A cartel is a group of participants in an industry who have come together to either reduce or prevent competition among themselves by a variety of means, including price fixing, bid rigging, customer allocation and regulating the output of the industry. The objective of the cartel is to increase the profit of the cartel participants. In the United States, cartels are usually considered illegal under antitrust laws.

In criminal law, cartel refers to a drug cartel. A drug cartel is a criminal organization that controls the promotion and distribution of narcotic drugs. Some drug cartels are known to finance terrorist organizations. In the past, Columbian drug cartels garnered the majority of media attention. There were three rival drug cartels responsible for the narco-trafficking in Colombia. The three cartels are Cali Cartel, Medellin Cartel, and the Norte del Valle Cartel.

Drug cartels have dominated the drug trafficking trade to the United States and have become increasingly violent. The current major Mexican drug cartels are the Juárez Cartel, Tijuana Cartel, Los Zetas Cartel, Beltrán-Leyva Cartel, Gulf Cartel, Sinaloa Cartel, and La Familia Cartel.

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