The Federation is no utopia, make no mistake, and while nobody goes hungry there’s still more than enough black market activity and social stratification to sustain multiple categories of organized crime syndicate.Their specific activities vary from world to world, depending on what vices the local government has banned. For instance, Secland has a habit of banning some product from nearly every newly colonized planet or recontacted Outworld for fifty years before the legislature experiences enough churn to reverse the ban. Swarzvelt doesn’t like weapons in the hands of commoners. EDI restricts most narcotics that could make their workers sloppy.The source of their membership also varies based on their culture.
Shadow Houses: Legitimate Centauran Houses are frequently engaged in a fair bit of shady activity already, but Shadow Houses don’t even have the veneer of a charter. Most have been formed by klientoj who were forced into contracts that left them no room to escape or improve their situations, they banded together to look out for each other and get some extra resources on the side. A few Shadow Houses claim to go all the way back to the post-plague annexation and the first ex-SPPS klientoj, but those claims seem dubious at best.
Cetan Tetrads: Shortly after the species caste system was established on Swarzwelt the “worker” species figured out the warriors didn’t much care about them and they had to look out for themselves. Hence, the quadrads, named for the four states of matter and the four castes. Quadrad members are stereotypically lapines, rodents, or vulpines, but a surprising number of clans consist or ungulates.
Zeroes: In the Eridani Directorate, ownership of shares in the corporation is the key to (legal) power, for those without shares, the law is less kind. “Zero gangs” live under the radar of the security forces, keeping their activities hidden from the security officers they haven’t paid off. Media tends to portray them as reckless teenagers breaking shit for fun, some younger gangs might be like that but they tend to dissolve or get absorbed by an older established gang quickly. The “Cyberpunk” subculture on Secland and other worlds is thought to be based on anti-Zero propaganda, but the genuine Eridani gangs tend to look down on Cyberpunks as “posers.”
Pirates: There are two types of pirates, privateers and idiots who’re likely to be dead soon if they don’t get out. Because there’s no stealth in space it’s extremely difficult to sneak up on another ship and any battle is going to be noticed by the system government. Sometimes in-system commerce in fringe systems can be raided and the pirates get away with it, but interstellar data traders are liable to delete or transmit their cargo if they can’t catch the pirates in their exhaust plume. About the only way to make a profit off piracy is to “take commissions”. Privateers might legally be hired to hunt down known pirates on the fringe, and it’s rumored the Federal Guard has authorized some to disrupt the space programs of advanced Outworlds, but they’re most notorious for intercepting data traders competing with their clients in deep space. There tends to be a degree of crossover between private security contractors and privateering, it’s not unheard of for a mercenary ship to approach an isolated asteroid and offer their long-term policing services while pointing their mass driver towards the main hab.