Fittingly for a game series centered on crime, numerous gangs, mafias, and cartels are encountered and fought in the PAYDAY series. They are usually fought for the Payday Gang's contacts' interests or for their own monetary gain. In PAYDAY 2 (starting with Update #37), due to their nature of being criminals, in most cases the law enforcement will engage present gangs in combat as well as the heisters.
The Cobras appear in Rats Day 2, giving the Payday Gang information from a traitor Mendoza in exchange for meth. The gangsters canonically engage in a shootout with the crew, either by the heisters' decision, the gang's decision should the crew not bring enough meth, or the cops ambushing both parties. They may also appear in Big Oil Day 1, making a coke/weapons deal with the OVERKILL MC.
The only known criminal activities the Cobras engage in are narcotic trading and weapon smuggling, though it is possible they also engage in money laundering.
Vlad displays extreme hatred for the mafia, due to the head of the mafia being responsible for putting Vlad in jail.
Dimitri can be found at the Tasteful Club as a civilian, and like other civilians, can either be taken hostage or killed. It is not known whether his death is canon, and killing him in-game will not prompt any lines from Vlad, neither will it incur any penalties beyond cleaner costs and potentially losing a hostage. It is worth mentioning however, Dimitri is not mentioned again after the Nightclub heist, though numerous civilians that share his model can be seen in various heists.
It is likely they run the jewelry store in Ukrainian Job, as in said store the tiara for Dimitri's fiancee is held for their upcoming wedding, and he is said to trust "only Russians". The mafia possibly also runs at least one of the stores hit in Four Stores.
Known criminal activities committed by the mafia include narcotic smuggling and hosting illegal gambling, and possibly also weapon smuggling and money laundering, the former given by their choice of weaponry.
Dimitri's mobsters are shown to exclusively use the Mark 10 SMG.
The Mendoza CartelEdit
The Mendoza cartel is a presumably Colombian cartel in PAYDAY 2, and are enemies of the Cobras and the Sinaloans, especially the Sinaloans.
The Mendoza cartel, according to the FBI Files (specifically that of the Firestarter job), have been warring with the Sinaloans for years. All three of Hector's (the head of the Sinaloan cartel) contracts focus on sabotaging the cartel and its operations. By the end of the Rats job, Hector's efforts have been successful and all Mendoza presence has been eliminated from Washington D.C.
The FBI offered several high-ranking Mendoza members safe escort out of the country, and in exchange, the Mendozas would give the FBI information on the Sinaloans. These Mendozas were assassinated before they could reach safe haven, in part to a traitor Mendoza giving up information to the Cobras.
Hector, upon completion of the Rats job, may state that the remaining Mendoza members have sworn death upon the Payday Gang.
Known criminal activities the Mendoza cartel engaged in were narcotic smuggling, weapon smuggling, and narcotic production. The bank the Payday Gang hits in Firestarter held what Hector claimed to be marked Mendoza money which the crew had to burn, but as the heist was meant to setup the gang and produce evidence against them, it's likely said money was either not illegal whatsoever or not property of the Mendozas.
Unlike the other gangs seen so far, women are known members of the OVERKILL MC, one fought is in fact a high-ranking member. The Elephant states that he was also a member of the biker gang after the completion of The Biker Heist.
The OVERKILL MC seems to have a way of repeatedly getting their hands on classified information and high-tech equipment, as in Big Oil Day 1, one of their clubhouses is heisted to get information on cold fusion engines and in The Biker Heist Day 2 the objective of the mission is a BCI headset that allows remote control of drones solely with the wearer's brain. They may be obtaining these by accident, as indicated by the CR 805B's announcement site description.
Known criminal activities the OVERKILL MC commits are narcotic smuggling, weapon smuggling, and theft.
OVERKILL MC Bikers are seen using the Chimano 88 pistol and Reinfeld 880 shotgun, and at least one of their high-ranking members use the KSP LMG. They are also said to use the CR 805B SMG and the Breaker 12G shotgun, the former from its announcement site description and the latter from its DLC page description, and it is likely they also use the AK rifle, given the large amounts of them that can be found and secured in both heists they appear in. The insider info asset on Big Oil Day 1 also shows that they smuggle AMCAR rifles, but the rifle has yet to appear in weapon cases in-game, and no enemies whatsoever have yet to be seen using the AMCAR either.
The Sinaloan CartelEdit
The Sinaloan cartel, also known as the Morales cartel, is a Colombian cartel headed by Hector Morales, and are enemies with the Cobras and the Mendozas, especially the Mendozas.
The Sinaloan cartel is presumed to be disbanded with Hector's assassination in Hoxton Revenge. It is noted in the FBI Files that due to Bonnie's assistance in the death of Hector via providing information on him, the remaining cartel members may hunt her down, ironically even though it's implied she got the information from one of Hector's relatives while in jail.
Members of the Sinaloan cartel appear in two heists:
- In Watchdogs, where in a truck manned by one of Hector's henchmen bring the cocaine bags to the docks for extraction. The truck driver's corpse can be seen outside the truck on Day 2, and is ironically identical in appearance to Mendoza cartel members. A Sinaloan member also drives the boat that picks up the coke bags.
- In Rats Day 1, where the Payday Gang is sent to save Hector's meth operation from the Mendozas. Civilians referred to as "Hector's cooks" are killed by the Mendozas near the meth lab.
The Russian MafiaEdit
The mafia is targeted in the heist as Grigori has relations with the District Attorney, and his assassination allowed The Dentist to pressure the DA to lower security around Hoxton, allowing the Hoxton Breakout heist to be committed. The fate of the mafia after the heist is unknown, though many mobsters are killed by the crew in the Hotline Miami heist and any survivors have likely disbanded. The Dentist's comments regarding the Commissar suggest a deeper conflict between him and Grigori's mafia.
The mafia has its ways of getting their hands on military-grade equipment, as crates with missiles inside can be found in Hotline Miami Day 1, and among the mafia's property is a "gunship"; a helicopter outfitted with rocket pods.
While the Payday Gang drills open Grigori's panic room in Hotline Miami Day 2, he may claim that he has policemen with loyalty to him. As the law enforcers on the scene will fight, and potentially kill, the Commissar once the panic room is opened, this is probably just a bluff meant to discourage the crew.
Crimes committed by the mafia include money laundering, weapon smuggling, the smuggling and production of narcotics, and prostitution.
Russian mobsters used the Bronco .44 revolver, Mark 10 SMG, Reinfeld 880 shotgun, and AK.762 rifle, and the Commissar wielded the KSP LMG when fought. The usage of the AK rifle is implied, as weapon cases containing them can be found on Hotline Miami Day 1 on the Very Hard difficulty and above. In the Hotline Miami games, Russian mobsters also use M1911 and Desert Eagle pistols, MP5, Uzi, and HM-3 SMGs, double-barrel shotguns, and AMCAR/AMR-16-like rifles.
The Honduran CartelEdit
A few of these members are fought nearby the wreck which heisters begin on Day 1. On Day 2, the cartel tracked down the location of the barn and unleashed an ambush. These members are either killed by the gang or by the arrival of the police force.
The Hondurans smuggle cocaine via stuffing it in goats and transporting them to buyers. It's possible they also smuggle weaponry, given they exclusively use the Mark 10 when fought.
There are more known gangs and mafias in the PAYDAY universe, but due to either not having a name, not appearing in-game, having little to no background, or a combination of several of the three, are listed here.
- Dallas was a former member of a Chicago mafia. At the age of 30 he tried to turn his mafia and another mafia against each other, resulting in many deaths and Dallas getting a large bounty on his head.
- An unnamed gang appears in PAYDAY: The Heist's Panic Room heist, run by a man known as Chavez. They own the eponymous panic room that is the objective of the heist. The gang's known criminal activities include the fencing and production of narcotics, weapon smuggling, and possibly money laundering. All gangsters encountered in the heist, except for Chavez, who does not attack the crew at all, use the Mark 11 SMG.
- The Panic Room gang reappears in the PAYDAY 2 Panic Room remake, once again headed by Chavez, but unlike in the original, he will combat the heisters. Most of the gangsters' models are reused from the Cobras, Mendozas, and Dimitri and Vlad's mobsters. Most of the mobsters use Mark 10 SMGs, with the exception of Chavez and the gangster the crew makes the deal with, who use Chimano 88 pistols.
- Two gangsters identical in appearance to those encountered in Panic Room, armed with Mark 11 SMGs as well, appear in the Undercover heist, making a deal with the Taxman. As the deal was meant to setup the Taxman, the gangsters in question are most likely not actual gangsters and are rather undercover agents.
- The description of the Dillinger Death Mask indicates the Dillinger Gang existed in the PAYDAY universe.
- The description of the Butcher mask indicates the "Pink Panthers" international jewel thief network exists or existed in the PAYDAY universe.
- On the Big Bank announcement site, the description of the heist states that many groups of criminals similar to the Payday Gang have attempted to heist the Benevolent Bank, and they all failed. It names two in particular; the 1940 Nestor gang and the 1977 Beltway Bunch. The FBI Files notes the dying words of the leader of the Beltway Bunch, a James "Napalm" Westmore, were "Tell The Dentist to go back to hell."
- John Wick was formerly acquainted with a Russian mafia, but set out to murder every last member of it after the son of the mafia's boss murdered his deceased wife's dog.
- While offering the Golden Grin Casino heist, The Dentist may note that the casino was "built on mobster money". Whether the mafia that founded the casino is still active and/or operates the casino is unknown.
- Jacket is known for "allegedly" wiping out the entire Russian Mafia in Miami.
- Jiro was a former member of a Japanese yakuza. He was kicked out after breaking the rule of not marrying the boss's daughter, and the son she bore was sent to America. Jiro killed a large number of his former brothers, possibly the entire clan, in search of answers for where to find his son.
- Solomon Garrett, as the head of the Boston PD, eradicated Boston of its Irish and Italian mafias with the help of Neville Winters.
- The explanation of the weapon skin safes mechanic is that Vlad made a deal with a Seattle syndicate to sell their weapon safes to the east cost.
- The FBI Files note the Midas Touch legendary skin was given to a gamer named Adam Goodwin from a rodeo front for a gang, who went on to commit crimes with them, and the Vlad's Rodina legendary skin found its way to Vlad's hands while he was in a Russian mob.
- Vlad appears to have a mob of his own, as in the Aftershock heist, the weapon safe-carrying-trucks' drivers, referred to as "Vlad's guys", are friendly to the heisters sent to retrieve the safes, armed with Mark 10 SMGs, and will engage law enforcers in combat.
- According to the Update #90 announcement site, the Dragon Lord flamethrower belonged to the leader of a large drug-smuggling ring in Taipei named "The Dragon Lords", known as "General Tang". In 1976, Taipei's rival gangs united against The Dragon Lords, and after several weeks of mass-murder, Tang called for a truce and invited the other crime lords to a surrender negotiation at the Taipei docks, where he incinerated them all and himself with the flamethrower.
- Bodhi is said to have lead a gang named the Ex-Presidents.
- A gang identical in appearance to the OVERKILL MC is fought in the Santa's Workshop heist, seen forcing what appear to be other members to pack Christmas presents with narcotics. It is unknown if they were enemies of Vlad and/or if the gangsters killed there were the entirety of the gang. They wielded Chimano 88 pistols and Reinfeld 880 shotguns.
- Two gangsters identical in appearance to the Cobras, armed with Mark 10 SMGs as well, appear in the PAYDAY 2 remake of the Undercover heist, performing the same role as the gangsters in the first game and are likely undercover agents instead of actual gangsters.
- In the context of the movie the Hardcore Henry Heists are based on, the Russian mercenaries fought in the Boiling Point heist are employed by Akan, meaning their objective is to take the information on the project that which the heist is focused on. If they truly are employed by Akan, their behavior in-game is unusual.
- Sydney's FBI File states she was in an Australian gang named "the Dingos". The announcement site description for her Wing balisong states she got the knife from the throat of a gang leader, unknown whether that of the gang she was in or a rival gang.
- A generic mob appears in day 1 of the Get the Coke tutorial heist, targeted because they took cocaine from an acquaintance of Bain's. They use the same models as the gangsters in Nightclub and Aftershock, and are armed with Mark 10 SMGs.
- The FBI File for The Biker Heist's second day mention a gang named the "Freight Train Riders of America", a gang of homeless people that travel via hopping into railroad cars. It does not mention if they engage in any illegal activities beyond freighthopping.
- A generic mafia is depicted as having visited the Safe House on Day 3 of Hoxton's Housewarming Party. One of them dislikes the served pasta and states that his mother would kill the cook.
- The descriptions of the Paycheck Chains and Paycheck Dallas masks indicate there is a Payday Gang-inspired gang named the "Paycheck Gang". Both masks' descriptions indicate that its members have little experience and gain little money from their robberies, and the description of the former implies that they all have been afflicted with rabies.
- Unusually, on stealth heists that feature the aforementioned gangs, they will attempt to alert the police authorities if they detect suspicious activity despite them being committed to illegal activities of their own. In fact, when the police operators arrive on-site, they will promptly shoot gang members in spite of the fact they were calling for help.
- This is most notable since the Hotline Miami update, where prior to Update #37 the police would side with the Mendozas to attempt capturing the Payday Gang. The same can likely be said of the Big Oil heist.