean nation. They also brought the violence, which Belize's overmatched and underfunded police seem powerless to stop. Now Jamal "Shyne" Barrow, a Belizean-American former protege of Sean P Diddy Combs who once served 9 years in prison for shooting up a nightclub in New York City, has joined his political dynasty family in politics and hopes to be the one to finally talk some sense into the warring gang members who have turned Belize City into a bloodbath. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
12/7/202157 minutes, 23 seconds
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How Meth Turned New Zealand's Biker Gang Scene Upside Down: Mongrels, Black Power and Killer Beez

For decades, New Zealand's biker gangs fought each other for turf, cash and kudos. Violence between its two biggest outfits, the Mongrel Mob and Black Power, often turned deadly, and acts of cruelty shocked the public. Then, in the mid-90s, a new, potent drug worth billions arrived on the country's pristine shores - and with it a wave of foreign narcos looking to take control of what might be the world's most profitable black market. The gangs gave thousands of disaffected Maori and Pacific Islanders an identity. Meth—known locally as P—changed everything. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/30/202158 minutes, 48 seconds
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West Africa's Cocaine Empire: Guinea Bissau's True Narco State Status

Does any country deserve the title of narco-state more than tiny Guinea-Bissau? The West African nation has become the beating heart of the global cocaine trade, with political leaders serving as little more than pawns in a trade that transformed its cashew coast into a gangster’s paradise. And it doesn’t even have any proper prisons! We explore street fights, assassinations, DEA plots, Colombian conspiracies - and a round-bellied former military chief that totally _isn’t_ a druglord, pinky promise. A truly incredible melting pot of crime on the streets of whose tumbledown capital city cocaine bricks, not banknotes, have become the principle currency. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/23/202151 minutes, 3 seconds
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The Gangs Controlling Haiti: A Dead President, Amish Hostages, and a Psycho Named BBQ

A President assassinated. Amish missionaries from Ohio held for million dollar ransoms (per person!). A former cop named Barbecue turned vicious gang leader in the slums claiming to be a revolutionary with aspirations of political power. And a country held hostage by warring street gangs who now control more than half of the capital city and the flow of essential goods. This is the story of how Haiti's gangs were nurtured by the political and business elite, only to grow so powerful that they turned on their former patrons and now control the country. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/16/202154 minutes, 28 seconds
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Gangs of England: The Real Peaky Blinders and the Racecourse Wars

On the smog-filled streets of industrial Birmingham, groups of ‘Peaky Blinders’ earned a reputation as Britain’s most feared gang, terrorizing anybody who stepped in their paths with bats, blades and whatever else they could get their hands on. They ruled the UK’s second city until the turn of the century. Led by Anglo-Irish prizefighter Billy Kimber, what followed them was even more fearsome. The ‘Brummagems’ forged alliances with London crews, robbed the rich and ran Britain’s ultra-lucrative horse racing courses. They couldn’t hold the throne for long. Italian Londoners and a long-suffering Jewish bookmaker helped launch the ‘Racecourse Wars’ of the 1920s, pitting brutalized World War I veterans against each other in mob clashes the likes of which the country had never before seen. Decades later Kimber and his Birmingham boys would be immortalized in the hit TV show Peaky Blinders. But the truth may just be stranger than the fiction. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/9/202149 minutes, 23 seconds
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The Rise and Recent Capture of Colombia's Most Brutal Narco, Otoniel, w/ Toby Muse

Out there in the jungle, something evil and powerful grows. This is the story of Dairo Antonio Usaga, better known as Otoniel, Colombia’s most wanted drug trafficker for a decade. A communist guerrilla turned right wing death squad leader turned cartel boss, he was known for his massacres and predilection for underage girls. He was also known to be particularly brutal, in a way that shocked even other narcos, and he had been hunted by the largest search operation in Colombia’s history for 6 years when he was finally caught 2 weeks ago, deep in the jungles of northwestern Colombia. Tracing his rise and fall with special guest Toby Muse, this is the story of the next evolution of cartel leaders. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/2/20211 hour, 7 minutes, 2 seconds
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The Out of Control Arab Israeli Crime Clans Driving the Murder Rate Sky-High

In the last 5 years, murders in what's known as Israel's Arab sector have increased 50%, setting new records every year as criminal clans and organized crime have turned cities and towns into fiefdoms run by powerful gangsters who operate with impunity, where guns do most of the talking and Israel’s police are stuck trying to take back territory they abandoned. The clans have moved from extortion and drug smuggling to completely taking over municipal governments where they use shell companies to give themselves hugely profitable government contracts. Local politicians who get in the way have been killed, their families threatened, and attacks have gotten so brazen that even rivals traveling under police escort have been murdered. This week we are joined again by Ben Hartman, a former crime reporter in Israel who last guested on our "Car Bomb Wars of the Israeli Mafia" episode. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
10/26/20211 hour, 14 minutes, 32 seconds
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The Burmese Heroin Jungle Kingpin & the Transgender Opium Queen

Khun Sa was a mercenary, a rebel, a warlord and a freedom fighting drugmaker who all-but created the modern heroin industry in the wake of the Vietnam War’s smack epidemic. At one point, the Shan hero, his fiefdom buried deep in the Burmese brush, supplied three quarters of all the gear in America. No wonder Washington called him the ‘Prince of Death.’ But Khun Sa’s path was actually paved by a princess, who eschewed a life of Kokang royalty to become a gun-toting shaven-headed, trans opium kingpin. Few dared to mess with Miss Hairy Legs, who dated Hollywood stars and went everywhere with a cigarette-carrying lackey. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
10/19/202153 minutes, 1 second
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NY’s Chinatown Wars: Ghost Shadows, Hong Kong Triads, Tongs, and the China White Heroin Connection

When Nicky Louie stalked the streets in the 1970's, he was the first gangster to scare Chinatown in decades. At only 22-years-old, he led his gang of gun-toting teen hitmen known as the Ghost Shadows in countless shootouts against the Flying Dragons. Both street gangs were linked up with the established and secretive community groups known as Tongs that had been operating and controlling Chinatown since the 1890's. Together, the gangs and tongs ran the protection and gambling rackets, getting a piece of every single business in the neighborhood. But when the tongs linked up with Hong Kong Triads, who themselves had linked up with Burmese opium growers churning out the 95% pure heroin known as China White, things really got interesting. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
10/11/20211 hour, 1 minute, 47 seconds
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BONUS PATREON EPISODE: Knives, Drugs, and Albanian Takeovers in London with Max Daly

Something a little different this week: No regular episode but we've decided to put the patreon bonus episode up for free. Max Daly, based in London, is the Global Drugs Editor for VICE. The Orwell Prize-winning investigative journalist has freelanced for The Guardian, BBC, Independent and other publications, and his 2013 book _Narcomania_ explored Britain’s booming drug scene. Sean spoke to Max about London’s drug and knife crime explosion, county lines—and how the government has failed to act—Albanian takeovers and something called ‘cuckooing.’ Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
10/7/202157 minutes, 12 seconds
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The Story of Sweden's Gang Crime Chaos: From Yugoslav Kingpins to Bombings, Rifles and Roadblocks

Sweden: ABBA, IKEA, third-wave coffee. A wealthy paradise? For some. For others, the Scandinavian state has become a homicide hotspot, with gun crime and grenade attacks on the rise. We tell the tales of its early Mafia kingpins - from bikers to the feared "Yugo Mafia", Arkan, Jokso and a spate of high-octane, helicopter bank heists. But when the Yugoslavs lost their grip on Sweden, they gave way to a new, chaotic and altogether more violent brand of gangsterism, that has enveloped low-income hoods in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö in shocking levels of violence - some of it played out in the music videos of rappers whose producers sit behind bars for murder. How did a rich, stable nation become the home of daylight drive-bys and revenge bombings? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
9/28/20211 hour, 15 seconds
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Taliban Heroin Gang and the Failed War on Afghanistan's Opium

Over the last two decades, the Taliban have moved from simply taxing Afghanistan's opium farmers to controlling every link in the chain of the world's biggest heroin supply. In Afghanistan's Opium Nation, we took you through the history of Afghanistan's opium and heroin industry up until the American invasion in 2001. In this episode, we recap the last 20 years of failed efforts to curtail the country's drug trade, detailing how US allies ramped up their growing and trafficking efforts just as the Taliban were doing the same. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
9/21/20211 hour, 1 minute, 20 seconds
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The Golden Age of Hijacking, Kidnapping and Radical Cold War Terror

Ulrike Meinhof is dead and the remaining founders of the Red Army Faction, aka the Baader Meinhof Gang, are behind bars in Stuttgart. Is this the end for Germany's most notorious hard-left terrorists? Those who pull the levers of power certainly hope so. But 250 miles north in Cologne, a second generation is gearing up for their most audacious kidnapping plot yet. And on a runway in Mallorca, some of the RAF's foreign comrades are about to spark an international incident that has the world hooked - and engages some of the gnarliest SWAT cops around. Featuring bombings, murders, bank robberies, a golden age of hijackings and the gunning down of the guy tasked with reviving East Germany's post-Cold War economy - part two of our Baader Meinhof double-header is a breathless account of the gang's spiraling out of control, and existence to a shockingly late date. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
9/13/202140 minutes, 20 seconds
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Afghanistan's Opium Nation: Drug Lords, Warlords, and Drug Wars

For decades, starting a few years even before the Taliban took power the first time around, Afghanistan has dominated the world’s opium and heroin market, in some years producing up to 90% of the global supply. It’s also provided hundreds of millions of all dollars for all sorts of less than desirable entities. Warlords, Druglords, insurgents, rebels, US allies, US enemies and yes, the Taliban. There’s a couple of wild characters who pretty much have been each one of those things at one point or another in their careers. Then there’s the Pakistani and Iranian and Tajik smuggler networks that help get it across borders, the various criminal syndicates in Turkey, the Balkan, Russian, Kurdish and Central Asian traffickers who help get it across more borders all the way to the street crews in London, Scandinavia and everywhere else. All have fed off of the opium poppy planted in Afghanistan. So have the millions of heroin addicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran...and all over Europe, Central Asia, Africa and Russia. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
9/6/202146 minutes, 48 seconds
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The Baader Meinhof Gang's 'Revolution' of Murders, Bank Robberies, & Blowing Themselves Up

The Baader Meinhof Gang, or Red Army Faction, came about as post-war Germany sought to rebuild from the death and destruction of the Nazi era. As the Cold War gripped the world and self-declared revolutionary groups rose up, the gang's reign of violence across Germany in the 1970's brought international infamy. Bank Robberies, prison breaks, and the Shah of Iran, what else do you need in a story? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
8/31/202144 minutes, 45 seconds
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DM'ing Dominican Narcos, The Shooting of David Ortiz, & Cesar The Abuser

The Dominican Republic has long been a transshipment for cocaine heading to the United States and Europe. In recent years Dominican traffickers have started playing major roles in the supply chain. Corruption has flourished as local 'capos' have grown more powerful. All of this came to head when iconic and world famous baseball player David Ortiz was gunned down in a crowded bar in the summer of 2019. A week after the shooting, Sport Illustrated sent us down there to figure out what happened, opening up a door of cocaine, corruption, and the island's most powerful drug lord, Cesar The Abuser. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
8/24/202147 minutes, 33 seconds
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The Murdered Crime Reporter & the Mocro Mafia, Holland's Underworld Kings

On July 6, legendary Dutch crime reporter Peter de Vries was shot in broad daylight on an Amsterdam street. A week later he was dead - another casualty of the sprawling Marengo Trial that could snare the Netherland’s biggest druglord - and bring the decades-old Mocro Mafia down with him. We get to the heart of the shooting, the history of the hash trade, ports, planes and cocaine - and why even one of Holland’s top cops admits his country is Europe’s ‘narco-state’. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
8/17/202140 minutes, 54 seconds
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Syria's Narco State, Jihadi Supersoldiers and Hezbollah Traffickers: The Story of Captagon

Multiple billion dollar shipments of the drug known as Captagon have been seized in the last few years as the cheap amphetamine floods the Middle East. Alleged to have helped fund the Syrian Civil war, the tiny pills have been showing up in numerous massive shipments confiscated in Mediterranean port cities, often sent by shadowy, high level networks. The pills are all almost exclusively made in Syria, and they're very likely the Assad regime's most valuable export. But what, exactly, is Captagon, who is doing it, and where did it come from? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
8/10/202145 minutes, 14 seconds
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Inside North Korea's Meth Trafficking: The World's Biggest Narco State?

When a bizarre group of international gangsters shook on a massive meth deal with a DEA agent in Bangkok, Thailand eight years ago, it kicked off a manhunt ensnaring Hong Kong Triads, Outlaws bikers and an ex-US Army sniper’s band of contract killers. But the bust also shone a light on the shady drug network of North Korea, part of a crime machine fuelling the world’s maddest dictatorship. This is the story of how a war-torn Hermit Kingdom became a narco-trafficking, cash-counterfeiting, pimping Mafia state. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
8/3/202155 minutes, 53 seconds
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The Cuban Mob: Billion Dollar Rackets, the CIA, Lucchese Mafia Firebomb Wars, Miami Cocaine Trafficking and Fidel Castro

Jose Miguel Battle's Cuban Mafia known as The Corporation ran a billion dollar numbers racket with brutal enforcers for three decades, growing so powerful that they went to war with the Luccheses, firebombing each other's spots all over New York City. This episode has got failed assassination plots, CIA Training, Fidel Castro, Harlem arson wars, cockfighting, billion dollar numbers rackets, ruthless hitmen with dozens of bodies, broad day shootouts in Central Park, Peruvian casinos and Miami cocaine trafficking, what more could you want? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
7/27/20211 hour, 3 minutes, 21 seconds
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The Untold Story of El Chapo's Rise and Fall w/ special guest Noah Hurowitz

(Apologies for sound issues on this one) Before he was Public Enemy Number One—shipping tons of cocaine from Sonoran tunnels into the US—El Chapo was just a poor kid from Sinaloa, trying to make a quick buck like the bandits who'd gone before him. Reporter Noah Hurowitz has been on the trail of the narco kingpin for three years since his bombshell New York trial. He tells us about his new book, travels in Mexico's original Cartel-Land - and how it's not always easy (or safe) to prise fact from fiction when it comes to one of the planet's most notorious criminals. (Part 2 will be up exclusively on the patreon on Wednesday for subscribers at www.patreon.com/theunderworldpodcast). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
7/20/20211 hour, 6 minutes, 31 seconds
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The Icelandic Drug-Smuggling Fellowship's Massive Bitcoin Heist

How did an Icelandic band of international drug smugglers pull off their nation’s most shocking heist, robbing millions in Bitcoin mining machines then disappearing into the frozen wilderness? And how did its mastermind (some say: pawn) escape from jail, hop across Europe only to be hobbled by the exact network he’d relied on as a free man? Iceland’s ‘Big Bitcoin Heist’ is a tale of boom and bust, opportunity and clownish failure. Above all it’s a great story. Does anyone know the correct pronunciation of the word "Geyser"?!?!? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
7/12/202143 minutes, 7 seconds
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Cartel Land: How Acapulco went from Sinatra Singing to Sicarios Shooting

Acapulco has become one of Mexico's, and the world's, bloodiest cities. It saw a stunning 127 murders per 100,000 people in 2019, making it the most murderous city in the world. It's a long way from it's previous reputation as the premier vacation destination for the rich and famous with everyone from JFK to Frank Sinatra to Liz Taylor singing it's praises. So how did a tropical paradise go from spring break hotspot to shootouts and severed heads? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
7/6/202147 minutes, 19 seconds
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The Snakehead Sister Ping: China's Most Infamous Smuggler

She was the greatest smuggler, a Chinatown hero. Or was she a menace? Sister Ping made millions from those fleeing eastern China to the US. But ‘The Snakehead’s legacy is wound up in legend, conspiracy and lies. Here’s the truth. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
6/29/202154 minutes, 20 seconds
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The Pink Panthers: The Secretive Organization of the World's Top Jewel Thieves

Emerging out of the breakup of Yugoslavia, the Balkans-based international thieves known as the Pink Panthers have coordinated many of the world's most lucrative heists, sometimes stealing tens of millions of dollars worth of diamonds and jewels in less than 3 minutes. Said to be disciplined, cultured and meticulously organized, they've struck in dozens of countries, often times targeting prestigious jewelry shops in daring smash-and-grabs, including an infamous Dubai robbery that involved driving an Audi through a mall. But, what, exactly, do we know about them? And who are the men that make up this secretive organization? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
6/23/202158 minutes, 21 seconds
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The Russian Mafia's NHL Extortion Play

When the Soviet Union collapsed in the late 80's and early 90's, both gangsters and hockey players headed to America (and Canada!) for new opportunities, making use of the skills they had developed back home. It didn't take long before both groups were on a collision course. As a bunch of 20-something Russian and Ukrainian players started earning more money than they had ever dreamed of, some of their equally ambition countrymen wanted to make sure they got a taste as well. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
6/16/202146 minutes, 16 seconds
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Turkey's Mafia Boss Youtube Sensation Trying to Bring Down the State

Sedat Peker has long been a top mafia boss in Turkey, but in recent weeks he's found a new calling: Youtuber. He's taken to youtube and social media to air out accusations of corruption and conspiracies that go all the way to the top of Turkish politics, including the current president. After a gentlemen's agreement with the government went south and many of his soldiers got arrested, he fled to Dubai where's he been releasing youtube videos that have been watched by tens of millions of people in Turkey, revealing political murders, corruption, and drug trafficking charges against top government officials. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
6/9/202152 minutes, 14 seconds
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The Billion Dollar Dealer Who Linked Hell's Angels, Mafia Families, Cartels, and Native American Smugglers

Jimmy Cournoyer brought a billion dollars of weed into New York City and the east coast through an organization that brought together the Rizzuto and Bonnano Italian Mafia families, Native American Smugglers, Hell's Angels, and the Sinaloa Cartel into one massive money-laundering, weed-smuggling, cocaine-distributing organization. And he did it all before he was 30 years old while dating a lingerie model, being besties with top MMA star George St. Pierre, and partying with Leonardo Dicaprio. With a lovely tangential story about the time Danny made a documentary about the owner of a butcher shop who ended up being Mikey "The Butcher" Virtuouso, Bonnano crime family soldier and maker of the best sandwiches in New York City. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
6/2/202141 minutes, 50 seconds
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Curtis Warren, the English Gangster Who Tried to Take Over an Island:

Curtis Warren wasn't known as "Cocky" for nothing. Perhaps it was his rapid rise to the top of Britain's drug trade, becoming Cali's man in Europe and Interpol's "Target One". Perhaps it was a fortune so big it made him the only narco on the UK's rich list. Or perhaps it was the time when, just weeks after emerging from a Dutch prison, he tried to take over an island. Bulgarian wines, county lines and way way more in this episode. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
4/13/202147 minutes, 19 seconds
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Brazil's Red Command Rules the Favelas

In the late 1970's when a military dictatorship ruled Brazil, revolutionaries and hardcore criminals formed a collective in a brutal maximum security island prison, giving birth to Brazil's first super gang, the Red Command. Though their political ideals soon melted away, leaving only a ruthless, well-armed network of drug dealers, they would eventually have enough power to take on the state and take over most of Rio. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/24/202150 minutes, 6 seconds
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Black Caesar: The Biggest International Black Druglord You've Never Heard Of

Frank Matthews went from a poor boy in North Carolina stealing chickens to running one of the biggest heroin rings America has ever seen before disappearing without a trace after getting arrested with a rumored 20 million dollars he had stashed away, never to be seen again. Along the way he took on the Italian mafia and the Black Mafia, importing kilos of heroin from Venezuela with the help of the French Connection and setting up shop in Brooklyn. He still hasn't been caught. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/17/202145 minutes, 16 seconds
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Rasta City vs The Muslims: Trinidad's Gang Wars and Abu Bakr's Attempted Coup

In 1990, the tiny Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago saw the only attempted Islamic militant overthrow of a government in the Western Hemisphere. The coup led by Abu Bakr and his Jamaat Al Muslimeem followers failed, but many on the island see it as a turning point that has led the murder rate to increase by 400% over the last few decades. Now, a raging war between the Rasta City gang and the Muslims gang doesn't show sings of stopping as they battle over lucrative government contracts and the street drug trade. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/11/202153 minutes, 19 seconds
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How Albania's Mafias Took Over Europe (and more)

The "Mafia Shqiptare" was forged during communism, exploded into life during a nationwide pyramid scheme, and unleashed a wave of drugs and violence across Europe from the late 90s. We dive into its most notorious bosses - and how gangs including the 'Hellbanianz' have taken over the UK's lucrative drug scene. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
3/3/202154 minutes, 26 seconds
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Sicily's Brutal Wars and Mafia Super Trial

The "Maxi Trial" pitted two fearless Palermo prosecutors and turncoat "Pentiti" against the Cosa Nostra, its thuggish leader Toto Riina, and a whole host of corrupt cops, politicians and businessmen. But when the judge handed down 344 guilty verdicts, the real chaos was just beginning. We dive into an era of Italian Mafia history-car bombs, daily hits, heroin billions-that looked more like war than organized crime. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
2/3/202143 minutes, 54 seconds
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Bitcoin Blood Gangs and The Greatest Scammer of All Time

Early one morning this past June, 6 fully kitted out SWAT teams in Dubai fanned out across multiple luxury buildings. They were targeting a vast criminal conspiracy that had scammed hundreds of millions of dollars through pretty simply cyber trickery. From Brooklyn Blood sets using cryptocurrency to facilitate their credit card scams to the Nigerian fraud king Hushpuppi getting busted with 40 million dollars in cash, we have some fun talking scammers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/26/202143 minutes, 27 seconds
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The Car Bomb Wars of the Israeli Mafias

Car bombs, shoulder-fired missiles, grenades and hits across 5 continents; the Israeli mafias that rose up in the 90's and fought each other for control of gambling and drug rackets for the following decades are among the most sophisticated in the world. At one point, they controlled 80% of the world's global ecstasy trade and partnered with street gangs in Los Angeles to distribute. The Alperons, Abergils, Rosensteins, and Abutbuls had no problem going after judges, politicians and cops. And when they weren't busy killing each other over bottle recycling rackets in Israel, they established global networks of drugs and gambling across Europe, Asia, and America. Danny is joined by Israeli crime reporter Ben Hartman in this episode. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/19/20211 hour, 23 minutes, 55 seconds
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The Drug Lords and Killer Cops of the Philippines

Over the last few years, Sean's been on the ground covering the Philippines' brutal drug war amongst the dealers, addicts, and killer cops. Rodrigo Duterte, the architect of the Philippines' blood-soaked drug war, has shot men dead with uzis and fed them to crocodiles. How did he become the country's top man? We take a ride on Manila's gruesome 'Night Shift,' and tell the tale of a showdown between a killer cop and infamous gang down south, to find out. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/12/202148 minutes, 57 seconds
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Murder City USA: St Louis's Record Breaking Murder Rate

( note: we weren't able to record in the studio so audio is off a bit) The murder capital of the United States isn't Chicago, Baltimore or Detroit - it's St. Louis, Missouri, which for each of the last **SEVEN** years in a row had has the highest murder rate in the United States. The city just finished 2020 with a record breaking murder rate of 87 per 100,000 people, making it the deadliest city in the world not in Mexico or Brazil. A city of only 300,000 people, it had twice as many murders as London, population 9 million. This is the story of how St Louis became the murder capital of America; guns, gangs, drugs, poor policing, population loss, disappearing industry, concentrated poverty, and a history of systemically racist policies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
1/4/202159 minutes, 22 seconds
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Melbourne's Gangland Killings: The Smiling Assassin Carl Williams w/ guest Sami Shah

Danny is out this week, and Sean is joined by comedian Sami Shah. He came from nowhere to become the murderous king of Melbourne's 'underbelly.' But how did Carl Williams, a "shelf stacker - and not a good one," lead the Australian city's long established Calabrian and Irish mafias into its biggest-ever war? And how did cops, and an informant named 'Lawyer X,' stoke the flames? Sean is joined by writer and comedian Sami Shah to explore the Melbourne Gangland Killings. Patreon.com/TheUnderworldPodcast Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
12/22/20201 hour, 4 minutes, 8 seconds
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The Albanian Bronx Crew that took on the Italian Mafia

In the 1990's, a new group of criminals started making their presence known on the streets of New York City: the Albanian mafia. Soon, they earned a reputation that even scared the Italian mafias that had dominated the city for decades. Muscling in on Gambino and Lucchese rackets, they pulled guns on made men and people began referring to the Rudaj Organization, better known as The Corporation, as the 6th family. This is the story of how Albanian organized crime groups came to New York. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
12/14/202054 minutes, 26 seconds
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On the Hunt for Burma's Billion Dollar Meth Labs

The biggest drug cartel in the world isn't Mexican, or Colombian. It's Asian. Buried deep in the Burmese jungle are networks of cutting edge meth labs, guarded by rebels and run by kingpins so powerful they make El Chapo look like a corner boy. In 2019, Underworld cohost Sean Williams went looking for one of the billion dollar meth labs spending months on the Mekong, in lawless casinos and hunting a drug industry bigger than any other on earth. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
12/7/202045 minutes, 18 seconds
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MS-13 Behind the Scenes in El Salvador

In recent years MS-13 has become one of the most feared street gangs in the world, thanks to face tattoos and machetes. Underworld host and producer Danny Gold first went to El Salvador to report on the gang and their rivals 18th Street in 2015 and has since returned numerous times. In this episode he breaks down the origins of the gang and what it's like to go behind the scenes with them (and 18th street). Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/30/202055 minutes, 35 seconds
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The Yakuza Part 2: The Rise and Fall of Japan's Feared Mafia

In part two of our Yakuza deep dive, we plot their post-war rise from hustlers to corporate raiders - and a smack back down to earth. There are wars, kamikaze assassinations, CIA stings and the growth of the Yamaguchi-gumi, a mob so powerful it has its logo on the door. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/17/202038 minutes, 5 seconds
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The Yakuza Part 1: The Rise and Fall of Japan's Feared Mafia

Is there an organized crime group more iconic than Japan's Yakuza? In part one of two episodes on the group-or web of groups-we plunge into their ancient history, traditions, and how the Second World War made gangs of thieves into multi-billionaire magnates. Oh, and we'll unpack those tattoos. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
11/9/202032 minutes, 42 seconds
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Part 2 - The Russian Mafia Comes to Brooklyn

In part 2 of our episode on the Russian Mafia coming to Brooklyn, we are joined by journalist Michael Weiss to continue our story of how mostly Jewish refugees from the former Soviet Union set up shop in Brighton Beach and formed the 'Russian Mafia'. We talk about the war for Brighton Beach between Boris Nayfeld and Monya Elson, the arrival of the infamous and feared vor y zakone (allegedly!) Yaponchik, and how Russian gangsters in Brighton Beach bilk the US government out of billions of dollars through healthcare scams. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
10/26/202050 minutes, 27 seconds
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Part 1 - The Russian Mafia Comes to Brooklyn

The Russian Mafia has been an object of fascination for decades in America, but it only really emerged in the 1980's after mostly Jewish immigrants were allowed to leave the Soviet Union and settled in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Brighton Beach. And while they may have started off as small-time hoods extorting bakeries and defrauding jewelry stores, in no time they were dropping bodies all over Brooklyn and scamming their way to hundreds of millions of dollars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
10/19/202043 minutes, 51 seconds
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The Merchant of Death: Arms Dealer Viktor Bout

They called him "The Merchant of Death" - the world's most dangerous man. But was gun-runner Viktor Bout actually the arms trade's fall guy? From Angola to Zaire and everywhere in between, Bout's black-market weapons have fueled the globe's most grisly gangs and conflicts. But despite Nic Cage's excellent performance in Lord of War, there's far more to the real Viktor Bout than his Hollywood image suggests. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
10/13/202047 minutes, 26 seconds
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BONUS PATREON MADE FREE: Nigeria's Cults and Revolution with Omoyele Sowore

Building off our Nigerian Cults episode: Omoyele Sowore was attacked by the cults as a student leader, saw them morph into political power, and tried to take them down. Now the New Jersey resident - a journalist, activist and 2019 presidential candidate - is under house arrest in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. With gangsters in the government and the rule of law trampled, will Sowore's revolution take hold? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
10/8/202043 minutes, 59 seconds
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The White Boston Townie Who Became A Chinese Triad Boss

Chinatowns in the United States have never been short on organized crime syndicates, from the early days of secret society tongs to the Triads. In Boston, it was the Sky Dragon who ruled over the gambling, prostitution and drug markets. Somewhere along the way, though, a white kid from south Boston straight out of a Ben Afleck movie would find his way to the top of Boston's Triads. This is the story of White Devil John, with special guest The Wonton Don AKA Donnie Does. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
10/6/20201 hour, 3 minutes, 57 seconds
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Black Axe and The International Cult Confraternities of Nigeria

They began as freedom-fighting pirates, swashbuckling for African rights. But over the decades Nigeria's confraternities descended into vicious cults. Among them one group has spread across the entire world, and Law Enforcement is only now just learning how dangerous the Black Axe really is. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
9/29/202043 minutes, 22 seconds
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FREE BONUS PATREON EPISODE: COLOMBIAN CARTELS WITH TOBY MUSE

Decided to make this free, it's the first of our many bonus episodes up on the patreon, where we'll focus on interviewing experts, journalists, and well-connected individuals. Toby Muse is a journalist who has covered the drug war in Colombia for more than 15 years. We talk about the time he tried to get me killed in Medellin, the acceptance of gay men in the hyper masculine world of cartel members, and the one cartel boss who makes Pablo Escobar look weak. Subscribe on patreon.com/TheUnderworldPodcast for more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
9/24/202058 minutes
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The Brutal Human Trafficking Syndicates of Southeast Asia

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been made by a vicious network of organized crime figures throughout Southeast Asia by preying on what the United Nations has called "the most persecuted people in the world," the stateless and desperate Rohingya people. From the high rises of Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, we follow the transnational network that operates like a modern day slave trade, roping in politicians, police officials and high ranking members of militaries along the way. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
9/22/202056 minutes, 37 seconds
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Dawood Ibrahim, India’s D Company, and the Mumbai Attacks

Few names strike fear into the hearts of Indians quite like Dawood Ibrahim. From a Mumbai slum he built his 'D Company' into the country's biggest mafia. Then he did something truly shocking. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
9/15/202051 minutes, 40 seconds
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Ireland's Deadly Gang War: The Hutch Kinahan Feud

Tyson Fury, large amounts of cocaine, public executions at press conferences, and Estonian hitmen - Ireland's war between the Hutchs and the Kinahans, one of the biggest drug trafficking cartels in Europe, has it all. From the bloody streets of Dublin to exclusive gated communities on the Spanish Coast, this gangland feud between two of Ireland's most powerful crime family patriarchs has seen dozens killed over the last 5 years, but could it be nearing the end? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
9/8/20201 hour, 4 minutes, 20 seconds
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The Dangerous Crime Clans of Berlin

Berlin is Europe's party capital. But since the 1980's, another kind of club has taken over the city - and not always quietly. Lebanese-Kurdish "problematic families" have taken hold, and one Tony Soprano-like leader stands above the rest. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
9/1/202045 minutes, 59 seconds
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Arkan's Tigers and the new Serbian Mafia

Arkan started off a bankrobber and a hitman before becoming the leader of a vicious paramilitary group that committed war crimes. He grew rich off the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the wars that followed, becoming a new iteration of warlord mafioso. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
9/1/202046 minutes, 50 seconds
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Trailer

Welcome to the Underworld Podcast, a weekly series where journalists Danny Gold and Sean Williams take you into the secret world of transnational organized crime with all the associated warlords, mobsters and scammers from Brooklyn to Beijing. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
8/25/20204 minutes, 12 seconds