Episode 1 China – On January 2,2000, a freighter from Hong Kong docked in Seattle. When INS officials opened one of the cargo containers, they found 12 disoriented Chinese stowaways, who had paid exorbitant fees to Snake Heads, smuggling agents from a vast criminal syndicate that spans cultures, countries, and history. Featuring gang leaders from 1920s Shanghai to 1970s New York Chinatown, this episode investigates the history of the Chinese underworld from its mythical origins in a Long ago Shaolin monastery.
Epsode 2 Sicily – Although the Mafia had its beginnings in Sicily, it eventually spread its tentacles all over the world. Organized crime originally owed its success to providing services that appeal to human weakness. Gambling, illegal drugs and alcohol, and trafficking in humans were among its pursuits. To enforce its hold over prized territory, the mob resorted to extortion and violence. Law enforcement has responded with harsh measures, but organized crime, now engaged in a number of respectable activities, still thrives. This episode returns to the roots of organized crime in Sicily, with an informative chronicle of the country’s so called Five Families. Archival film footage, photographs, journals, personal accounts, and commentary by historians tell the story.
Episode 3 Russia – The Russian Mob or Mafia, Russkaya Mafiya, Red Mafia, Krasnaya Mafiya, Redfellas or Bratva (brotherhood), is a name given to a broad group of organized criminals of various ethnicity which appeared in the former Soviet Union territories after its disintegration in 1991. Apart from ethnic Russians, the term comprises disproportionately large numbers of Jews, Chechens and Georgians. Most russians celebrated the end of communism and the end of it’s planned economy, but the shift to free enterprise had an unintended side effect. Vast new opportunities for the Russian Mafia. The Russians may be new kids in the game but they are just as skilled as their sicilian cousins and have a history that goes back to Imperial Russia and The Thieves World.
Episode 4 Colombia – Is the war on drugs in Colombia winnable? One of South America’s most beautiful countries, it’s also one of the most dangerous. Since the 1970s, Colombian drug cartels have shipped thousands of tons of cocaine to the US. This episode investigates two of the most successful – the Medellin and Cali Cartels and the smaller organizations that arose in their demise, whose cocaine and heroin crops and trafficking airstrips are protected by leftist guerrilla groups for a share of the profit.
Episode 5 India – This episode on the Mafia in India is part of a five volume series that chronicles the history of organized crime, using archival film footage, photographs, journals, personal accounts, and commentary by historians. The subversion of the country’s spiritual beliefs led to the rise of a special brand of mob activity in India.