|“||If you know that [Shaw's rank in the cartel], then you know we're eight thousand strong.||”|
Absolutely nothing is known about the cartel, other than it was most likely founded outside of the Millburn Correctional Facility and had members who are imprisoned there. As a result, the cartel started secretly shipping drugs into the prison at some point. One of its members operating inside the prison was Calvin Shaw, a former FBI agent convicted of murdering a confidential informant. According to Luke Alvez, Shaw was one of the cartel's most trusted members, and was thus well-rewarded for his ability to accomplish his tasks. The cartel was also alleged by Shaw to have at least 8,000 members in total.
On Criminal Minds
The cartel's existence was only revealed near the end of Season Twelve, but it was hinted at a number of times during Spencer Reid's imprisonment at Millburn for murdering an American woman in Mexico. It was first introduced in "Alpha Male" through its member Shaw, who saves Reid from an inmate named Milos and his gang. Shaw then becomes a confidante for Reid, and he takes an interest in him. Two other members, Frazier and Duerson, are introduced in the next episode, "Assistance Is Futile", and become antagonistic towards Reid and a newfound friend of his, an uninvolved inmate named Luis Delgado.
In "In the Dark", the cartel was first alluded to when Frazier and Duerson confront Reid and Luis, and order the former to make sure their shipment (later revealed to be drugs) gets to them safely. They then kill Luis as a warning. In "Hell's Kitchen", the shipment is intercepted by prison guards, who were acting on a tip, and this triggers a lockdown in Millburn. Officer Lionel Wilkins later unknowingly brings Reid a second shipment of drugs, hidden inside laundry. As Reid inspects it, he takes the opportunity to spike the drugs with poison, hoping it would kill Frazier and Duerson. However, much to his horror, the two force an inmate named Malcolm to try the drugs, then distribute them to Shaw and four other inmates, leading to a string of poisonings.
By the time of "Green Light", Shaw and the other inmates have recovered from the poisoning. Shaw, having realized who spiked the drugs, attempts to lead about Reid's death as retaliation, informing the general prison population about Reid's own status as a federal agent. This causes Reid to be ostracized. As a result, Reid ensures he is locked up in solitary confinement by manipulating Shaw into stabbing him in the leg with a shiv. However, Shaw has someone send him a letter implicitly threatening him and warning that he owns Millburn. The next day, Reid is released from prison due to new evidence coming to light. Immediately afterwards, Shaw talks to Alvez, who reveals the possibility of a cartel operating in Millburn, then informs him that he arranged for his transfer to another prison in Michigan. It is unknown if the cartel was formally investigated by authorities and dismantled afterwards.
- Calvin Shaw (incarcerated). Portrayed by Harold Perrineau.
- Frazier (incarcerated). Portrayed by Eddie Alfano.
- Duerson (incarcerated). Portrayed by Diego Amarosa.
- Around nine unnamed others (all incarcerated). All portrayed by uncredited actors.
- At least 8,000 unnamed others (statuses unknown)
- Unspecified dates: Numerous unnamed victims (presumably; all assaulted by Frazier and Duerson)
- March 8: Luis Delgado (assaulted by Frazier and Duerson)
- March 9: Spencer Reid (assaulted by Frazier and Duerson)
- March 22:
- Luis Delgado (Frazier slashed his throat)
- Spencer Reid (assaulted by Frazier and Duerson)
- April 15-16: Spencer Reid (indirectly attempted; was non-fatally in the leg with a shiv by a manipulated Calvin Shaw)